Former WWU ASL Interpreting Professor Returns After 12-Year Absence

A former American Sign Language English interpreting professor at Barbara GarrettWilliam Woods University is returning to teach after a 12-year absence.


Dr. Barbara O’Brian Garrett, ASL English interpreting department chair and associate professor of ASL at William Woods from 1993 through 1998, will rejoin the WWU faculty in the fall as a professor. In the meantime, she is working for William Woods as a consultant on curriculum and professional development.


She returns to the Woods after working at North Central University (Minneapolis, Minn.), where she was the department chair and associate professor of Calstrom Deaf Studies for seven years. 


Previously, she ran a private practice as a community interpreter, consultant, and mentor at various medical, mental health, legal and educational agencies and institutions in Minneapolis, Minn., and the greater Los Angeles area.  She has also worked as a video interpreter and as a skills specialist at the Distance Opportunity Interpreter Training Center at Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colo. 


Garrett completed her associate of arts degree at Northwest University (Wash.).  She then went on to earn a B.A. in Deaf ministry from World Evangelism Bible College (La.), an M.A. in Deaf education from Missouri State University, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University (Calif.). 


She began her career in 1985 as a self-employed consultant, interpreter and educator, and she continues to advise various companies and educational institutions.  In 1988 she took on the role of an educational interpreter for preschool through high school students in several different school districts. 


Since then, Garrett has served in numerous positions across the country educating others in ASL English interpretation and advocating for the Deaf.  She has also taught countless college courses in interpreting, Deaf studies, bible and theology. 


While in Los Angeles working on her Ph.D. and doing community interpreting and consulting, she served as a youth pastor at a Deaf church and worked with underprivileged inner-city Deaf teens. 


“It was a really neat experience, and many of them are now leading very productive gang free lives,” she said. 


Besides educating and interpreting, Garrett has lectured at multiple workshops, camps, conferences and in-services.  Some of these venues include the Missouri Statewide Interpreters Convention, which she founded, the spring conference of the Iowa State Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. 


She is also a member of multiple professional associations, including the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and Conference of Interpreter Trainers.  Garrett formerly was a member of such organizations as the National Association of the Deaf, the National Rehabilitation Association and the Central Interpreter’s Association. 


While an active member in these organizations, she was elected to multiple offices, including treasurer and secretary of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers and vice chairperson for the Southwest Missouri Interpreters Association. 


Garrett’s professional career has included several honors and achievements, including interpreting for former Presidents H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former Vice President Al Gore and Missouri Governor John Ashcroft. 


She also created and implemented the highly successful Annual Missouri Statewide Interpreters Convention, which began in 1994 with an attendance of 330 the first year and currently draws about 600 participants.


Another program of hers that has continued to flourish is WWU’s four-year bachelor of science in interpreting degree program, which she expanded from the AAS interpretation degree during her first employment at William Woods.

WWU’s ASL interpreting program is still growing with more than 60 students enrolled as ASL interpreting majors or minors, and 109 students currently taking ASL classes.  William Woods is one of only two dozen schools in the United States and Canada that offers a four- year degree in American Sign Language interpreting.