DeafBlind Interpreting Workshop Series

Different DeafBlind Interpreting Methods

Presented by CHS & DCI 


Falling into the DeafBlind World

October 11, 2014, 9 AM – 5 PM

Location:   ASL Studio, 3711 N Ravenswood Av, Ste 143, Chicago, IL (Free Parking & ‘L’ Accessible)

Presenters:  Karen Janssen and Bryen M Yunashko

Jump into the DeafBlind world with DB interpreter Karen Janssen and DeafBlind advocate Bryen M Yunashko as they guide you through the various aspects of vision loss, DeafBlind culture, lifestyle, technology and techniques.  An all-day event with fun-filled hands-on experiences, you’ll walk away with a greater understanding of how to interact with DeafBlind consumers.  This workshop has been conducted nationwide to positive reviews and is now finally available in Chicago!

0.7 CEUs

Requesting/Providing DeafBlind Interpreter Services

November 8, 2014, 11 AM – 2:00 PM

Location:   Chicago Lighthouse, 1850 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, IL   (Free Parking)

Presenters:  Karen Janssen and Bryen M Yunashko

So, you get the call… “We have a DeafBlind individual who needs interpreting services.”   You say you can do it and accept the assignment and make plans to show up at the scheduled date and time.  Is that enough?  Probably not.  Every DeafBlind individual is unique with differences in visual ability, signing methods, and much more.  Join Karen Janssen and Bryen Yunashko as they guide you through the questions and answers both the provider and consumer should be asking PRIOR to the assignment.

This workshop will be hosted at LeCOBDA, the monthly DeafBlind club gathering during their Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Chicago Lighthouse.  DeafBlind attendees will also be participating in the workshop and work through role-playing with you.  This workshop will also provide a brief overview of how to be an effective SSP (Support Service Provider).

0.3 CEUs

Essentials of Pro-Tactile

February 28, 2015, 1 PM – 5 PM

Location:   Anixter Center, 2032 N Clybourn Ave, 3rd Floor, Chicago (Free Parking & ‘L’ Accessible)

Presenters:  Mindy Joy Mayer, Julie Somers and Bryen M Yunashko

Join DeafBlind advocates Mindy, Julie and Bryen as we explore the hottest topic in the community today… Pro-Tactile.  What is it?  What does it mean for DeafBlind empowerment and how can interpreters and support providers utilize Pro-Tactile to integrate and convey more information to consumers?  In this workshop, we discuss the essentials of PMA (Philosophy, Method and Attitude) used in Pro-Tactile and the backchanneling cues you can use with your consumer.   This workshop includes live-experience role-playing by guiding individuals to/from Chipotle Restaurant across the street using Pro-Tactile.    (Meal not paid for by Workshop series.  Bring your money.)

While there is no requirement to attend all three workshops, if you plan to attend the Pro-Tactile workshop, it is strongly encouraged that you attend the previous workshops in order to build a foundational understanding of the DeafBlind consumer.

0.4 CEUs

Presenter Bios:

Bryen M Yunashko

Based in Chicago, IL, DeafBlind Bryen M Yunashko got his first taste of advocacy more than a quarter-of-a-century ago, when, as a performer in Los Angeles, he joined forces with a music industry producer to campaign for closed-caption inclusion in music videos, sparking the phrase “I want my MTV too!” and earning a mention in Billboard Magazine. Today, Bryen criss-crosses the country as an advocacy, interpreter and technology trainer specializing in accessibility for DeafBlind individuals. Prior to becoming involved as an advocate, he specialized in technology first as an IT consultant for major corporations and later as a member of the open-source software community serving as Accessibility Outreach Coordinator for the GNOME Desktop Foundation and as marketing team lead and first-ever DeafBlind board member of a major Linux distribution for the openSUSE Project, traveling over 140,000 miles worldwide as speaker and conference organizer. In his current capacity, Bryen serves as member of the Chicago Transit Authority ADA Advisory Committee, chair of the Illinios Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission’s SSP Task Force, member of the National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting and as chair of the National Task Force on DeafBlind Transportation Review and advisor of the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, as well as serving as consultant for agencies and organizations that serve the DeafBlind community.

Karen Janseen

Karen was led to learning ASL and interpreting after learning her daughter was Deaf. She completed the Harper College Sign Language Interpreting Program in 1991 and has worked since as a freelance community interpreter in a variety of settings including VRS. Karen holds a Bachelor of Business degree and worked in the Human Resource field prior to becoming an interpreter. Most recently, Karen has immersed herself in the DeafBlind community as a DBI (DeafBlind Interpreter), volunteer, presenter, advocate and ally. She has “worked” at every Illinois DeafBlind Retreat and serves as a core committee member. Karen served 2 consecutive terms on the IDHHC Interpreter Licensure Board. From 1997 – 2012, Karen taught and developed interpreting courses as an adjunct faculty member. Karen is the current RID CMP/CEU Sponsor on behalf of Illinois RID and has served IRID in a variety of capacities over the years.

Mindy Joy Mayer

My name is Mindy Joy Mayer. I have Usher Syndrome Type 1, which means I am totally deaf. I am a Chicago native, born and raised. I learned sign language in Sign Exact English (SEE) from my mom as she learned from a mother of a deaf son.

I went to a mainstream school in Deerfield, IL until 7th grade, and I went to Illinois School for the Deaf (ISD) in Jacksonville, IL. That is where I began to practice ASL.  I already know about my Usher Syndrome when I was 8 years old, but I didn’t think anything about it. It started at ISD, when I began to understand I have a vision problem. I began to get involved with establishing a group support for the student who have Usher Syndrome.

I moved to Seattle, Washington and was there for 9 years, which I have learned so much about DeafBlind community, communication modes, SSPs, and how to advocate myself as a DeafBlind person. I realized that Illinois does not sustain a strong support system in the DeafBlind community, which has made my decision to relocate back to Chicago to help build the support system and educate people about DeafBlind.

I began working at The Chicago Lighthouse as a DeafBlind Community Outreach in 2006 and I met many people and recruited DeafBlind into the community. In 2008, we had our first DeafBlind Retreat in Illinois, and we recently held our 5th anniversary. I am no longer a DeafBlind Community Outreach, but I am working under i Can Connect (iCC) as a telecommunication instructor.

I enjoy spending my free time with my family. I love going on cruises every year. I like to play games, chatting with anybody, and watch TV.

Julie Somers

Julie Somers has been working as a Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind for the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services since 2010. She also co-directs the Illinois DeafBlind Retreat which has successfully completed its 5th biennial retreat. Each retreat, many DeafBlind members are trained and given opportunities to assume greater responsibilities on the organizing committee, and oversee programs for the DeafBlind, SSP, and DeafBlind interpreters to learn how to effectively work together. Julie also sits on the SSP Taskforce hosted by Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission with the goal of setting up a SSP Program in the state of Illinois.  On the side, she serves as the treasurer for KODA Illinois organization.  She holds  a Master’s degree from Illinois State University and a Bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet University.  She is DeafBlind and resides with her Deaf husband and three hearing sons.



Contact for more information:

Raymond Rodgers at 312-445-8571 or click here to email.


Chicago Hearing SocietyDeaf Communication by Innovation



CEUs Provided by:

Illinois Registry of interpreters for Deaf

Registry of interpreters for the Deaf