Performer, Presenter, Writer, Advocate, CODA, Interpreter

Wink’s “Winkshops” (workshop) are presented nationwide. He has presented at numerous state, regional, national, and local conferences/agencies even online. Wink can be booked for the following Winkshops and can work with your organization to develop material and presentations that best suit your local community.

Idioms! Do You See What I’m Saying?

Make The English Tangible In ASL

Have you ever received feedback that you should “show” more, and “tell” less? This is excellent advice, but a bit hard to follow without further explanation. Picture a train...What do you see? Now ask a friend to picture a train and have them explain or draw what they first saw. Is it the same image you had? Most likely not. Everyone, regardless of culture and language, pictures things differently in their heads. These variations in mental “seeing,” or construal, help account for the wide range of communication and language use we encounter every day.

This workshop applies visual-spatial techniques in order to better produce visual language. ASL has more than simple lexical signs and fingerspelling, which make up the “tell” options. Some of the “show” options come in the form of depiction. Depiction is a topic that has made quite a stir among researchers in ASL linguistics. It includes depicting verbs, surrogation, partitioning, blending, affect, mouth morphemes, other non-manual signals, and networking. Using these aspects of ASL, interpreters can create clear and powerful ASL messages that create a bridge between consumers.

When we see how Deaf people developed ASL, and how it has evolved into the complex language it is today, we see much of that was due to their subjective knowledge and experiences. This workshop encourages participants to think about the objects and required actions in a sentence in order to formulate an ASL concept based on their experiential views of the world, and do so without imposing their own biases. This framework takes English and makes it tangible in ASL. *Presented in ASL*

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English idioms can be an interpreter’s worst nightmare. However, idioms are a common form of expression, used with purpose. Interpreters are supposed to take a message and convey it with the speaker’s intent into a language most accessible to the receiver. If you revert to the receiver’s second language during the use of an idiom, the intention

may be lost. Imagine interpreting the phrase, “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” When I was a kid, I signed that — almost verbatim — to my Deaf father. Let’s just say we spent an additional 15 minutes clearing up why the mechanic would want my dad to skin our cat. On the other hand, the intent can be lost when we try to convert the idiom to the lowest common denominator. An idiom is often used as a “period” to a sentence, which is part of the crucial information about that message that must come across to the receiver.

This workshop isn’t limited to only practicing these idioms. Rather, interpreting idioms becomes easier with a little theory to build these interpretations upon. This workshop demonstrates how to break down idioms by the meaning of the English expression, not by the individual words that are used. Participants will use the structures of both English and ASL to their benefit, as well as learn tools that will enable them to analyze these idioms and discuss best practices with regards to interpreting them. This will be accomplished by the use of dozens of samples, some of which have multiple meanings and various options for delivery. This workshop sets the groundwork for deconstructing English idioms in order to determine their core meaning and strategies to effectively interpret them into ASL concepts. *Presented in ASL*

Space Walk

Every interpreter has been there: you set up a beautiful and visually clear scene, and are thrilled about your fantastic use of space. Then the speaker introduces a new concept that doesn’t fit in your masterpiece. What do you do? How can you organize your space to make everything fit?

There is a tool that can help guide interpreters to efficiently arrange visual concepts to make the most of their space: spacial frames. A major difference between English and ASL is that ASL uses space and kinetics in a 3-dimensional manifestation (Winston, 1995, 1996). The use of this spatial frames will help interpreters to create translations into a visual-spatial language from a spoken language that uses no space.

Proper use of spacial frames allows for clearer depiction of comparisons and complex relationships. Instead of merely using body shifting or static listings which can limit detail or expansion, spacial frames allow discrete and simultaneous creation of visual images with extensive detail without cluttering the visual field. They even have the flexibility to build ancillary spacial frames for additional information.

For example: An individual describes three houses he is considering buying. In the course of discussion, he lists details such as the locations of the houses, what each house looks like, and the pros and cons of each house. Creating three distinct spacial frames provides generous space for descriptive detail and allows for additions if the speaker retroactively adds them in future utterances. Likewise, if he includes contrasts, additional frames may be necessary.

This workshop introduces the concept of space frames with real world application on how to create and then transition between frames. Participants practice spacial techniques and guidelines to enhance their language use, applying a practical rubric to organize their thoughts and make the best use of their space. *Presented in ASL*

ADA An ASL Guide

Co-Written With Stephanie Nichols (

Interpreters Market

How does an agency work? Should I be an educational interpreter or a Video Interpreter? Will VRI allow me to work from home? Regardless of whether you are about to graduate, have recently graduated or if it has been years since you graduated an Interpreter Training Program, there are many questions regarding the business of interpreting as well as a desire to improve the business aspects of one’s job. This workshop focuses on the major industries of the Sign Language Interpreter’s market: Freelance interpreting, both with an agency and/or without, VRS, VRI, Educational in k-12 to post secondary and all the other job opportunities within this wonderful field. 


            We will also discuss how to please your employer, perspective clients and/or how to make your company shine, how to do your job effectively, what can you do when you screw up, what certifications and other avenues that will maximize your professional resume, how to go about finding jobs, and various other topics including plenty of time for question and answers!

Windell “Wink" Smith Jr
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Emoting Emotions

Humans show emotions everyday; in fact, we embed emotions in words as a vehicle to express ourselves. Speakers employ emotions to give their audience a call to action, to ponder, and to teach. We as interpreters must understand a wide range of emotions and how to effectively incorporate them in our interpretation, requiring a wide use of facial features and inflection in our sign production as well as intonations in our vocal production. To be fully equipped to convey emotions we must first be able to understand what they are, how they are used, and how we can fix them with our own experiences to fully comprehend. In this workshop participants will be exposed to a wide range of emotions and are asked to pull out their experiences in order to put them in perspective, then translate them into proper ASL affect.

Blockbuster: Cinematic ASL

Creating Deliberate Practice

What does it take to become an expert? The journey to being an expert brings practitioners to conferences, workshops, webinars, and mentoring to learn from peers who have devoted hours of research and constructed presentations to provide tools that can be taken home. However, passively listening to a lecture, reading a skill development book, and watching vlogs will not transform that practitioner into an expert, nor will working eighty hours a week. The key is to incorporate deliberate practice by identifying a goal that can be narrowed to the smallest unit of skill, and to practice that skill unit until it is mastered. After exhausting all possible ways of wringing learning from the practice, the next skill unit can be identified and practiced.

Researchers Simon & Chase (1973) point out that it can take up to a decade of deliberate practice to obtain this desired level of expertise. This workshop brings research from Simon and Chase, Ericsson, and Bloom to sign language interpreters to forever dispel the myth that mastery is unattainable. Diving into these researchers’ work has given Wink the resources needed to define how to create individualized deliberate practice regimens. He will discuss and model how to accomplish this.

Some may assume that fingerspelling is such a ubiquitous aspect of ASL that they have no more to learn about it. However, deliberate practice and research helps one gain a deeper understanding by way of breaking down this broad topic into distinct categorizations of lexical fingerspelling, and the functions of fingerspelling in conversational repair. Deliberate practice and research helps one gain a deeper understanding of the process. Likewise, more experienced interpreters may want to hone their non-manual signals (NMS). Ericsson's research (2006) shows that deliberate practice is not simply practicing things you already know. Instead, it requires digging deeper and learning the differences between lexicalized mouth morphemes (PAH, AF- FO) and modifiers (BRRR, SAO) as well as exploring the layers and grammatical complexity that fall under the umbrella of NMS (Bridges, 1996).

This workshop breaks down how participants can analyze and identify their own goals for practice, demonstrates how to deliberately practice discrete linguistic aspects, and provides an opportunity to begin this process. *Presented in ASL*

Have you ever seen an ASL story performance and thought, "That's like watching a movie!"? Television and film use certain conventions (often referred to as their "grammar") when recording and editing audiovisual media. ASL literature has been found to use the same types of conventions by ASL writers (Krentz, 2006. Bauman, 2006.) This workshop examines the parallels between cinematic techniques and ASL grammar conventions such as use of space, depiction, sign modification, and facial affect (Wink, 2011).

A common misconception is that Cinematic ASL is only used by ASL performers, so is only appropriate for theatrical interpreting. This is simply not true. Cinematic ASL techniques are used by native signers in a myriad of settings, and have numerous applications for interpreting: when discussing anatomy, conducting an interview in a legal setting, teaching history, or telling a story. One benefit in studying these techniques observed by past participants is the variety of options that this workshop presents. ASL messages can be composed of so much more than a few rote approaches.

Cinematic techniques used by the Deaf community in storytelling and conversation will enhance interpreters’ work as well. Incorporating these techniques and ASL grammatical features supports linguistic integrity in interpreted messages. If someone wants to create captivating “blockbuster” of ASL literature or stunning visual interpreting work, they must be aware of and practice these conventions.

In addition to learning how to produce such concepts expressively, it is imperative interpreters are able to recognize them receptively. ASL signers, including performers, commonly use techniques such as long shots, close ups, and panning shots to show action in ASL narratives. Once interpreters recognize cinematic techniques in action, they must also be able to deduce their intended function and purpose within the interaction. Without catching the cinematic action, an interpreter can misunderstand the interaction between referents, creating miscues.

This workshop includes some of the most important conventions for conveying meaning through particular camera and editing techniques (as well as some of the specialized vocabulary of film production) which relate directly to ASL’s use of space, depiction, eye gaze, and other parts of ASL grammar commonly employed by native ASL users. *Presented in ASL*

Creating ASL Stories

Classifier stories have been a long tradition in Deaf culture, it shows one of the artistic side of American Sign Language. However, creating a story without English intrusion takes practice. In this workshop we will bring classifiers to life with transforming objects to handshapes, in conjunction with Required Actions, and surrogation. Applying the tools that are presented, you can implement deliberate practice to provide comfort with ASL to enhance your language use which will blend into your interpreting.

Layers! Applying Animation to ASL Construct

The field of American Sign Language linguistic has looked to other fields to enhance our understanding of various attributes of ASL. This interdisciplinary approach helps interpreters broaden their knowledge of and their outlook on ASL, allowing them to incorporate various tools into their products. Wink has studied the field of cartoon animation and computer generated images to find application for sign language interpreters. The process that animators go through to create their work of art is strikingly similar to how ASL images can be created and depicted.

Additionally, the practice that animators employ to enhance their skills can be applied to deliberate practice for interpreters. Animators often spend hours studying how objects work, move, look, and are expressed in order to deliver life-like attributes through a lifeless medium. If interpreters study these same techniques, they can see their work through the lens of an an animator rather than the headset of a sound technician. They can then expand their options to produce visually equivalent messages.

One of the greatest hurdles for interpreters is building depiction. Following the concepts of animation, we find that they build objects in layers. This process allows animators to build the object section by section to give it a more 3D appearance, and to simplify and organize the construction process. Once interpreters realize they have the ability to build the depiction with layers, they often find brilliant and innovative ways to produce the object, and the process becomes much more manageable.

Interpreters can draw on these animation principles to create visual images and to organize their thoughts. By applying techniques found in the animation text book “Animation, The Whole Story.” (Beckerman, 2012) augmented with examples from film, ASL performers, and interpreting material, this workshop provides interpreters with useful application and deliberate practice. *Presented in ASL*

Parsing: A New Practice Model For Interpreters

Parsing is an innovative tool that gives interpreters and students a deliberate practice model to enhance their work. It forces users to break English form and to think critically about ASL when generating options for rendering an interpreted message in ASL.

Sign language interpreters seek message equivalency. The interpreter education landscape has historically focused on language acquisition, interpreting models, and other tools to assist second language users to become familiar with ASL grammar and provide techniques to provide message equivalency (Cokely, 1984. Lee, 1992). These sets of theoretical directions leave the user to make decisions without an explicit guide. The goal is to break the source message from its form and reconstruct the target message within the constraints of its linguistic system...but how?

When presented with a flowchart of guided questions, participants discover more effective and reproducible results in message comprehension and translation of the target language. This is parsing: to separate out and compartmentalize the message in order to unpack, understand, and practice English-to-ASL interpreting with detailed steps that utilize the interpreter’s abilities and knowledge of both languages.

This workshop will instruct participants on how to parse written English texts using a flowchart which will guide comprehension of the English text (and detachment from it) and provide structured choices for the target text. This deliberate practice provides the key to creating an internal framework for processed interpretation. With continued use and internalization of the process, participants will produce live work with more awareness and intentional choices for creating equivalent messages. *Presented in ASL*

“From one presenter to another, this workshop is an excellent opportunity to practice with such a masterful and engaging presenter.” - Keith Wann, CI/CT, NIC Master

Creating Connections Within Our Community

Connections... One of the most useful tools for us humans to utilize for solving serious problems and can guide us to find answers. What kind of connections do interpreters have? The obvious answer is that we have connections to the Deaf community... But do you? How can laying out our connections help guide us to infuse passion in our work? How can figuring out our own connections to language can help us seek out ways to strengthen the connections? Enjoy this entertaining keynote by Wink, where we will talk about our connections. 

Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is essential to properly advocating for your rights as a Deaf American. To be able to explain clearly and to identify the correct titles that apply in any given situation is key to getting access and services you are entitled to under the law.

This workshop will focus on explaining the three (3) ADA titles that apply to the Deaf community and will help answer common questions. Learning about these can empower you to become an effective advocate for yourself and for your friends and family.

For an example we will discuss:

How to ask and get an interpreter

What to do when they say "bring your own interpreter"

How to make sure an interpreter will be present

Signer vs. Interpreter

Certified vs. Qualified

What to do when they provide someone who "signs a little"

Did you know that the law requires your employer to provide auxiliary aids to allow you to function at your job more efficiently? What are "reasonable accommodations"? This fun workshop will focus on helping you retain and learn how to advocate your rights in a very simple manner. The workshop is presented in ASL with open questions and answers, providing you with the tools to help you advocate in this frustrating world.

Partition Zones

Interpreters sometimes wish for an additional hand or the ability to summon a twin to complete a concept. Unfortunately, we currently do not have the technology or the magic to accomplish this. We therefore must rely on peer-reviewed linguistics.

The above wish can also be applied to showing two distinct concepts in tandem. “I walked into the room and everyone was starring at me!” can be produced as two separate concepts in isolation with role shifting and narration, but they can also be produced in a simultaneous display with the use of partitioning. ASL linguists have identified partitioning as designating a section of your space to represent another entity. This technique, native to ASL grammar, can help signers to better produce what is so clear in their mental landscape.

ASL linguist and chair of Gallaudet’s linguistics department, Paul Dudis, says in a 2004 paper, “Partitioning zones... their existence allows for the creative potential of signers during creation of real space blends.” We see how surrogating and then blending with other depiction techniques can crystalize the message. This workshop covers partitioning in various ways: manual articulators as partitionable zones, scales of blends, how onomatopoeias coincide with blends, and how non-manual signals can be partitioned. *Presented in ASL*