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CATIE Center offers Advanced Body Language Courses

Nigel Howard, an internationally known professor from British Columbia, teaches a course on human anatomy in American Sign Language at St. Kate's in June.
Nigel Howard, an internationally known professor from British Columbia, teaches a course on human anatomy in American Sign Language at St. Kate's in June.
Photo by Melissa Kaelin

To extend advancement opportunities in American Sign Language (ASL) beyond the gates of St. Catherine University, the CATIE Center is providing Advanced Body Language courses to community interpreters.

“We launched an online module for working interpreters,” said Richard Laurion, project manager for the CATIE Center at St. Catherine University. “It focuses on how interpreters working in healthcare can talk about the functions of the body in a form that’s more true to conversational American Sign Language.”

The six-month online program taps the knowledge and experience of internationally known experts Nigel Howard, Doug Bowen-Bailey and others, as they provide a mix of print and media materials, including ASL videos on human anatomy. The course, which is currently in progress, attracted more than 10 times the amount of students that organizers anticipated — bringing in 124 registrants from Canada and nearly every state in the United States.

“Now, we’re bringing Nigel back on campus to do an onsite piece that we’re calling Advanced Body Language,” said Laurion. "He is in the biology lab working with human anatomy models and talking about ASL that you don’t get at a conversational level."

The onsite Advanced Body Language classes were offered to working interpreters on the St. Paul campus of St. Catherine University in June. The classes coincided with ASL Immersion Week, a no-voices week for undergraduate ASL students running June 6-10. Howard taught human anatomy ASL classes to undergraduate students in the morning, then provided each of the three Advanced Body Language Courses to community interpreters in the afternoon.

The Advanced Body Language Courses included three advanced ASL classes, with each session focusing on a different area of the body as it relates to medical vocabulary. The sessions addressed the areas of the heart and heart disease, the eye and eye conditions and the lymphatic system.

“They’re really boiled down in very intense courses, but it gives people something that they don’t get regularly,” said Laurion.

Opportunities through the CATIE Center

The CATIE Center, which is one of the six centers under the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers, will offer another online session on Body Language after the current session concludes in August.

The CATIE Center will also host the Second National Symposium on Healthcare Interpreting from July 22-25, 2012, at St. Catherine University. The CATIE Center and St. Catherine University hosted the first national symposium in 2010, and the event will return in 2012 with the theme, "Advancing Healthcare Interpreting: Best Practices through Research, Education and Service Delivery."

For more information, email or call 651-690-6770 (v/tty).

June 22, 2011 by Melissa Kaelin

See also: Healthcare, Liberal Arts, Social Justice