Who we are & what we do

At Dovetail, we believe...

Quality ASL interpreting can make a difference.

American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are an incredibly important bridge between the Deaf community and hearing community. Talented, motivated ASL interpreters can accurately convey all the different emotions and nuances of a conversation, and their interpreting can bring life to theatrical productions, conferences, talks, workshops, and college classes. When ASL interpreters don’t have the skills—or the right mindset—to do a great job, they can have a huge negative impact on the people they serve. At Dovetail, our goal is to provide qualified, experienced, motivated interpreters who will make everyone in the conversation feel connected and understood.

Better communication is good for everyone.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses and government entities to provide accommodations to enable effective communication with people who are deaf and hard of hearing. But the benefits of effective communication go far beyond fulfilling a legal requirement. When everyone can share ideas, learn together, and work together, the world is a better place because of that connection.

Kristi Kallina, Founder & President

As a child of two Deaf parents (a CODA—child of deaf adult), Kristi is a native ASL signer. Throughout her childhood in New Orleans, Kristi regularly acted as an interpreter for both parents. Her mother had significant medical problems, and Kristi regularly accompanied her to her medical appointments to interpret.

At age 19, Kristi became one of fewer than 20 certified ASL interpreters in Louisiana. In her 20s, she worked extensively as an interpreter in a variety of settings, including higher education. (Throughout her career, Kristi has worked as an interpreter at a variety of colleges and universities, including Tulane University, Louisiana State University, the University of New Orleans, the University of Louisville, Texas State University, the University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, Austin Community College, and the University of Texas at San Antonio).

With two of her own children having been identified as Deaf, Kristi moved from New Orleans to Austin in 2005 so her children could attend the Texas School for the Deaf. Kristi has travelled extensively throughout every region of Texas working as a courtroom and legal interpreter. 

In Texas, Kristi earned certifications as a Court Interpreter and as a Master Interpreter through the Texas Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI). In addition to these certifications, Kristi has also earned her BEI-Level 5 certification, her RID Certificate of Interpretation, her RID Certificate of Translation, and her NIC Advanced certificate.

Starting in 2014, Kristi began producing ASL translations of English written documents, which were then recorded in video format. Kristi produced these translations for a wide variety of documents, ranging from K-12 standardized testing to company policies and employee handbooks. Kristi was instrumental in developing a multi-step process (now the gold standard across the industry) for producing guaranteed-accurate English to ASL translations.

In 2019, Kristi founded Dovetail with the goal of providing high quality ASL interpreting and translating services. Since then, she has built a team of qualified, talented ASL interpreters and translators who can handle a wide variety of different assignments and projects.

Kristi is a proud mother and grandmother; her first grandchild (who has hearing parents) knew over 150 signs at 20 months old! Kristi lives in the Austin area with her husband (who is also a CODA) and their cat, Zuko. She loves to travel, and she’s an avid fan of Austin FC, rarely missing a game.

Sonja Smith, Operations Director

Sonja is an ASL interpreter and educator with 25 years of experience in the field. Here at Dovetail, Sonja helps with interpreter assessments and ensuring the high quality of the interpreting and translation services we provide. In addition to her work for Dovetail, Sonja also works as a faculty member at the University of Louisville (in the Interpreter Training Program).

Sonja earned her BA in Deaf Education from Baylor University, and she earned her MA in Interpreting Studies with an emphasis in Interpreter Education from Western Oregon University. Her professional certifications include a National Interpreter Certification through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID NIC), and a Master certification and a Court certification through the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI Master, BEI Court). 

Sonja previously worked as an adjunct faculty member at Austin Community College, and she has taught numerous professional workshops related to ASL interpreting. Sonja has serviced as a board member for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf as well as the Texas Society of Interpreters for the Deaf, and she is currently the treasurer for the Kentucky Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

As part of Sonja’s university faculty position, she performs ASL interpreter assessments on a weekly basis, and she brings her expertise in this area to Dovetail. Sonja helps evaluate current and prospective Dovetail interpreters for their skill level in different areas. And she helps ensure that the right interpreters get sent to the right jobs, matching their individual skills with the specific requirements of each assignment.

Sonja lives in the Louisville, KY area with her partner, Steve, and their three Boston Terriers. In her free time, she volunteers at a local Boston Terrier rescue organization. She also enjoys kayaking and scuba diving.

Krystal Moncada, Office Manager

Krystal is an experienced ASL interpreter who has worked in the Austin area since 2004. Here at Dovetail, Krystal handles the interpreter scheduling and the communication with prospective and existing clients.

Like Kristi, Krystal is also a CODA and a native ASL signer. She earned her certification as an ASL interpreter straight out of high school, and she began working as an interpreter at Austin Community College. Since then, she has also worked as an interpreter at the Texas School for the Deaf as well as Texas State University.

Krystal lives in the Austin area with her husband (who is also a CODA), their three children, and their two dogs, Teddy and Derk. Krystal enjoys spending time with her family, going to church, camping, and vacationing at the beach.

our interpreters

We have over 200 highly qualified, experienced interpreters who come from wide range of backgrounds and bring a wide range of expertise and certifications to the table. Our goal is to provide the best interpreting experience in any situation, and we do this by carefully vetting our interpreters and selecting the right interpreter (with the right skills and experience) for the job. At Dovetail, 66% of our interpreters have earned either a BEI Advanced, BEI Master, or RID National Certification. These certifications represent some of the highest levels of professional mastery as an ASL interpreter—and we take great pride in having cultivated a team of interpreters with this industry-leading level of certification!

Our interpreters are flexible, and they know how to communicate with clients who have different education levels as well as different linguistic needs and preferences (for example, people who are deaf-blind). They have interpreted at Fortune 500 companies, at DHS detention centers, and at Broadway shows. They have worked with victims of major natural disasters, and they have worked with students earning advanced degrees. No matter your ASL needs, our interpreters have you covered.

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