Meet Kari: Jewish DeafBlind Interpreter of the Week

by Rachel Kriegsman / March 2, 2021

Meet Kari de La Viez! This week Kari tells us about growing up in the DC area and her work as a DeafBlind interpreter. Kari loves spending time outside and she recently started volunteering at an animal shelter. We discuss her dream day in DC and some of her favorite Passover traditions since, well, it’s closer than any of us can believe!

Learn more about this week’s Interpreter of the Week in our 1:1 interview.

Rachel: What brought you to DC and what made you stay?

Kari: I was born and raised in Laurel, so I’ve always been close to the DC area. Although I have moved to different areas, DC has always pulled me back because of the connections to all the things I love, like family, friends, and the community. 

Rachel: I know this is the most DC question, but what do you do and how did you get into that? 

Kari: I’m a DeafBlind intervener! I grew up very interested in sign language, and actually started off my career as an educational interpreter (quick note: my career highlight so far has been interpreting a Birthright trip!).

In my spare time when I wasn’t interpreting, I was working closely with a young girl who is DeafBlind. I realized that there is a serious need for DeafBlind interveners, but I was not sure where to start or how to get involved. My current company actually reached out to me after the school I was interpreting at closed due to Covid. I guess you could say that my job found me!

Rachel: What made you interested in sign language?

Kari: When I was in elementary school, my aunt taught me how to fingerspell the alphabet. I spent quite a few years thinking I was fluent in sign language just from knowing the alphabet. Then one day when I saw real ASL being used. I immediately fell in love with it and decided to truly learn the language. Also, I hated the idea of having communication barriers, especially in an area where ASL is so prevalent. By learning how to sign, I’ve been able to connect with people and develop amazing relationships that would not have been possible without knowing sign language.

Rachel: If someone wanted to learn sign language, where would be a good place to start?

Kari: This area is such a great place to learn sign language because Gallaudet University is located in DC! They have a program called ASL Connect, as well as many on-campus ASL classes. ASL Nook is also a great resource.

Rachel: Describe your dream day in the DMV from start to finish.

Kari: My dream day would start with me waking up in a waterfront Airbnb or hotel in D.C. with a few of my friends and my dog. It would be sunny outside, but not too hot, and we would spend the day hiking, swimming, and kayaking. We’d sightsee around D.C., check out all the monuments and museums, and then go to the zoo where I would pet all of the animals. We’d sit at a waterfront outdoor restaurant for dinner, and for dessert we’d go to Baked & Wired to get cupcakes. For whatever reason DC will be lighting off fireworks that night, and we’ll all watch the fireworks while I eat an entire box of cupcakes by myself. 

Rachel: What do you do to relax or for fun at the end of a long week? 

Kari: I just recently started volunteering at Partnership for Animal Welfare and I love going to the shelter to play with the dogs. Outside of that, I like to go for walks, go out to dinner, and anything else where I can spend time with my friends and family. I really prefer to do things outside so I can get fresh air and connect with the world around me. 

Rachel: Do you have a Jewish role model who inspires you?

Kari: I do! Tzvika Greengold has always been a huge role model to me. I think his story demonstrates creativity and relentlessness, which are characteristics I strive to have in my everyday life.

Rachel: What’s your favorite Passover tradition?

Kari: I love going to the store with my friends to load up on kosher cereal, snacks, and most importantly, candy. 

Rachel: Anything else you’d like to share with the DC Jewish community?

Kari: Don’t be hesitant about getting involved! Now that most things are accessible virtually, it’s so much easier to expand your network and really find ways to make a difference in the Jewish community. 

Rachel: Complete this sentence – “When Jews of DC Gather…

Kari: we turn a community into a family.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.