"Untold Stories of Soviet Sign Language Interpreters: Stalin Regime"

Image of Arkady Belozovsky
Presented By: Arkady Belozovsky
Date/Time: March 25, 2023 9am-12pm MT
RID CEUs: 0.3 PS
Presentation Language: ASL

Workshop Description:

History books report that over 40 million people were killed during Josef Stalin’s dictatorship, but what about Deaf people and Soviet Sign Language (SSL) interpreters? This presentation explores untold stories of Deaf intellectuals who were purged by Stalin’s secret police, SSL interpreter’s and Deaf victim’s stories that began to be told as early as the Mikhail Gorbachev era. The history of the Soviet Union’s Deaf Intellectual era will be explored and how this led to the execution of 35 Deaf people while 4 SSL interpreters were there in the interrogation rooms and during the jailing period.

Workshop Objectives:

As a result of attending this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Describe SSL interpreter’s roles and duties during the Stalin regime
  • discuss how to handle and communicate with Deaf jailers
  • practice and prepare yourself to work in this setting in the future
  • analyze your ethical decision making in abusive powers of the system
  • Identify the benefits of having more awareness of this history of USSR SSL interpreters

              Presenter Bio:

              Arkady Belozovsky grew up in the USSR, performing as a folk dancer, actor, magician and tightrope walker in what is now Ukraine. He comes from a long line of Deaf family members, as a third-generation Deaf person. As a teenager, he and his family immigrated to the United States. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as three professional certificates from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He also received a certificate of Human Rights Education Training from US Institute of Diplomacy and Human Rights. He went on to teach ASL/Deaf Studies and Interpreting at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at Rochester Institute of  Technology (RIT). He also taught at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester
              and served as the Co-Director of University of New Hampshire at Manchester’s (UNHM) Deaf Studies Program. Arkady was the first full-time Deaf faculty member at Brown University, where he taught for 8 years. He has been in the teaching and training fields for a total of 28 years and has an American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA)-Professional Certificate. 

              Currently working as a President / Owner of Synergy WOW, LLC as well as a full-time self-employed freelance Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) and CLIP-R (legal) for 30 years, Arkady has traveled the world presenting on topics such as the immigrant / refugee & world experience, various topics in interpreting, finding one’s identity, Deaf history & culture, empowerment, ethics, and entrepreneurism. 

              Arkady also served as the After-Hours Emergency Referral and CART Services coordinator for the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) for 2 years. Four years ago, he began interpreting emergency press conferences for the NY Governor’s briefings since March 2020, Rhode Island State of the State, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, and Vermont State of the State. 

              Over thirty years’ experience as a community interpreter, working in a variety of settings (i.e. medical, mental health, legal, court, one-to-one, small and large group, TV media, employment, sight translations on videos, plenary, tactile, Deaf-Blind, conference platform interpreting): Russian Sign Language (including ex-Soviet republics), American Sign Language and International Sign as well as Japanese Sign (intermediary) -Highlights include: regional, national and international conferences – UN, WASLI, DHI, JDC, CIT, IDTF, International Deaf Museum Conference, Massachusetts State House and Senate, Vermont Deaf Rally, Deaf Studies Conference, Deaf Way II, RI & NY Governors briefings, etc.

              I have been collecting and verifying information for on the ground operations, acting as a bridge for Ukrainian Society of the Deaf (UTOG) and other non-profit organizations, a powerhouse of intel and life-saving resources, so they can support Deaf non-profits and individuals who have redirected their cause to focus the war. Other duties include providing advocacy between different groups/regions; fundraising; gathering and delivering real-time news updates; and RSL/ASL/IS to English translations.

              Arkady has three Deaf children and one hard of hearing boy. His eldest two boys are age 25 and age 19. He also has a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. He lives in East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

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