In 1988, members of the American deaf community protested the appointment of a hearing person as the president of Gallaudet University, the world's only university for deaf and hard of hearing students. After a week of protest, the university's board of trustees capitulated and bowed to all the protester's demands. As the protesters engaged in a variety of demonstrations and other public events, they were joined by dozens of American Sign Language/English interpreters, who worked to ensure communication between activists, journalists, members of the university's administration, the police, and others. In this paper, I use a case method approach and analyze archival and interview data to describe the provision of interpreting services in the protest. I employ concepts from social movement studies and contentious politics to contextualize the experiences of the interpreters. Using archival and interview data, I elucidate patterns in their experiences and provide a holistic description of their organization, work, and challenges.


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pp. 399-429
Launched on MUSE
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