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Greenwald and Bergey giving a keynote with American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter standing by.
Dr. Brian Greenwald, left, discusses how the presence of cameras will affect an interview, as Jean Lindquist Bergey, middle, and an interpreter watch. Photo by Dr. William Ennis III

On April 23, 2019, Brian Greenwald and Jean Lindquist Bergey presented on “Deaf Interviews: Documenting Narrative History in American Sign Language” at the annual conference of Oral History Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR), held at Monmouth University in New Jersey.

Describing research of the Drs. John S. & Betty J. Schuchman Deaf Documentary Center as rooted in deaf history, timeframes, places, patterns and traditions, Greenwald and Bergey shared the many ways stories can reveal deaf experiences.

Greenwald and Bergey giving a keynote with ASL interpreter standing by
Greenwald, left, addresses the audience as Bergey and an interpreter look on. Photo courtesy of Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Deaf stories can reflect or challenge stereotypes, show solidarity within the community, and reveal what it means to be part of an embedded group within a larger society. Topics covered included conducting pre-interview research, developing questions, establishing language preference, ensuring the understanding of informed consent, and considerations for the interviewer-interviewee match. The Schuchman Center’s director and associate director discussed confidentiality in a small community, or lack thereof, as well as technical set-ups critical to interviews in American Sign Language, and preservation of filmed interviews.

Check out the OHMAR website, and consider attending the 2020 conference in Shepardstown, W.Va., on March 13 -14.

Bergey, right, discusses issues that relate to recording sound during a signed interview
Bergey, right, discusses issues that relate to recording sound during a signed interview. Photo by Dr. William Ennis III.

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