New Workshop: Third Culture and Professionalism for Deaf and Coda Sign Language Interpreters

drittkulturIn collaboration with Isabella Rausch, I have developed a one-of-a kind 2-day workshop for Coda and Deaf interpreters together (Seminar language  IS/English). We are combining the Third Culture Kids approach (on the identity of persons having grown up in different cultures compared to their parents) and vicarious trauma.  I am  bringing in the anthropological background and Isabella is a psychotherapist. We are both multilingual interpreters, and both Coda.

This spring, the new edition of the book Third Culture Kids by Ruth van Reken is coming out in English. Its previous editions have created a global movement and are standard reading for students of intercultural communication. Its revision will include the Deaf community. I have given papers on this subject in various places, see here. As Deaf Culture Kids and members of a minority culture we develop a high sensitivity for intercultural skills and personality traits. Simultaneously, this sensitivity can make us very vulnerable. In our workshop the participants learn to turn their intercultural resources into inner strength where resilience, dialog ability and integrity, central assets of our professionalism can thrive. At the same time, they learn to protect themselves from traumatic episodes coming alive in the interpreting setting, especially if they, as interpreters, share similar traumatic experiences. A build-up of even the slightest hints over the time of a career can lead to burn-out. Learning about intercultural assets, sharing the Deaf Culture Kid experience and developing resilience and integrity will lead to long-term professional success and a happy work life.

We are offering this workshop in German/DGS in Berlin this July. If you are interested in an international workshop, please email us, comment or simply invite us to your country.


EFSLI Athens 2016: Interpreting for Refugees

At the EFSLI conference in Athens 2016, Ege Karar and I presented on the strategies we found and the challenges we encountered during our trainings on interpreting for migrants and refugees. You can download the pdf here. Title: Deaf and Hearing Interpreters With and Without Experience with Deaf Refugees.

Abstract: Interpreting for deaf refugees is extremely demanding regarding emotional investment, linguistic and strategic versatility of the interpreters and the collaboration between the participants in the setting. Eye Karar, Deaf Interpreter, and his hearing colleague Oya Ataman, both Turkish-born immigrants to Germany, have been training Sign Language interpreters and Integration officers for working with refugees. They are presenting salient aspects of working in this highly sensitive setting. They will illustrate typical pitfalls and explore strategic ways out.

  • The intercultural differences and synergies between refugees of deeply religious Christian and Muslim backgrounds in a Christian-secular legal environment.
  • The power differentials between the host and refugee culture and within the respective cultures regarding ableism and sexism.
  • The collaboration between deaf and hearing interpreter on then hand, the interpreters and the other participants on th other.
  • Implications for the Code of Ethics.

The presentation is aimed both at practitioners who work in this setting and interpreter trainers looking for pedagogic methods to tackle the subject.

Iconicity and Arbitrariness

How does iconicity in signed languages work? Christian Cuyac and Marie-Anne Sallandre offer a close look at iconicity using LSF as an example in their paper „Iconicity and arbitrariness in French sign language-highly iconic structures, degenerated iconicity and diagrammatic iconicity„.


Sebnem Bahadir: Interpreting Enactments

Interpreting EnactmentsHow do you train your intercultural competence  in a protected space without the unexpected intrusion of the Other? Sebnem Bahadir developed a method of role-play for interpreter trainings, drawing from anthropology, performance and translation studies. This English-language interview on youtube will introduce you to her. You will find her approach in her numerous papers available online such as this one: „The task of the interpreter in the struggle of the other for empowerment: Mythical utopia or sine qua non of professionalism?“ in Translation and Interpreting Studies 5(1):124-139 · March 2010 available via ResearchGate, and of course, in her book written in German and English Dolmetschinszenierungen, SAXA Verlag, 2010 (ISBN-10: 3939060240, ISBN-13: 978-3939060246). Unfortunately, the book is not available on sale any more but your library will find it for you.

Ege and I are using this method in our trainings with enthusiasm and would love to discuss it with you.

Interpreting for Deaf Refugees: Role-Space


Light-bulb moments for interpreters stuck in the double-binds of established role-models abound in Robert G. Lee andPeter Llewellyn-Jones concept of Role-space. Ege and I find their pioneering model particularly enlightening for settings involving Deaf migrants or refugees. Here, we can take their English/ASL webinar for an introduction into the topic, or read their scholarly article Getting to the Core of Role: Defining Interpreters’ Role-Space“. Of course, its best to read the entire book available on Amazon: Redefining the Role of the Community Interpreter: The Concept of Role-space, Carlton-le-Moorland: SLI Press, 2014. This discussion is password-protected for the participants of our trainings.

Interpreting for Deaf Refugees: UNHCR Self-Study Modules

UNHCR Self Study Module 3Please discuss with us the self-study modules provided by the UNHCR available online.

Module 2: Refugee Status Determination

Module 3: Interpreting in a Refugee Context

Participants of our trainings are invited to ask questions, comment and discuss in this password-protected post.

WASLI 2015 pre-conference workshop – Interpreting for Deaf Migrants: Challenges and Strategies. The Example of Deaf Turks in Germany

Presenters: Hatice Yildirim-Dähne, Ege Karar, Dr. Okan Kubus and Oya Ataman

Abstract: Our workshop explores asymmetries of power and culture in community interpreting settings involving Deaf, Turkish and German cultures. We invite discussion of colleagues’ strategies and experiences in interpreting for minorities. We suggest ideas for: (i) dealing with a Code of Ethics that may not fit minority cultures, (ii) training specific to our needs; (iii) cross-country professional networking that does not rely on English and IS. As a method, we are using Interpreting Enactments developed by Dr. Sebnem Bahadir.

To view the slides of this workshop, download them here.

To view evaluation videos of participants click here: IS, DGS

If you would like to participate in a similar workshop in IS/English, DGS/German or TID/Turkish please contact us.

„Reinvent Yourselves“: Subversive Online Interpreting Tools

This talk is my part of a paper given together with Mark Zaurov at the Gallaudet Symposium 2014. Since I am unable to be at the conference site, Mark agreed to present our paper by himself. (Thank you so much, Mark!) If you have any questions, objections or simply agree with me, this post is the right spot to get in touch and discuss. Please note that you need to sign up with wordpress to be able to comment to the post (free). You can view or download the Powerpoint in pdf here. Oya Ataman Gallaudet14 Blog