ASLIE Alum in the Spotlight

Lydia Callis, dubbed “The Signing Sensation” while working next to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his recent press briefings, has become an Internet sensation, one that has attracted countless admirers, a handful of spoofs and increased awareness of the interpreting profession.

And she has connections to Rochester Institute of Technology, where she worked for six years as an interpreter and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the ASL-English Interpretation program at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Prior to that, she graduated from Phoenix College’s Interpreter Training Program in 2006. She has been interpreting for family members for 20 years.

NTID’s ASLIE program is the oldest and largest ASL interpreter training program in the nation, with roots dating back to 1969, with more than 900 interpreters trained. More than 400 graduates have received bachelor’s degrees and work in various settings including education, medicine, law and business. Currently, 160 students are enrolled in the four-year program.

“Lydia was an excellent student,” recalls Linda Siple, a professor in NTID’s ASLIE program. “She was very involved with the deaf community here at NTID. I remember Lydia as being a very expressive and skilled interpreter, highly motivated, gracious and professional.”

NTID President Gerry Buckley says he’s proud of Callis and the interpreting program at NTID. “Lydia’s presence by Mayor Bloomberg’s side during and throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy reminds the public of the important role interpreters play in providing access to vital information. We wish her continued success in her profession.”

Some recent stories about Callis: