A 79-year-old Fulton woman who has been interpreting American Sign Language for most of her life is being honored by William Woods University.
The university’s Interpreting & ASL Lab has been renamed the “Charlotte Rose Hamilton “CR” Lab.”
Charlotte Hamilton has been a full-time interpreter for 66 years and a professional interpreter for 37 years. She still interprets 20 to 30 hours a week and attends workshops to enhance her skills.
Hamilton’s parents were deaf and they taught at the Missouri School for the Deaf for about 34 years. One of four daughters, Charlotte began interpreting for her mother at the age of 13.
Charlotte attended William Woods in 1941 and 1942. She went on to the St. Lukes School of Nursing in 1942 and became a registered nurse in 1950. She worked as a surgical nurse at the Fulton State Hospital until 1983, when she retired.
In 1965 Hamilton was one of the first members of the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. She served as president of the Missouri Nurses Association in 1968. In 1972 she was RID Certified (one of the first to qualify for this national certification) and she was certified in Kansas the same year. She helped to establish the Midwestern Missouri Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Chapter in 1976.
Charlotte and her husband, Bill, have three children: Martha, Brownie and John. They have eight grandchildren, three of whom are involved with interpreting, and five great-grandchildren.
Hamilton and Peter Ripley, former superintendent at Missouri School for the Deaf, were instrumental in establishing an interpreter training program at WWU in 1990.
The interpreter training program is now the William Woods University Department of Interpreting and American Sign Language and is one of only 25 programs in the United States and Canada offering a four-year interpreting degree.
The department’s state-of-the-art interpreting lab, now named for Charlotte Hamilton, helps students enhance their skills by watching and recording videotapes. Eight part-time deaf tutors work in the lab and are available to assist students with their class assignments and individual practice.
The comprehensive lab contains 10 stations, each with a television, two VCRs (one to play tapes and one to record), a VCR camera, a tape player and three sets of headphones (one set with a built-in microphone so students can record themselves).
A control panel has all the provisions of an individual lab and a computer system that allows the teacher to do more. For example, a teacher can view a student at any of the individual stations or project himself or herself on any student’s television screen.