As a new interpreter MaryFaith worked in education and a few assignments in the community which introduced her to a wide variety of international organizations and people from around the world. She became interested in traveling and learning how everyday life for deaf people in other countries compared to the situation in America. For the nearly 30 years MaryFaith has lived in England, but for a couple of years in northwest Africa, and she has travelled much of Europe and some of India.

MaryFaith's career has included ASL and BSL-English as well as a number of roles working with deaf people and within the deaf community. She spent years facilitating the inclusion of deaf women within retreats and personal growth/ spiritual development workshops on behalf of an international religious community. She also created a reflection and discussion group for deaf people's personal and spiritual growth. As a chaplain at a psychiatric hospital in London with an in-patient deaf unit, MaryFaith did life story work with individual patients and facilitated social activities which minimized the deaf patients' isolation in the hospital and encouraged personal growth and reflection. These activities tremendously minimized the deaf patients' isolation within the hospital, and encouraged the development of their social interaction skills.

One experience for which MaryFaith will be forever grateful is her time spent as a volunteer in northwest Nigeria. In addition to directly assisting with the teaching of children between the ages of 8-16, MaryFaith developed curricula and teaching resources for English, Math and Science. With these educational resources and a supply of donated children's books MaryFaith was able to create a school library and teachers' resource room.

In 2007 MaryFaith was honored with a place at University of Leeds' MA program in the School of Modern Languages. She had not previously been exposed to academic work and thrived on the experience. All the above experiences worked together to motivate her to apply to Gallaudet University's PhD in interpretation program.

Ongoing research projects:

For MaryFaith's MA thesis she looked at interpreted Institutional Talk in the workplace through the lens of critical discourse analysis. One of the areas highlighted for further research is in the area of identifying an SL genre of Institutional Talk and for her doctorate she plans to research this both in ASL and BSL. Currently she is beginning this process with a literature review.

Research internship:

"Perceptions of sign language interpreting in court and the potential impact of the presence of deaf jurors" with Dr. Jemina Napier

Co-investigators: Dr Meg Rohan (statistical consultant), Prof David Spencer (La Trobe University)

Research assistant: Gerry Shearim (Macquarie University) -

Abstract: The aim of this project will be to collect and analyze data that will complement two previous projects on sign language interpreting in court for deaf jurors who use Australian Sign Language (Auslan) that found that deaf people can sufficiently comprehend courtroom discourse through interpreters in order to serve as jurors (see Napier & Spencer, 2008).

In order to test these findings through another lens it is necessary to scope the perceptions of stakeholders about the presence of deaf jurors and sign language interpreters in criminal trials and the potential impact on the administration of justice. Perceptions will be gleaned from sign language interpreters and legal personnel through an international online survey of English-speaking countries, with follow-up face-to-face focus groups interviews in Australia. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of the data will provide a picture of the feasibility of deaf people being accepted to serve as jurors, leading to further triangulation of existing data and planned research, and potential recommendations regarding law reform and access to justice.

This project has been funded through the MacQuarie University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research (DVC-R) Discretionary Fund (2011-2012).


Napier, J. & Spencer, D. (2008). Guilty or not guilty? An investigation of deaf jurors' access to court proceedings via sign language interpreting. In D. Russell & S. Hale (Eds.), Interpreting in legal settings (pp.71-122). Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.