Differences Interpreter and Intervenor.

Hey now, hello all.

My last article I nudged at the differences between an Interpreter and an Intervenor.  I will go further today, explaining more fully.

An Interpreter is a professional who has completed college certification (some even have university degrees) in English to ASL and vice versa interpretation.  Plus, they usually have a certificate in Deaf studies.  This is the usual road to becoming a qualified interpreter.  An Intervenor is also a professional who has completed, in most cases, a degree in Intervenor studies.  Most Intervenors with a degree are located in Ontario, where George Brown College has a two year program for Intervenor studies.  Elsewhere in Canada, some provinces train intervenors, over a shorter period of time.

An Interpreter is skilled with American Sign Language, and the better ones have much more experience.  An Intervenor has skills in ASL, two hand manual, tactile signing, large print notes, and voice over interpreting.

To explain the differences in better detail; I will use a church scenario.  Lets simplify by calling the Interpreter Kelly and the Intervenor Riley – both unisex names!

So Kelly would stand on the altar with the minister, or, more commonly, on the floor at the front of the congregation.   Let us assume that the there are 6 other Deaf people attending church, Kelly needs to be in a place where everyone can see, it is usually at least 8 to 10 feet from the first pew.

Riley would sit close to the consumer.  This sitting arrangement can be for close range signing, tactile signing, two hand fingerspelling, or voice over.  There is usually one Deaf-Blind person in church.

Kelly would be interpreting everything: the songs, the prayers, the sermon, maybe the interactions between the the Deaf, the laity, and the clergy, through not always.

Riley would relay the same information to the Deaf-Blind person.  Plus Riley would add other visual information.  Some examples of added visual information may include: who is giving the sermon, who is playing the piano, who is lighting the advent candle, or the what the minister is holding up, something that is relevant to the sermon.

Kelly would use all sorts of space, movement, shoulder switching, facial grammar, and body language.  In short, Kelly would be signing “big” and “expressive”, even the non-signers could be enthralled watching Kelly!

Riley would still sign as beautifully, but on a “smaller screen,” so to speak.  Riley would sign, for example close range, in front of chest.  Riley would limit movement, space and shoulder switching.  Riley would add facial expressions to the signs themselves. Why? If the Deaf-Blind person is watching Riley’s hands or is tactile, which is hand over hand signing, the facial expressions are often lost.

Kelly would, through not always, leave immediately after the closing remarks. Remember, Kelly is a professional, and would leave after the job is done.

Riley would support the Deaf-Blind consumer in chatting with ministers and non-signing friends.  Riley would leave when the consumer says “Thank you, see you next week.”

If the Deaf-Blind person uses voice over, Riley would speak clearly to the consumer, probably right to his or her ear.

If the consumer uses two hand manual, Riley would quickly, and I do mean quickly, spell out the interactions of the sermon.  This might take forever, it would seem, because Riley must spell full w-o-r-d-s, n-a-m-e-s and e-x-p-r-e-s-s-i-o-n-s.  Yet, most Deaf-Blind who use this method have short cuts, abbreviations and truncations that speed up the flow incredibly.  (I am so unskilled at two hand manual, it is embarrassing!  Plus, with my ataxia, hitting the right right letter is getting harder!)

Can an Interpreter do Intervenor work?  Yes, they can modify their signing space, they can easily sign tactile.  It might take a few tries to include facial expressions into the conversation.  And surely the can add visual information.  Can an Intervenor do an Interpreter’s job?  Th erotically, yes they can, and do.  Yet, sadly, many interpreter associations enforce strict rules that mandate only graduates of interpreting programs can accept interpreting assignments.

So, which is easier?  Who’s job is harder? Kelly the Interpreter or Riley the Intervenor? They both must listen to the material, mentally translate the info into signs, then sign it. Kelly is afforded the space flexibility, Riley must be stationary and inflexible.

What do you think?

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