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Supporting Deaf Students in Undergraduate Research Experiences: Perspectives of American Sign Language Interpreters

    Authors: Laura E. Ott1, Linda C. Hodges2, William R. LaCourse1,3,*
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    Affiliations: 1: College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250; 2: Faculty Development Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250; 3: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 29 September 2019 Accepted 12 December 2019 Published 10 April 2020
    • ©2020 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250. Phone: 410-455-2105. E-mail: [email protected]
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. April 2020 vol. 21 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1943
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    Abstract:

    Deaf undergraduates are eager to engage in research but often feel marginalized due to lack of appropriate accommodations to allow for effective communication within heterogeneous research teams consisting of hearing peers and/or mentors. In this case study, we interviewed four American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters who provided full-time accommodations to teams consisting of one deaf student and two hearing peers during a six-week internship. We queried the interpreters on their role and experiences in supporting the research teams. Our findings indicate that the interpreters can be a valuable asset to heterogeneous teams by supporting both deaf and hearing individuals and advocating for the deaf student. That said, interpreters also had to overcome challenges unique to interpreting in the research environment, such as deciding when and how to interpret. The insights provided by the interpreters interviewed here are valuable as undergraduate research programs evaluate how to provide appropriate accommodations to deaf students engaged in research. In addition, they also highlight the need for research experience coordinators and mentors to consider supporting diverse teams in developing effective communication strategies and applying universal design for learning to the research environment.

References & Citations

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2. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) 2012 Engage to excel: producing one million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics Executive Office of the President Washington, DC
3. National Academy of Sciences 2011 Expanding underrepresented minority participation: America’s science and technology talent at the crossroads The National Academies Press Washington, DC
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1943
2020-04-10
2020-10-27

Abstract:

Deaf undergraduates are eager to engage in research but often feel marginalized due to lack of appropriate accommodations to allow for effective communication within heterogeneous research teams consisting of hearing peers and/or mentors. In this case study, we interviewed four American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters who provided full-time accommodations to teams consisting of one deaf student and two hearing peers during a six-week internship. We queried the interpreters on their role and experiences in supporting the research teams. Our findings indicate that the interpreters can be a valuable asset to heterogeneous teams by supporting both deaf and hearing individuals and advocating for the deaf student. That said, interpreters also had to overcome challenges unique to interpreting in the research environment, such as deciding when and how to interpret. The insights provided by the interpreters interviewed here are valuable as undergraduate research programs evaluate how to provide appropriate accommodations to deaf students engaged in research. In addition, they also highlight the need for research experience coordinators and mentors to consider supporting diverse teams in developing effective communication strategies and applying universal design for learning to the research environment.

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