UCIS and ASL Open House 2019

This year, UConn Interpreting Services will be about the new ASL major and developments within our interpreting services on October 3rd from 4 PM to 7 PM located in the Heritage Room (fourth floor of Homer Babbidge Library). All are welcomed to RSVP on our Facebook (@UConnInterpretingServices) or by email at lyndsay.douvier@uconn.edu. Hope to see you there!


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New American Sign Language Studies Major

American Sign Language studies major announced for Fall 2020


A Daily Campus Article by Rachel Philipson on April 29, 2019

Last Wednesday, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees approved of a new American Sign Language Studies major beginning in the fall of 2020. (Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus)


Last Wednesday, the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees approved of a new American Sign Language Studies major beginning in the fall of 2020.

The decision has been a long time coming—the initial proposal began over two years ago, Linda Pelletier, UConn American Sign Language studies professor and national certified sign language interpreter, said

“Enrollment in American Sign Language classes has increased steadily since the linguistic documentation of ASL as a legitimate language beginning around 1960,” Pelletier said. “Today, nearly every state recognizes and accepts ASL as a second or world language, and a growing number of universities now offer ASL in fulfillment of foreign language requirements.”

Pelletier said there have been requests from undergraduate students for this major over the past few years, as the major will differ from the current American Sign Language and Deaf Culture and Interpreting American Sign Language and English minors.

“The major is much more comprehensive, requiring additional credits including a requirement of the most advanced ASL courses offered as well as additional course work in deaf studies,” Pelletier said.

The major will offer two concentrations: Deaf Studies or Interpreting. Some required classes for the major will be American Sign Language I and II and Intro to Sociolinguistics of the Deaf Community.

This new major will help students learn how to communicate in another language that is dominating powerful fields like technology and healthcare, Pelletier said.

“One of our primary goals is to offer a program where students are able to develop the necessary skills, attitude and knowledge to effectively engage in meaningful conversations with members of a diverse Deaf community,” Pelletier said. “As a result… students will be prepared to work in multiple disciplines and various occupations that reach beyond more traditional roles such as ASL instructors and interpreters.”



Original Daily Campus Article

Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.

Daily Campus Profile on the Deaf community at UConn

“I interpret for the Deaf and the Hearing”: A Profile on the Deaf community at UConn


A Daily Campus Article By Rachel Philipson on April 29, 2019

The UConn American Sign Language club puts on a show for students and community members during Deaf Awareness Day on Thursday night. Students from the ASL 4 class worked for months to create a play version of “Hercules” in American Sign Language for the audience to enjoy. (Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus)


Whether an American Sign Language interpreter is signing in front of thousands of people or over a video call, an interpreter is there to help communication for both the deaf and hearing.

At the University of Connecticut, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has a unique American Sign Language and Deaf Studies program where students can learn the art behind American Sign Language (ASL) from professional interpreters and/or deaf faculty members, UConn American Sign Language studies professor and national certified sign language interpreter Linda Pelletier said.

As an interpreter, Pelletier is a freelancer who typically works in the education or medical field, she said. Based on her 25-year experience as an interpreter, Pelletier stressed that she is not solely an interpreter for the Deaf community, despite common misconceptions.

“It’s important to note that I am interpreting for the Deaf and the hearing. There is often the assumption that I am just interpreting for the Deaf,” Pelletier said. “I am interpreting for anyone who does not know American Sign Language or with English. There can be times that I am interpreting for crowds of a thousand or simply between two individuals.”

The Academic Affairs Committee approved of the Bachelor of Arts degree program for American Sign Language Wednesday that will allow students to study to become interpreters and learn about the Deaf community. Pelletier said she is happy to see the demand for undergraduates to get this experience.

“There is still a need for sign language interpreters so I constantly continue to strive those who have a genuine interest to pursue it further,” Pelletier said.

The ASL classes are taught by Deaf faculty members. Doreen Simons is one of the department’s full-time Deaf faculty members. As an American Sign Language and Deaf studies professor, she has been teaching “since forever” but has been teaching at UConn for the past 20 years. In her classes, she uses a mixture of sign language and visuals.

“I use pictures. I point. I use myself. I talk about the best colors to use,” Simons said. “Just like you teach other classes, you pick up along the way.”

In her classes there is a mixture of Deaf and Hearing students with a variety of majors.

“Communicating with the deaf is a great skill to have,” Simons said. “It’s another great way of supporting the language.”

Although Simons uses American Sign Language, the method of communication depends on the person.

“It depends on an individual. Some read lips. They need to find what is suitable for them,” Simons said. “I communicate with ASL but it depends on the person.”

When communicating with someone who is Deaf, an interpreter is solely for translating the two languages, Simons said. Both the Deaf and the Hearing need the interpreter.

“The interpreter is not for me only. Most people think it’s for the Deaf,” Simmons said. “The interpreters are standing by me but they are only for communication. They don’t add opinion.”

The most difficult part about being an interpreter is maintaining the same linguistic and cultural meanings that the Deaf are signing, Pelletier said.

“To render the message faithfully, as they often say, and accurately can be very challenging and extremely rewarding,” Pelletier said.

If a live interpreter is unavailable, members of the Deaf community can use Video Relay Service, an interpreting system that is done through video call, Pelletier said. Either party, Deaf or Hearing, can call a specific number that will connect the two with a live interpreter via webcam.

“That is available 24/7 free of change. You can call anyone, anytime,” Pelletier said. “[It’s good to] know that there are interpreting services to facilitate communication between ASL and English. Even if a live interpreter isn’t available, it is an option to communicate by way of phone.”

For students, faculty, staff and visitors alike, UConn Interpreting Services works to make sure deaf and hard-of-hearing members of the UConn community can have the same opportunities at all university events, of UConn Interpreting Services director Audrey Silva said. Silva described their method as equity access, meaning that for someone who needs help gets exactly what they need.

“I have seen cartoons of the people watching a ball game in front of a fence. Equal access is that everyone has a milk box. Equal means everyone gets one even if I’m tall and you’re short. Equity means you get two [to help you see] and I get one because I am tall,” Silva said. “Equity is a way of understanding the fact that we work to tailor the communication access to the individual or the event.”

For the approximately 65 students who are registered through the Center for Students with Disabilities as deaf or hard-of-hearing, UConn Interpreting Services works to find the best aid for their needs, whether it is an interpreter or a computer-assisted real-time translation, Silva said.

The computer-assisted, real-time translation is a live-captioning system in which an interpreter takes in the sounds and translate them into words on a computer screen,” Silva said. “This system can be used in classes by transmitting the lecture to the student’s device or for big events, like a basketball game.

For anyone who wants to attend a UConn event who needs assistance, Silva said that all they need to do is fill out an online form from the Interpreting Services website. The Interpreting Services tries to predict when aid will be needed, like commencement, but filling out the form guarantees that aid will be provided.

“The attendee would say ‘I’m deaf’ and the ticket holder reaches out and makes that request… Anyone can use that form at any time. Trying to be proactive. We even have a spot to say ‘I’m not sure,’” Silva said. “We expected the audience and make the appropriate recommendation. It’s not just for the students, it’s for everyone.”

Beyond the academic arena, UConn ASL Club supports and helps builds a positive relationship between deaf and hearing students, Danielle Rubin, UConn ASL Clubs’ vice president and sixth-semester speech, language and hearing sciences major, said.

In addition to biweekly meetings, one of the activities UConn ASL Club does is visit the American School for the Deaf about once a month, Rubin said.

“The activities change each time from gym activities to homework help, but the most important thing is to get to know the students, practice our signing and be immersed in the culture,” Rubin said. “It is important to have Deaf community members come to the club so that we get to know more about Deaf culture from people who actually live it.”

Rubin said that she thinks the club is important to have at UConn because it makes the connection between the two communities stronger and more educated.

“It fosters the love of ASL, the language and the culture,” Rubin said.

Pelletier said that every day is different when she is interpreting and she thoroughly enjoys working with the Deaf community.

“It’s a beautiful opportunity to meet a diverse group of individuals,” Pelletier said. “The deaf community is vibrant and it is exciting to work with individuals who are not deaf.”



Original Daily Campus Article

Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.

What Do YOU Want to See at CRT?

We’re partnering with the Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) again this semester to offer an ASL-interpreted performance of their Fall productions: The Grapes of Wrath, Good Children, and A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration.  Here’s Milmaglyn Morales to tell us more:


Which shows do you want to see ASL-interpreted?

Vote Now!

Polls close Monday, September 10.

Deaf Professionals: Breaking the Sound Barrier

Can’t see the ASL announcement? Click Here.

UConn Interpreting Services and the Center for Students with Disabilities welcomes you to join us for a memorable event on Tuesday September 26, 2017, from 6:00-8:00 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CT. This is the first celebration of its kind in Connecticut, and our excitement in preparing for this occasion matches your excitement to attend!

Deaf individuals have struggled through a history of marginalization, with limited opportunities for employment and education among countless other barriers. We at the University of Connecticut are honored to host a vibrant community of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, faculty, and staff. Because the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community has grown, so has the community of ASL users on campus. In an effort to increase awareness across the board about the thriving Deaf and Hard of Hearing community here in Connecticut, this evening will offer you the opportunity to meet Deaf scientists, engineers, doctoral students, psychologists, mathematicians, medical providers, counselors, and just about any other professional field imaginable. All are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the ways these professionals have navigated the education and employment system, and what their journeys looked like.

Deaf students transitioning from high school to college: this is your chance to speak with other members of the Deaf community who are willing to serve as mentors and guides. The collective wisdom these panel members offer is considerable. They have traveled the road you are starting down, and their message to you is: you CAN do it! Your options are not limited, and you have support.

Interpreters working with Deaf professionals: this is your opportunity to learn more about their experiences, their skills, and hear their stories. We often work with Deaf individuals who are subject matter experts in their fields. This is an evening of invaluable growth potential as we learn from those we work with daily.

Don’t know ASL? No problem! We have enough interpreters to make this evening accessible for all. Members of the UConn community – and the communities we collaborate with and serve – are welcome to join us for a special night of learning how we can better interact with our fellow colleagues.

The panel starts with an hour of questions and answers, moderated by Steve Simmons, a member of UConn’s faculty as well as a teacher at Norwich Free Academy. After that, an hour of networking between attendees and panel members will be complemented by desserts and beverages.

As one of the key events of the Center for Students with Disabilities 50th Anniversary Celebration, it is our privilege to welcome you to Deaf Professionals: Breaking the Sound Barrier!

Date and Time:

September 26, 2017


Legislative Office Building
300 Capitol Ave #5100
Hartford, CT 06106

R.S.V.P Today!

Please RSVP by Tuesday, September 12th. Minors must fill out the Waiver for University Sponsored Minor Programs below in order to attend this event. Both RSVP and consent form may be submitted to ucis@uconn.edu.


Come See “Newsies” this Saturday!



Hello everyone!

My name is Fernando and I work as an ASL consultant for the University of Connecticut Interpreting Services (UCIS) in their collaboration with the Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) to provide interpreted theatrical performances. The third and final performance of the summer season, “Newsies”, is occurring right now and will be interpreted on Saturday, July 15th at 2:00. The interpreters for this show will be Julie Pond and Jon Henry, with myself as the consultant.

“Newsies” is a show inspired by the “Newsboy Strike of 1899” and includes themes of social justice and exploitative labor. During this show you will watch the newsboys as they journey towards finding their voice and standing up for themselves! I will not tell you how it ends; you will need to come see it for yourself!

If you are interested in purchasing tickets to the interpreted performance of this show, please contact CRT’s box office. You may call them at (860) 486-2113 and request tickets in the “interpreted section” or purchase silver or bronze seats online, and then send an email to the box office at CRTBoxOffice@uconn.edu and you will be placed in the reserved ASL priority seats. I suggest you contact them at your earliest convenience to guarantee a seat for yourself!

It might be a good idea to get to the theatre early, as well. This will give you ample time to find your seat, to socialize with other patrons, and to check out the lobby video. This is a video with safety instructions and theatre announcements presented in ASL.

We look forward to seeing you there on Saturday, July 15th at 2:00 PM!

UCIS & CRT Collaborate to offer ASL interpreted theatrical performances this summer!

University of Connecticut Interpreting Services (UCIS), a division of the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), is proud to announce their partnership with Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) to make the theatre experience more accessible! CRT’s Nutmeg Summer Series will feature 1776, Noises Off, and Disney’s Newsies – all of which will have a Saturday matinee performance interpreted into American Sign Language!


“We are very happy that we can offer the ASL interpreted performances this summer. We want all the members of our community to be able to enjoy the theatre.  This is a step to make that possible.” Matthew J. Pugliese, Nutmeg Summer Series’ Executive Producer


“The Center for Students with Disabilities, through UCIS, is pleased to partner with CRT to offer this public accessibility initiative to enhance our inclusive and accessible environment for the larger UConn community.” Donna M. Korbel, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of the Center for Students with Disabilities


Come join us in supporting this inclusive endeavor and catch a great show! Watch our video announcement below for all the details!

Connecticut Repertory Theatre

University of Connecticut Interpreting Services