For non-deaf professionals only: If you think you are like her, please raise your hand?

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Part 2 (continued from article 50)

Part 2 continues our discussion about interpreting.

Here's an example of something that sometimes happens after a deaf person gives a presentation to a hearing audience. Instead of commending the deaf person, the hearing people ignore the deaf presenter and instead commend the interpreter for doing such a good job. That can be frustrating for deaf people. My personal interpreter from years ago used situations like this as a “teach moment.” Instead of accepting credit for the deaf person's presentation, she explained to the hearing people that she had merely interpreted what the deaf person presented. Then she encouraged them to commend the deaf presenter and offered to interpret for them.

Sometimes interpreters show up at the last minute to interpret for one or more deaf people and then leave as soon as the meeting is over. Deaf people prefer that interpreters arrive 15-30 minutes early to give them time to get acquainted with the interpreter and for the interpreter to become familiar with the deaf persons signing. In the same respect, after the meeting or function is over, deaf people prefer that the interpreters chat with the deaf people briefly and ask the deaf people for a brief evaluation of their interpreting and what they can do to improve. This demonstrates respect for the deaf people and honors deaf cultural norms.

Once I attended a meeting with deaf consumers and interpreters to discuss some of the issues that come up during interpreting. One issue we discussed was appropriate dress for interpreters. I suggested that interpreters should make sure the way they dress is appropriate for the function or event. One interpreter protested that often there was very little time to clean up and change clothes between interpreting jobs. For example, the interpreter might interpret in a factory and end up with dirty clothes, and then rush to interpret for a meeting in a lawyer's office. I suggested that as a professional, the interpreter needed to take this into consideration before accepting assignments. The agency scheduling the interpreting jobs should also keep this in mind.

Another good example that my favorite professional interpreter set was making the effort to be “non-existent.” She didn't confuse interpreting with performing. When someone performs, they make themselves the center of attention. When someone interprets though, they are there to help others be the center of attention. To deaf people, it sometimes appears that some interpreters are more interested in performing that interpreting. My favorite interpreter of long ago was always observing deaf people and gained so much knowledge, that on some points, she had more knowledge than me about deaf people's needs.

Lastly she was a strict follower of the interpreter's code of ethics. Hopefully today's interpreters will aspire to attain her level of knowledge, skill and attitude.

Of the Deaf People, By the Deaf People, For the Deaf People

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