Interpreter Q & A: Are Piercings Ok for Interpreters?

Interpreter Q & A: Are Piercings Ok for Interpreters?

By Brenda Cartwright
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This article is written by Brenda Cartwright (BC). Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher and a well known author. BC also contributes numerous blog articles for Signing Savvy. Look for them on the “Articles” tab on our website.

This article is part of our "Dear BC, Interpreter Q & A” series, which answers questions on interpreting and Deaf culture from multiple perspectives. There isn’t always one “right” answer to every question, and different people have different opinions on how to handle different scenarios. That is why more than one perspective is provided in this series, however, more opinions always exist. These perspectives are gathered from talking with experienced interpreters and deaf consumers from across the United States and Canada and do not solely come from the author.

Dear BC,

Last week, while team interpreting in a post-secondary setting, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I noticed a shiny metal ball bouncing around on my partner’s tongue. I found it very distracting and fascinating at the same time. Every time she opened her mouth it was all I could see. I know our Deaf client noticed it too, because when she was called on in class she admitted she was not concentrating, and asked if the professor could please repeat the question. My question is – do I say something to my partner or wait for the Deaf client to say something to her?

Unsure Partner

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

Experienced interpreter teams often have pre- and post- feedback sessions, not only with each other, but often include their consumers. If the Deaf consumer does not address the issue, you should tell your partner that "you" found it distracting and minimally suggest she consider using a clear ball instead of a metal one.

Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

As Deaf consumers have become more experienced and more empowered to speak up for ourselves in interpreting situations, we feel more comfortable addressing our needs directly with the interpreter. However, if for whatever reason the Deaf student does not address this "visual noise" issue with your partner, you should.

Have you experienced this problem too? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For 35 years Brenda was the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

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