Learning to See in the Dark: The Parameters of Practice Based Dialogue

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Practitioners of ASL interpretation are often working alone, an isolation intensified by a lack of opportunity to reflect on what they do. The decisions made online in the midst of the task are done without shedding light on the thinking behind those actions. There is no easy way to illuminate work hidden deep in the mind. Therefore, we must learn to describe what we see in our actions as though we see them in the dark; study the shapes and nuances which seem oddly familiar but indeterminate and come to recognize them. By examining reflection as it occurs in the practice of education, psychotherapy and other professions, this paper will be a dialogue with those who have depicted the act of uncovering their thinking through reflection with others. I begin by defining the practice of ASL/English interpretation by reviewing the literature of that profession, primarily Lee, McIntire, Sanderson, Roy and Baker-Shenk. Considering it as an activity located in a social context, I argue that it must be examined through praxis as defined by Freire. I then compare his recommendations for reflective dialogue with those of fellow educators Cochran-Smith and Lytle, developmental psychologist Vygotsky, researcher of professions Shon, clinical supervisors Jacobs, David and Meyers, and physicist Bohm. By combining this knowledge with that of interpreters who came together to examine their practice in facilitated dialogue groups, I offer suggestions for the creation of formalized Practice Based Dialogue within the community of practice of interpretation. Dialogue encourages reflection on tacit assumptions, which underlie the thinking and decision making of everyday practice. Posing problems encountered in practice provides a starting place for exploring our beliefs, and considering those of others. Characteristics of dialogue (suspension of judgment, attention to process) and its subsequent challenges (the question of hierarchy, changes in relationship to the community) are explored. Practice Based Dialogue may be used to improve individual practice, develop the profession through peer activities, or promote social justice by engaging with Deaf people, learning through formal and informal connections what they imagine interpreting to be.


Contact cct@umb.edu for access to full text

This document is currently not available here.