Allyship and the Deaf Community

Applied Community Studies
Sign Language Interpretation
Course Code
INTR 1102
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course encourages students to examine what it means to be an ally within the socio-political context of the dynamics between Deaf and non-Deaf people, exploring the effects of marginalization and lack of access, as well as the significance of power, privilege and identity. They will examine professional roles, particularly that of sign language interpreters, and their own suitability to work in and alongside the Deaf community.
Course Content


  • Principles of social justice as applied to allyship: understanding unequal power, privilege and marginalization
  • Characteristics of oppressed and oppressor groups
  • Understanding one’s own positionality and intersectionality (self-reflection)
  • Unpacking hearing privilege and bias
  • Competencies of an effective ally

Professional roles in/alongside the Deaf community

  • Deaf-allied professionals (e.g., educators, social workers, mental health workers, intervenors)
  • Deaf-hearing partnerships and collaboration (e.g., health professionals, service industry personnel, governments)
  • Differences between allyship and advocacy

Role of the sign language interpreter

  • Evolution of the interpreter’s role in North America from helper to conduit to ally
  • Sign language interpreters as allies
  • Settings and systems where sign language interpreters work
  • Competencies of an effective interpreter

Relationship between ASL and English

  • VGC (Visual Gestural Communication) and In-group signs
  • Contact Sign varieties  – blending ASL and English
  • Signed English – SEE and other manual codes for English
  • Majority-minority language use and power

The following major concepts guide the design and delivery of this course:

1.         The Deaf community comprises a vibrant linguistic and cultural minority whose members are connected to each other through shared values, norms, art, traditions and especially the primacy of using a signed language.

2.         A pathological view of Deaf people as disabled and in need of repair has been prevalent in our society, perpetuating attitudinal and systemic barriers to access to opportunities for education, employment, autonomy and inclusion.

3.         Non-Deaf people desiring to be allies to the Deaf community require an understanding of the impact of unequal power and privilege, of marginalization, and of systemic oppression, on both historical and current societal trends.

4.         Non-Deaf allies should undertake serious self-reflection and examine their own positionality, attitudes, knowledge, competencies and approach, within a complex social/cultural/political/linguistic context.

5.         Interpreters can be key allies, as can educators, early intervention workers, family members, social workers, mental health and health care practitioners, employers, co-workers, intervenors, public service providers, law enforcement personnel, creative professionals, etc. All allies benefit themselves and others by being conscientious and reflective life-long learners.



Learning Activities

- lecture/discussion

- small group work

- guest speakers

- course readings/videos

Means of Assessment

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on a combination of individual and group work and, at the instructor’s discretion may include presentations and written assignments, papers, quizzes and exams. A sample distribution of graded assignments follows:

•  Field research group project – interview of human service provider(s)

o  Written summary 15%

o  Presentation 15%

•  “My intersecting identities” creative project and presentation 15%

•  Essay 15%

•  Quizzes 30%

•  Attendance and participation 10%

This is a letter graded course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Apply an ally perspective to describe the conflicts between an audist/pathological view and a cultural view of Deaf people;
  • Identify the challenges of becoming an ally to the Deaf community;
  • Describe the spectrum of visual-gestural communication used by Deaf people and the key differences between ASL and English;
  • Analyze the characteristics of group oppression and examine one's own position within this context;
  • Recognize the significance of power, privilege and marginalization in the dynamics between non-Deaf and Deaf people in Canadian society;
  • Identify ways in which human service providers can facilitate empowerment of Deaf people and effect positive change;
  • Describe the evolution and shifting philosophical perspectives of the profession of sign language interpreting in North America; and
  • Appraise one's own attributes, competencies, and suitability for interpreting and/or other ally roles.
Textbook Materials

Coursepack purchase required; check Douglas College book store.



No prerequisites.


No corequesites.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for INTR 1102
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Summer 2023