The Integrated Model of Interpreting, a cognitive model which combines linguistic, cultural, affective and environmental domains to understand the process of interpreting, is presented, unpacked and applied throughout the eight sessions of this series. The model provides a framework and a language for understanding the components of the interpreting task.

Deaf Foundations is offered for Deaf people who are working interpreters and those who are interested in becoming interpreters. All participants at Deaf Foundations are Deaf.

For more information on Deaf Foundations, watch this video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16DZKFKfkmoPeZUYaCbwVlj3Zd21KKFrD/view?usp=sharing

Coda Foundations is offered for people are Deaf-parented with the ability to hear, and who are working interpreters and those who are interested in becoming interpreters. All participants at Coda Foundations have one or more Deaf parents.

For more information on Coda Foundations, watch this video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16DZKFKfkmoPeZUYaCbwVlj3Zd21KKFrD/view?usp=sharing

Visit this area of the BMC website for current offerings.

To coordinate bringing Foundations to your area, fill out this form.

BMC is committed to making the seminar hosting process a streamlined experience. BMC has a number of experienced seminar hosts who are happy to provide consultation to people who are hosting a Foundations seminar for the first time. BMC has many resources to share, including a budget breakdown, RID CEUs instructor forms, and a far-reaching listserv, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to supplement local advertising. BMC also has a webmaster who will create an online registration portal for each seminar, and BMC will manage registration and seminar expenses. Many first-time seminar hosts report that the process was much easier than they expected.

Participants find great benefit in taking portions of the series again (and again). Each time taking a Foundations allows the participant a deeper understanding of their internal interpreting process and further practice in dialoguing about the work via structured activities. Additionally, each Foundations seminar is attended by an ever changing (and growing) number of participants. This dynamic grouping allows for further learning when engaging with other participants.

Yes, and doing so is encouraged!

No. Participants can take modules again at any time and in any order. Only upon taking a module the first time must it be taken in order, e.g. Foundations I before Foundations II; Foundations II before Foundations III; and so on.

Yes. The activities across the Foundations series are organized to build upon one another. First-time participants must take the Foundations modules in order, beginning with Foundations I. Once participants have taken any specific Foundations module, they can take it again. Participants often discover that they can take Foundations I, or any other module, repeatedly and they continue to learn new things each time. Rarely do participants take the entire series in order without repeating earlier modules.

For Foundations I, there are no prerequisites. Participants should have receptive and expressive ASL skills for non-complex topics. For each subsequent module, the prerequisite is the previous module, e.g. Foundations I to take Foundations II; Foundations II to take Foundations III, and so on.

The Foundations of Interpreting seminar series builds from one module to the next. In Foundations I, participants are exposed to the Integrated Model of Interpreting, and to the unique learning environment. Many people say they have never experienced a learning environment like Foundations before. Getting used to both learning and talking about interpreting in a new way takes some time, and Foundations I is where that happens. Foundations I is fertile ground, yielding exciting discoveries, which is why many people become enthused to return to Foundations in the future. If a person were to miss Foundations I and jump into Foundations II, they would be at a difficult disadvantage. All other participants will have had at least one weekend to acclimate to this new environment, and many participants will have taken Foundations many times and will have had many weekends. The person jumping in would likely not understand the terminology that their fellow participants were using, nor would they understand the manner in which they were having discussions. The person jumping in would likely feel lost and frustrated, and perhaps defeated. This dynamic is not ideal for a new person in any setting, which is why all new participants must take Foundations I.
Starting with Foundations II is not possible. 

There are eight modules in the Foundations of Interpreting Processes Series. Foundations I - Foundations IV are typically taught in 3-day seminars(13 hours in session), for a total of four weekends. Foundations V & VI are taught over an extended 4-day seminar (20 hours in session), as are Foundations VII & VIII, for a total of two additional weekends.

Focus of Foundations I and II:

Introduction of Model and Tools, Philosophy and Approach, Tools for Analysis and Dialogue


Focus of Foundations III and IV:

Honing Tools, Back Translation and Collaborative Activities, Application and Practice


Focus of Foundations V and VI:

Reduce Consecutive Processing Time, Activities, Tools and Practice, Interpretation of Dialogues


Focus of Foundations VII and VIII:

Transition to Simultaneous, Post-Foundations Development

The short answer is no, participants cannot miss Friday night and then begin their seminar experience on Saturday morning. Friday night of Foundations I begins with orientation for the weekend and an introduction to the Integrated Model of Interpreting (IMI) and the seminar pedagogy. The seminar then moves right into activities, which will be built upon throughout most of the day on Saturday. If someone were to miss the set up on Friday night, they would be unable to participate the following day. We would encourage anyone who is unable to resolve their schedule conflict to join us for another seminar on another weekend.

The longer answer...

Given the educational context of the professional interpreter in the US, many interpreters are perplexed at Foundations before they take it. The 3-day/2-night schedule, and the fact that many people report returning to Foundations I (or II, or III, etc.) time and time again can seem strange. The design of Foundations has been heavily influenced by the educational pedagogy of Lev Vygotsky, who emphasized the social context of learning and the need to externally process (initially in dialogue with another person, and eventually with one’s own higher cognition) in order to move forward in understanding. While Foundations began with Vygotsky, its design has been borne out by experience. In Foundations I, we start with introductions and then a dialogue-activity about interpreting. During this dialogue, individuals explore their own beliefs and operating assumptions in a group context. Participants also begin to practice using non-evaluative language and reflective listening, modeled by the presenter and assistants. Then we start working right away with texts. Participants explore these texts, and they are given activities to try and depict and articulate their understanding with others in small and in large groups. The activities prove new and difficult for many participants. Overnight, they have time and sleep to integrate whatever learning has happened during the day, and new questions might arise. The next day, we continue to work with the same text content as the night before, but in a different way, and in a different group arrangement. By midday, participants have had 6 hours of practice working with various texts and scenarios using this pedagogy, and they have been working together during this time. After midday Saturday, 7.5 hours of seminar time remain – for working, and dialoguing, and integrating (and sleeping), and questioning. By Sunday, we see many shifts in participants’ thoughts and beliefs, as well as in their understanding of the content, the seminar pedagogy, and, sometimes, the practice of interpreting itself.

If a participant were not able to join Foundations I by the time text-based activities were to begin on Friday night, they would not be set up for success. They would miss orientation to this pedagogical model, as well as the initial group work, and if nothing else, they would miss the text material that forms the foundation of the first of many hours of work. Late participants would not be able to contribute to group work on Saturday morning, which would be detrimental both to themselves as well as to members of their groups, all of whom have particular roles in the activities. Many participants in this situation would feel lost, or frustrated, or left-behind; or like their time or money were being wasted, and none of those feelings are conducive to learning. The transformational potential of Foundations hinges on creating a space where dialogue is non-evaluative, and on the group activities and dialogue. It would be irresponsible and counterproductive to jeopardize the learning environment, both for the late-arriving individual and for the group.

The approach to learning we use requires that activity, dialogue, discussion, and content be absorbed by each individual at their own pace. After decades of trying different time frames, it is clear that participants benefit the most from having two nights to integrate the complexities of the model and practice applying the tools provided.

Unlike “packaged” workshops/presentations, the seminar material is customized to match the needs and makeup of the group. Although the content is consistent across seminars, the sequencing and/or types of activities may change.

As the Foundations series has evolved over decades there is an increasing number of people studying the model and the pedagogy. To support the continued offering of Foundations in the future, Betty has been mentoring a cohort of people who are developing the necessary skills and experience to carry the work forward. Seminar participants benefit from the presence of assistants, which increases participants’ opportunities for direct attention and for questions, and which provides a variety of perspectives and ways of talking about interpreting and the IMI.

There are a number of other IMI seminars available from BMC, including but not limited to Enhancing Your "R", What Happens After "R"?, Working in Teams. Additionally, there are a number of people currently studying this model and it's pedagogy who are developing a variety of educational opportunities. Visit https://visitbmc.com/ for more information.

Wattman, Joan. "Interpreting for Deaf People with Dysfluent Language in Forensic Settings: Application of the Integrated Model of Interpreting." Language Deprivation and Deaf Mental Health. Eds. Neil S. Glickman and Wyatte Hall. New York: Routledge, 2019. 210-234. Print.

Colonomos, B., & Moccia, L. (2013). Process Mediation as Mentoring. Mentorship in Sign Language Interpreting (pp. 85-93). Alexandria, VA: RID.

Colonomos, B., & Decker, K. (May 2018)  Mastery in Mentoring : Lifelong Learning RID VIEWS (pp. 32-35)

Gonzalez, D., Vasquez, V., Mikkelson, H. (1991) Fundamentals of Court Interpretation: theory, policy, and practice. Carolina Academic Press: Durham. NC

NCIEC Deaf Interpreter Curriculum (2016) http://www.diinstitute.org/learning-center/deaf-interpreter-curriculum/

The Foundations series is designed to meet learners wherever they are in their journey as interpreters. The tools and the interpreting model taught at Foundations are applicable to students and teachers alike. Both novice and seasoned interpreters have found great benefit from the activity-based learning at Foundations.

Deaf Foundations is offered in ASL. All levels of Deaf Foundations focus on ASL to Gesture, Gesture to ASL, and sight translations.

In all other Foundations seminars, activities and discussions occur in either English or ASL, as is most appropriate in the moment. Odd-numbered seminars focus on the interpreting process from ASL into English; even-numbered seminars focus on interpreting from English into ASL.

There is a minimum of lecture or theory and an emphasis on application. Throughout the weekends participants work in small and large groups with real world texts and scenarios, discussing and analyzing their own decisions, assumptions, and understanding of the task of interpretation.

Participants explore conveying equivalent messages by working through graduated texts and activities, such as  text analysis, back translations, and collaborative interpreting. Earlier modules begin in the consecutive mode of interpreting, and later modules move into the simultaneous mode. Working in small and large groups, participants develop the language necessary to discuss the interpreting task using non-evaluative, non-judgmental language with each other. Participants practice tools for exploring and improving their own interpreting processes, and ultimately, integrate strategies for continuing their own development after seminars have ended.  

The Integrated Model of Interpreting, a cognitive model which combines linguistic, cultural, affective and environmental domains to understand the process of interpreting, is presented, unpacked and applied throughout the eight sessions of this series. The model provides a framework and a language for understanding the components of the interpreting task.

Why Deaf and Coda Foundations?

Why are there Foundations seminars for hearing interpreters, coda interpreters, and deaf interpreters?


Foundations in Your State

Bring the Foundations of Interpreting Seminar Series to your interpreting community! Coordinate with us and your local RID Affiliate Chapter or with colleagues to offer the seminar series locally.


Deaf Foundations Fund


The Deaf Foundations of Interpreting Seminar Series is offered for Deaf Interpreters. This specialized series is for Deaf Interpreters only.

Donations from the larger interpreting community and elsewhere help to defray the cost of providing these seminars to our Deaf Interpreter colleagues.

Click here to contribute.


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