Candas Ifama Barnes began professionally interpreting in 1990 while still a student in the interpreting program at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf where she graduated in 1991. She has held RID certification since passing her first exam in 1991 and currently holds the following certifications: Certificate of Interpretation (CI), Certificate of Transliteration (CT) and NIC: Advanced.
Frustration about not being able to communicate directly with Deaf customers while working at Haagen Dazs on Capital Hill near Gallaudet University in the early 1980s sparked an interest in Candas in learning sign language. In February, 1987 she had the good fortune of getting a "girl Friday" assignment at Gallaudet Interpreting Service (GIS) where she discovered a community she loved, a place to call home and a career that would change her life forever. With only a few brief exceptions, she has worked at Gallaudet ever since and is currently a staff interpreter with GIS.
A passionate "wordie," Candas began playing Scrabble with her highly-educated and very competitive family in early elementary school and consciously began "collecting" words in her teens when she first encountered the word "ecclesiastical." She is a voracious reader who has books in every room of her home with a collection that numbers in the thousands. In addition to serving as an ASL/English interpreter specializing in ASL to English work, Candas is a bestselling author, a sought after speaker and trainer and is affectionately known as the "Linguistic Alchemist" because of her mastery with transforming situations and experiences with language.
Candas is a member of GIS' Social Justice and Equity committee. During the summer of 2016, she participated in the week-long Staff-focused Multicultural Competency Building Curriculum Transformation Institute joining a large community of Gallaudet staff and faculty who are committed to creating inclusive excellence and equity in every area of the University. She has a passion for social justice and a fervent commitment to promote cross-cultural competency within the ASL/English interpreting profession. This stems from her own life experiences and more importantly, from her awareness of the changing demographics in the Deaf community and the larger society. She believes it is critical that everyone first becomes culturally self-aware and then actively and intentionally strengthens her/his/their ability to work with people who we perceive to be different than ourselves.
Candas is a lifelong learner and is perpetually enrolled in a class. She has a Bachelor's degree in sociology and writing from Goddard College (1993), a Master's in Counseling from Gallaudet (2007). She has undertaken doctoral coursework at both Capella University and Gallaudet University. Additionally, Candas is an ordained minister, a nationally certified counselor, and a spiritual life coach. She will soon continue her doctoral studies with a focus on cross-cultural competency and social justice within the ASL/English interpreting profession and a commitment to become Dr. Candas Ifama Barnes by May, 2021.