Positionality in the Deaf Community

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
INTR 2110
Positionality in the Deaf Community
Sign Language Interpretation
Applied Community Studies
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours

Lecture: 1 hour per week

Seminar: 2 hours per week

Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities
  • lecture/seminar
  • small group work
  • guest speakers
  • course readings/video
Course Description
This course will focus on the development of a professional interpreter identity through examination of one's positionality in the Deaf community. Students will use critical thinking to explore historical and current perspectives on the interpreting community of practice. Students will consider how to be agents of change toward social, economic and racial justice by examining issues of diversity, intersectionality, privilege, marginalization, self-determination and systemic inequities.
Course Content

Positionality as a professional sign language interpreter: 

  • One’s own experiences of privilege and oppression and connection to social systems (family, education, health care, employment, justice, etc)
  • How professional power and privilege interact with personal privilege and personal intersectional experiences of oppression
  • Possibility and implications of using one’s position of power to reinforce the status quo
  • Examination of one’s own positionality in a variety of professional and community settings 

 Impacts of oppression on Deaf-hearing interactions and the role of the interpreter: 

  • Power held by professional interpreters in systems 
  • Current practices in sign language interpreting as part of an evolution of historical perspectives
  • Oppressive treatment by interpreters as experienced by persons who are D/deaf, hard of hearing, Deafblind
  • Critical race theory and its application to interpreting
  • Language deprivation and its relevance to interpreting
  • Envisioning interpreters as agents of change toward social, economic and racial justice
  • The interpreter as ally or accomplice or other

 Human service systems that impact the lives of Deaf, hard of hearing, Deafblind people:

  • Component parts of the service systems and their interactive dynamics within our local and national community context
  • Advocacy organizations and movements influencing the Deaf community and interpreters
  • Living in an unjust society and working within unjust systems
  • Inequity as systemic and self-sustaining
  • Impact of social policies on social justice, considering decolonization, Truth & Reconciliation, anti-racism, gender diversity, intersectional Deaf experiences
Learning Outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate critical thinking in written and oral forms
  • Describe various positions, different from one’s own, on a given issue
  • Examine the impact of intersectionality and positionality in personal interactions
  • Identify historical trends of systemic inequities and their impact on the role of the interpreter
  • Describe the human service systems impacting the lives of Deaf community members
  • Identify key organizations within the Deaf community, local and national
  • Apply a critical social justice perspective to the dynamics between interpreters and the Deaf community
  • Describe current inequity issues of concern to the interpreting community of practice
  • Recognize one’s own power, privilege, and potential for bias
  • Outline a personal plan for ongoing growth and development as a socially conscious interpreter


Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accordance with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy. Evaluation will be based on a combination of individual and group work, and at the instructor’s discretion may include presentations, written assignments, papers, quizzes and/or exams. 

A typical distribution of graded assignments follows:

  • Community Research Project, Summary 15%
  • Community Research Project, Presentation 15%
  • Essays: 2x15%
  • Quizzes totalling 30%
  • Attendance and Participation 10%

This is a letter graded course.

Textbook Materials

A list of required and optional textbooks and materials is provided for students at the beginning of each semester.