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Curriculum Toolkit & Trainers

In the field of sign language interpreting, the National Consortium of Interpreter Eduction Centers (2015) have documented two things:

  1. A shortage of qualified Deaf and hearing legal interpreters, and
  2. Deaf interpreters provide a needed linguistic and cultural bridge.

The National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC) in partnership with the Mid-America Regional Interpreter Education (MARIE) Center created a curriculum designed to prepare qualified Deaf interpreter to train other Deaf and hearing interpreters to work in court and legal settings. The Legal Interpreter Training: Curriculum Toolkit for Trainers was completed in 2015 by a team including Carla Mathers (Esq., SCL), Anna Witter-Merithew (M.Ed), Rayni Plaster (CDI), and Eileen Forestal (Ph.D., RCS).

Educating Deaf interpreters in legal areas in which they are most frequently retained is the purpose behind the curriculum. The Curriculum Toolkit assumes the foundational possession of a working knowledge of the legal system and it's history, vocabulary, protocol, as well as legal interpreting roles, and ethics. The goal of the curriculum is to prepare the next generation of legal interpreters using a train-the-trainer approach.

Legal Interpreter Training Materials

The Curriculum Toolkit contains five thematically-based module which focus on areas of legal and court interpreting in which Deaf interpreters are often retained. Each module contains objectives, key questions, competencies addressed, resources and other relevant topics. Pre and post tests are included.


The introduction provides an overview of the curriculum by providing the background to it's creation as well as the curriculum's purpose, prerequisites, structure, and sequence.

NOTE: While the curriculum's materials are sequenced, they are not necessarily in a fixed order and do not need to build off of each other. You are encouraged to make it your own.

Module 1: Deaf Interpreter: Interacting with the Players

Module 1 discusses the interpreter's obligation to prepare for the setting they have been retained for such as law enforcement or court proceedings. The module also explores explaining the need for preparation as well as explaining the interpreter's role and the team process.

Module 2: Deaf Interpreter: Deaf Minors and Interpreting Considerations

Module 2 explores the systems of juvenile justice and child welfare as well as some family law settings including custody proceedings. This module looks at Deaf children and youth and the types of legal environments they encounter due to abuse, neglect, or delinquency.

Module 3: Deaf Interpreter: Teaming with Deaf and Hearing Interpreters

Module 3 introduces team interpreting concepts within the courtroom context. This module also looks at the positioning and logistics for the Deaf interpreter and a framework to negotiate team configurations.

Module 4: Deaf Interpreter: Working in Law enforcement Settings

Module 4 explains interpreting for law enforcement and the legal foundations underlying police procedures including the Miranda warning. This module explores the various standards of review used by the appellate court in examining the quality of the law enforcement interpreter's rendition.

Module 5: Deaf Interpreter: Practical Applications

Module 5 concludes the curriculum by providing hands on practice. This module presents principles of text analysis and discourse mapping as well as examines courtroom discourse of witness testimony and discusses the implications for interpreting witness testimony. Source materials of both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting are included along with practice clips.

NOTE: Module 5 can be used in conjunction with the four other modules.

The Curriculum Toolkit can be adapted for seminars, course work, study groups, mentoring sessions and other types of learning activities.


In March 2015, a train-the-trainer event was held to prepare Deaf instructors to use the Curriculum Toolkit. The training event was supported by the NCIEC regional centers, the University of Northern Colorado’s MARIE Center staff, Carla Mathers, Anna Witter-Merithew, along with teaching consultants, Eileen Forestal, Pasch McCombs, and Lynne Wiesman.

The following directories list master trainers who have received concentrated training on the Curriculum Toolkit. Please email the trainer directly with questions about the trainers’ availability and fees.

Master Trainers

Deaf Interpreters in Legal Settings

Christopher Tester

Lisa Perry Burckhardt

Ryan Shephard

Robin Shannon

Rayni Plaster

Jimmy Beldon

June Prusak

Eileen Forestal

Master Trainers

General Legal Settings

Christopher Tester

Lisa Perry Burckhardt

Ryan Shephard

Robin Shannon

Rayni Plaster

Jimmy Beldon

Jana Owen

Tracy Clark

Liz Mendoza

Linda Ross

Ben Hall

Eileen Forestal

Pasch McCombs

Carla Mathers

Lynne Wiesman

Anna Witter-Merithew


National Consortium of Interpreter Eduction Centers. (2015). Legal interpreter training: Curriculum toolkit for trainers - Introduction. Curriculum Toolkit. https://www.unco.edu/project-climb/resources/curriculum-toolkit.aspx

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The contents of the Project CLIMB website was developed under a grant (#H160D160001) from the Department of Education. The contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education. Do not assume endorsement by the Federal government.

As of December 31, 2021, this grant project is no longer active or soliciting applications.
This website will remain available as a resource.

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