Use of a Signing Bioscience Dictionary in Increasing Student Interpreters’ American Sign Language Life Science Vocabulary

Judy Vesel, Tara Robillard, and M. Diane Clark
International Journal of Interpreter Education, 12(2), 19-35.


Interpreters who are skilled in academic ASL content, such as the vocabulary needed to interpret postsecondary science courses, are rare. This is not surprising, because interpreting training programs focus on developing the skills to fluently interpret from sign to voice as well as voice to sign, not on the specialized vocabulary for more specialized content. This study examined the impact of training interpreting students on the use of a Signing Bioscience Dictionary (SBD). Research involved incorporating terms found in undergraduate biology courses into the SBD, conducting an evaluation, and soliciting recommendations for improvement of the SBD. Key findings showed that using the SBD to teach life science terms resulted in students’ increased knowledge of ASL life science vocabulary and abilities to sign these terms. These skills transferred to interpreting skills for a life science lecture only in those students who were more advanced in the program.