At 8:45 on a Tuesday morning, I walked up the ramp at the Seattle DeafBlind Center ready to meet the colleagues who would help spearhead the national DeafBlind Interpreting project over the next 5 years. Many of us stood in the hallway waiting for the room to be unlocked and had an opportunity to get to know one another. A hand on my shoulder, a tap on my arm, and other indications that we entered a tactile space left me excited and ready to be part of this team. I thought I had some idea of what to expect, but by 9:01 when we walked into the meeting space, I realized I was entering a whole new world and was witnessing history in the making.
ProTactile American Sign Language (PTASL) is a promising practice that is changing the way DeafBlind people interface with one another and the community around them. Fueled by the desire for autonomy, DeafBlind leaders are rising up to provide training and resources to other DeafBlind individuals with the goal of changing their community. Now, as part of this federally funded grant project, DeafBlind leaders will train interpreters on the use of PTASL with DeafBlind consumers. Over the course of the next 5 years, a total of 30 DeafBlind mentors, 60 novice interpreters, 45 experienced interpreters, and 10 DeafBlind ProTactile Educators will receive extensive training on the use of PTASL. The goal of this grant is to increase the quality and quantity of interpreters who provide PTASL interpretation to DeafBlind individuals, and to increase autonomy and the use of PTASL in the DeafBlind community.
Curious about what comes next? Check back often to learn more about the ways DeafBlind leaders are shaping the face of the DeafBlind community and the field of interpreting one training at a time!
Heather is the DBI Resource Manager. Her responsibilities include development of online materials and courses, management of a national online resource repository, and provision of technical assistance to stakeholders across the country.