Our ASL Interpretation Team

If you've had a chance to see any of our events for children, you're familiar with the work of Theresa Barker-Simms and Cassie Standish, our outstanding ASL Interpretation team. In advance of our event with Kenneth Oppel, which will feature ASL Interpretation, we spoke to them about their interpreting experience and their collaborative process.



Hello Theresa and Cassie! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and your experience interpreting?

Hello! My name is Theresa Barker-Simms, I am a Deaf Interpreter. I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. My husband and I moved to the NWT where we had our daughter, now we are back in Ontario and currently in the southwest where we live with our little family along with 2 dogs.  I am Deaf and I come from 4 generations of Deafness. I have been signing for as long as I can remember. In a sense I have been an interpreter my whole life, always interpreting for my family or friends. I have been interpreting professionally on the side for the past 10+ years. It wasn’t until the past 3 years that I have decided to work as an interpreter full-time. I have taken numerous courses and training in Interpreting and have completed the first series of testing to become a fully Certified Deaf Interpreter. To my knowledge, to date, I am the only one in Ontario to do so. I often interpret for medical, mental health, legal, and community events.

Hello Everyone! My name is Cassie Standish and I am an ASL-English Interpreter and have had the wonderful opportunity of interpreting some of the events hosted by the Eden Mills Writers Festival. I was born and raised in Woodstock, ON where I still live with my husband, daughter and dog. The moment I began learning American Sign Language I knew that I wanted to be an interpreter; whatever it took. Every experience I have had as an interpreter has been a memorable one, and I am so lucky to have opportunities to work and learn from other Deaf and Hearing interpreters as well as the community we support.

Can you explain your process? How do the two of you work together, and why is this the preferred way of interpreting? 

When we have a team of interpreters, the process of how we work varies depending on the circumstances and the preference of the consumers. However, specifically for the EMWF online events, we work as a team where behind the scenes both of the Interpreters are on Facetime. We both are also signed into ZOOM. The hearing interpreter will interpret what she is hearing take place through Facetime and the Deaf Interpreter interprets the message to reach the Deaf Audience via Zoom.  In cases where there are readings of the book, it really helps having the materials beforehand so during the readings the Hearing Interpreter feeds the Deaf Interpreter cues as to maintain the pace.

The Deaf Interpreter matches the vocal tones of the author reading by using facial expressions and gestures, as ASL does not translate directly to English.  The Deaf Interpreter is fluent in both languages and is able to make sure that nuances in each language are not missed and the authors message and intentions come through.

Having a Deaf Interpreter along with a Hearing Interpreter is really the preferred method of interpreting now. Studies have shown that the message is conveyed and understood much more with a team vs without. Using a native signer allows for a lot more fluency vs using a non-native signer. To give an example of why using a team is best practice, when one goes to their family Doctor, often times your Doctor may refer you to a specialist. It does not mean that your family doctor is not a good doctor, it just means that you would benefit from using a specialist. It is the same with interpreters, both hearing and Deaf people would benefit from having a specialist on their team of interpreting.

What is something that most people don't know about ASL interpretation?  

ASL is not just signs for English words. ASL is its own language, its own grammar and systematic system. ASL is not universal, there are three official sign languages in Canada – ASL, (American Sign Language) LSQ (Langue des signes Québécoise) , and ISL (Indigenous Sign Language) . In other parts of the world there are also different sign languages as well. There are as many sign languages as there are spoken languages.

Thank you Theresa and Cassie!

If you are interested in booking Theresa and Cassie for interpretive services, you can reach them at the emails below.

Theresa: [email protected]
Cassie: [email protected]