Degree in interpreting leads to risks, reward for local entrepreneur
By John Beaudoin
Melding decades of interpreter work with the entrepreneurial spirit has led Stephanie Winslow to the ultimate risk-taking – business ownership.
And just ask her … it’s her passion and reason for working every single day.
“Building community where ASL (American Sign Language) is treasured by all stakeholders drives my passion,” said Winslow, owner of ASL Interpreter Connect, a Sign Language interpreting agency that has offered on-site/in-person and virtual training for ASL/English interpreters since 2010. Her firm specializes in skills-based and language acquisition focused training as well as healthcare interpreting topics that can lead to specialty credentialing. “Successful online classes afford me the time to create high-end in-person events so ASL language learners have choice and balance.”
Winslow said she was inspired to become an interpreter when deaf friends introduced her to the rich and beautiful language of American Sign Language and encouraged her to pursue training and a degree in interpreting.
“I have presented at multiple conferences and mentored literally hundreds of interpreters both in-person and via online tools,” said Winslow, who offers a multitude of online education at www.asllearn.com. “One of my biggest challenges was helping colleagues get the opportunity to gain the native-like sign language skills they need by being around deaf people who are eloquent and knowledgeable about a number of different topics. The solution was a hybrid model: to film these content experts for online learning and create in-person experiences for immersive and authentic learning.”
Winslow reached out to experts and asked them to model topics such as storytelling highlighting different countries and even technical content, such as how the chambers of the heart function. She then built content into 3-5 minute segments for skills growth, mentoring and even professional continuing education. The courses are always available and streamed to any device.
“The more language fluency there is, the more deaf children can thrive with people communicating with and around them,” Winslow said, noting her pride in her “Language Inclusion Model.”
In her 30-plus year career, Winslow has seen sign language interpreting become more regulated through credentialing based on skill and requirements for continuing education.
“In order to keep growing toward bilingual fluency, I used to have to make an appointment with a deaf friend to meet up or go to a college library to borrow VHS tapes of deaf people to watch in the lab,” Winslow noted. “Now, I can video chat with deaf colleagues from literally all around the world.”
Technology now allows Winslow to use ASLlearn to give access to clear and purposeful language in smaller bites that fit the learners’ schedules
As for Winslow’s risks, she said heavy financial investment, travel to film, curriculum development and technology has been necessary during her venture.
“Producing and marketing digital content is another field that has a myriad of tools and steep learning curves,” she said. “Velocity has connected me with colleagues and resources I didn’t know about so that I can move from being a practitioner to a successful business owner.”
Growing as an entrepreneur and small business owner, in her hometown of Lee’s Summit, has been meaningful to Winslow.
“Learning and growing … with other small business owners and mentors like Jon Cundiff has helped increased my sense of community while growing as a business owner,” she said.