Department of
ASL - English Interpretation

James Van Manen

Title: Assistant Professor

Phone: 312.369.8714


Office: 33 E. Congress, Room 401



James W. Van Manen, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor in the Department of ASL-English Interpretation at Columbia College Chicago.

Dr. Van Manen, or Dr. Jim as his students call him, is originally from Sonoma, California, and earned his Ph.D. in Special Education Administration from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. He also holds a Master of Arts in Linguistics of Signed Languages, also from Gallaudet University. In addition, he holds the CI (Certificate of Interpretation) and CT (Certificate of Transliteration) from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Dr. Jim's Bachelor of Arts is in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from the University of Northern Iowa.

Dr. Jim regularly teaches “Linguistics of American Sign Language,” “Fingerspelling,” and “VRS-VRI Interpretation.” His research focuses on fingerspelling, Deaf art, and Deaf history. He is the author of Ann Silver: ONE WAY, DEAF WAY, which looks at the life and art of the Deaf pop artist Ann Silver. He is working on a textbook about fingerspelling and using an approach to increase clarity of understanding for non-native learners of American Sign Language fingerspelling that is unique in the field. He has been at Columbia since 2008. 

Dr. Jim is a speaker who has presented on a variety of topics including Deaf art, fingerspelling, interpreting humor, Deaf history, interpreter ethics, educational interpreting, linguistics, and the ADA. He is a CODA (he has deaf parents). When he is not teaching, researching, or writing, he is involved in several artistic pursuits involving the depiction of iconic images from American Sign Language.


  • BA, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), University of Northern Iowa
  • MA, Linguistics of Signed Languages, Gallaudet University
  • Ph.D., Special Education Administration, Gallaudet University

Interpreting Credentials

  • CI (Certificate of Interpretation), Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
  • CT (Certificate of Transliteration), Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Courses Taught

  • “Introduction to Interpreting”
  • “Linguistics of American Sign Language” 
  • “Fingerspelling” 
  • “VRS-VRI Interpretation”
  • "Consecutive Interpretation"
  • co-taught "Language and Translation" with Peter Cook
  • "Theory of Interpretation"
  • "Deaf Art Movement/De'VIA"
  • "Deaf Culture"
  • “Practicum 1”
  • “Practicum 2”

Areas of Interest

  • Fingerspelling
  • Deaf art
  • Deaf history

Professional Work

Author of Ann Silver: ONE WAY, DEAF WAY (Empyreal Press, June 2012)