Debra L Russell

Adjunct • Ph.D

Exceptional, Deaf, and Interpreter Education • College of Education & Human Services

Areas of Expertise

Debra Russell is interested in the study of American Sign Language- English interpretation, signed language research, and issues of language acquisition. Her primary interests include factors that affect the quality of interpretation provided between Deaf and non-deaf people, particularly in legal settings such as courtrooms, and in inclusive education settings. Dr. Russell has also been involved in research examining the needs of students with disabilities in post secondary settings, the evaluation of interpreters in medical settings, and the creation of best practice standards for support services for Deaf and hard of hearing learners in post-secondary settings. Dr. Russell has worked with and taught interpreters across North America and has written broadly on issues of interpreter assessment, consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, and curriculum development for interpreter education programs.


2000 University of Calgary - Ph.D.
Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Psychology

1996 Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada
Awarded Certificate of Interpretation (COI)

1995 University of Calgary - Master of Education (with Distinction)
Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Policy & Administration

1986 University of Alberta - Bachelor of Education
Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Policy & Administration

1977 Red Deer College - Rehabilitation Services Practitioner
Awarded Top Student of the Year


Debra Russell is an ASL-English interpreter and interpreter educator from Calgary, Canada. Her interpreting practice spans over thirty years, and is community based in a range of medical, legal, mental health and employment settings. As the Director of the Western Canadian Centre for Deaf Studies, at the University of Alberta, her teaching has also taken her to six continents. In addition to her teaching, she maintains an active research program, with current projects that focus on Deaf Interpreters, legal interpreting, and mediated education settings for Deaf children. In 2011 she was elected President of WASLI. Deb is also a dedicated student of yoga, who loves to travel.


2004 Phyllis Joynt Mentorship Award
Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada
Granted in recognition of national mentorship abilities

2002-2003 University of Alberta
Post-Doctoral Fellowship
David Peikoff Chair of Deafness Studies

2000 R.W. Letourneau Award
Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Southern Alberta
Granted for outstanding contribution

1997-2000 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Doctoral Fellowship
1998 University of Alberta
Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship
1997 University of Calgary
Graduate Studies Fee Scholarship
1996-1997 University of Calgary
Dean’s Special Doctoral Scholarship
1996 University of Calgary
Faculty of Education Admissions Scholarship
1995 ACRID Lifetime Membership Award
Granted for outstanding service to profession
1992 AVLIC Edward C. Bealer Award of Merit
Granted for outstanding contribution to profession
1988 Grant MacEwan Community College
Community Education Award - First Recipient


2006-present Founding Member
World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI)
2008 – present Member
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

1979 – present Founding Member, (previous positions: Past President, President, Public Relations Director)
Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada

1979 – present Lifetime Active Member (previous positions: Past President, President, Public Relations Director)
Alberta Chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
1984 – present Member
Conference of Interpreter Trainers

1994 Advisory Committee Member
Premiers Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities Project: Standards for interpreting in educational settings.

Grants and Contracts Awarded

ED6X3 – Social Sciences Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
Access to Education: Deaf Students in Inclusive Settings
$130, 200. 00
April 2007 – March 2010 (extended to March 2011)

ED6T2 – Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Education of Children with Disabilities in Ukraine
April 2008 – March 2013

ED6P2 - AVLIC TOI Contract
November 2004 – March 2022

ED6S0Killam Research Grant
Ukrainian Sign Language Project
July 2006 – December 2007(ended)

AVLIC Test Development Grant
Sept. 2004-Dec. 2005 (Ended)

Ukrainian College Foundation
$3000.00 for equipment??

Grants Held by the Outside Universities

Economic and Social Research Council
ESRC-SSRC Collaborative Visiting Fellowship 2009
University College of London
Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre
London, UK

Australian Research Council Discovery Project
Comprehension of sign language interpreted courtroom proceedings and interactions: Can deaf people serve as jurors?
-with Jemina Napier, et. al. $300,000

Research Advisory Council
Bridging the Gap
-with Katherine Woodcock

Current Practices in Interpreting in Legal Settings
- with Len Roberson and Risa Shaw
- $2500.00 National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centres (NCIEC)


Publications & Presentations

Books 2
Book chapters 9
Refereed articles 29
Manuscripts accepted for publication 4
Published Conference Proceedings 18
Curriculum and Published Tests 18
Book reviews 2
Research reports 12
Presentations: Internationally 96
Presentations: National 130

Sample of current publications:


Russell, D. (submitted for publication). Deaf/non-deaf Interpreter Teams: The complexity
of professional practice. In L. Leeson and C. Stone (Eds.) IATIS Yearbook. London: Routledge.

Stone, C., and Russell, D. (submitted for publication) A Comparative analysis of depicting
signs in IS and natural sign language interpreting. In Rosenstock, R. and Napier, J. (Ed.) International Sign: Linguistics, Usage and Status. Gallaudet University Press: Washington DC.

Russell, D. (2013). Convergence and a Call to Action. In E. Winston and C. Monikowski
(Eds.) Evolving Paradigms in Interpreter Education. (pp. 188-191) Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Malcolm, K. & Russell, D. (2013). Co-mentoring: Accountability in Action. In B. Winston & R. Lee (Eds). Mentoring and Sign Language Interpreting. (pp.97-103) Gallaudet University Press. Washington, DC.
Russell, D. (2012). Court/legal interpreting. In Y. Gambier & L. van Doorslaer (Eds.), Handbook of Translation Studies, Volume 3 (pp. 17–20). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Russell, D. (2012). Designing a research project: Beginning with the end in mind. In B. Nicodemus & L. Swabey (Eds.) Essays in Interpreting Research (pp. 331-376). John Benjamins: Amsterdam.

Russell, D. & Malcolm, K. (2009). Assessing ASL-English interpreters: The Canadian model of national certification. In C. Angelelli & H. Jacobson (Eds.) Testing and assessment in translation and interpreting: A call for a dialogue between research and practice (pp. 331-376). John Benjamins: Amsterdam.

Russell, D. & McLeod, J. (2009). Educational interpreting: Multiple perspectives of our work. In J. Mole (Ed.), International perspectives on educational interpreting (pp. 128-144). Direct Learned Services Ltd: Brassington, UK.

Russell, D. (2008). Interpreter preparation conversations: Multiple perspectives. In D. Russell and S. Hale (Eds.) Studies in interpretation, volume 7: Issues in legal interpretation (pp. 123-147). Gallaudet Press: Washington, DC.
Russell, D. (2005). Consecutive and simultaneous interpreting. In T. Janzen (Ed.), Topics in signed language interpreting (pp. 135-164). John Benjamins: Amsterdam.
Russell, D. (2004). Looking back, thinking forward: Signed language research in North America. In R. Petryshen, & V. Bondar (Eds.), Modern trends of special education development (pp. 165-172). Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine: Kyiv.

RussellContact Information

(904) 620-2930