A look at three types of interpreters

Good day readers:

Years ago I came upon an article, probably a fact sheet, that explains the differences between intervenor and interpreters. There was no date, author or publication info on the article, so it was probably a fact sheet disseminated widely. Because no author, I’ve taken liberty to change things, add details, poke fun, add comments, soapbox and expand… Enjoy!

1. Hearing Interpreter
2. Deaf Interpreter
3. Interpreter working with Deaf-Blind

ALL THREE INTERPRETERS should be able to…:
√ … prove they went to an interpreter training program,
√ … work in many different places and situations: schools, college courses, employment training, parole hearings, TV news, family gatherings, meetings, legal debriefings, interviews, polygamous wedding receptions, births, bank robbings, church, etc etc etc.
√ … interpret everything that is spoken or signed in the environment they work in,
√ … demonstrate a high mastery of English and ASL, and Deaf culture. Similarly, their understanding of Deaf and hearing cultures is higher than the barista at your corner Starbucks. Thru, the interpreter is not the Expert of ASL, the Deaf person is.
√ … adapt to the Deaf or DeafBlind person they work with, using their signs or preferences,
√ … any interpreter worth their salt will keep things confidential, they won’t rat out or name drop clients, nor will they gossip about salt.
√ … an interpreter is not there to provide advice or counsel: Me: Which should I buy, Trojans or Durex? Interpreter: I like Trojans, they fit… WTF am I doing here? Haha, that was a bit extreme, but you got the picture right?
√ … nn interpreter is not a teacher, so they won’t teach new skills, they would facilitate communication between the Master Class chef and the student, if the student errs, they, the interpreter, should not help, nor will they alert the chef, the smoke is enough,
√ … an interpreter must follow an Interpreter Code of Ethics of some sort, or risk having their hands cut off…
√ Finally, and most importantly, an interpreter will not speak for themselves; they facilitate communication between a Deaf person and a hearing person, they do not involve themselves in the dialogue.

Deaf Interpreters and Interpreters for DeafBlind have a few other tasks or responsibilities:
√ … will relay in higher level of ASL than regular interpreters,
√ … will relay slower, while the debate rages on,
√ … thus, their memory is better,
√ … if asked, they will summarize the dialogue, while still keeping message exact, cutting out redundancies,
√ … will also work with Deaf people from different countries, who are not skilled with ASL, an example would be: Ukrainian Deaf who do not understand ASL, the DI would provide a bridge between the English Doctor, the ASL interpreter, the Ukrainian Deaf family.
INTERPRETER for DeafBlind,
√ … will, if asked, guide the DeafBlind consumer within the confines of the immediate room,
√ … should include basic visual information such as; who is speaking, where that person is standing, how many other people in the room,
√ … they might offer to explain visual information pertinent to the discussion, powerpoint documents,
√ … they should provide Room Logistics: which is how the room is set up, this should be done for any person who are DeafBlind, regardless of their visual acuity, I’ve created a fun example for your reading pleasure:

Imagine me, with poor hyperopia, nystagmus, optic atrophy, Deaf, standing to appeal to a BC Supreme Court Justice; pleading for leniency due to insufficient instructional explanations on the proper care and usage of a Husqvarna 535i XP chainsaw following an act of wonton carelessness in severing my wife’s right hand. As I stand, tearfully, heart-wretchingly, to plead my case, yet the interpreter did not explain where the Judge sits, instead I am addressing the bailiff standing in the far corner! The Judge would be offended!
Oh that was fun, and totally fictional!
√ … an interpreter working with DeafBlind should always take a few seconds to explain the room logistics, who is there, who is where, where is who and where the fire exit is.
√ Another piece of visual information that is often overlooked by both interpreters for DeafBlind and Intervenors is name tags! Most DeafBlind are unable to see the face, let alone their name tag, of the person making their triple shot americano.

I’d like to take a second to explain what I request interpreters to do when they work with me:
– sign slower than normal,
– sign space stays within chest area,
– no excessive moving,
Interpreters working with usual Deaf population will sign fast, signing space is often wide, using lots of space, and they will turn their bodies to indicate others are speaking. I can’t follow those conversations.

Finally I am now on the topic of the INTERVENOR! Here are some things to consider:
– They will work in many of the same environments as those listed above,
· They should be able to hear and see, or Deaf with good vision,
· They will provide Guiding assistance within an environment,
– They will bring the DeafBlind person to the meeting, if required, by car or bus,
– They will provide both visual and auditory information at the environment, for example: they will tell the DeafBlind person what items are in the tubs behind the Subway counter, explaining the menu, then, once the decision has been made, relay to the Sandwich Artist what the DeafBlind person requested,
· They can provide orientation and room logistics,
– Should be able to communicate in different methods, such as tactile ASL, ProTactile, Close Range, fingerspelling, print on palms etc… it really depends on the DeafBlind person, I know a few DeafBlind who never were able to learn ASL, so they use ways to communicate that are beyond the scope of this blog, look for future blogs on that topic!
– another important skill that an intervenor must have: they must allow the Deaf-Blind person to make their own decisions, which is kinda weird, but it does happen, I’ll comment on this in a future blog,
– The intervenor Does With, Not For. What does that mean? Briefly, an intervenor would explain the titles of videos at the library, visual information, upon reaching the James Bond movies, would indicate with one is Skyfall, and which one is Octopussy, but will not take out Skyfall and give it to the DeafBlind 007 Fan.
A similar example that I instruct my intervenors that is specific to me is: if I drop something, I put it up, not the intervenor, this is to prevent headbanging. The intervenor can use ProTactile to draw on my back where the Hot Wheel that I dropped is now hiding, but actually picking it up is not their job.
– the intervenors main job is to provide visual and auditory information, things I can’t see and can’t hear, they are my “eyes” and “ears”.

There are more, plenty more, details that I am missing, but my keyboard is acting wonky, and so I will publish this article while I still can type.

Remember, these are my explanations, by no means are you going to find them detailed in a syllabus somewhere, they are my experiences, and those I’ve seen. That is my disclaimer!

Thank you for reading, liking, sharing!

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