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Blog Articles by: Brenda Cartwright

Interpreter Q & A: Are Piercings Ok for Interpreters?

Interpreter Q & A: Are Piercings Ok for Interpreters?

Interpreter Tips   |  Wednesday, August 13, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

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?

Sincerely,
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 the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

5 Tips for Job Hunting as an Interpreter

5 Tips for Job Hunting as an Interpreter

Interpreter Tips   |  Tuesday, July 22, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

Today applications for new jobs are increasingly offered exclusively via websites. With social media and our entire lives online most employers know quite a bit about you, including your reputation and writing skills, before they ever meet you face to face.  References have also become more important as references are sometimes the first people that interviewers speak to. 

Are you representing yourself well? How do you decide who to ask for a reference?

Here are 5 tips for laying the foundation for your job hunting and finding a good recommender:

1. Connect with Others

  • First impressions matter. Put your best foot forward.
  • Be personable and establish bonds with colleagues.

2. Represent Yourself Well Online

  • Who you are online reflects how people see you in person.
  • Don’t put anything on FB you aren’t proud of.
  • Go through your Facebook and delete anything (pictures and words) that gives you pause.

3. Send Professional Messages

  • Keep emails professional and purposeful.
  • Put thought into each email you send.
  • Re-read your emails before hitting “send.”

4. Choose a Good Recommender

  • Be realistic in assessing your relationships.
  • Choose people you respect and who respect you.
  • Be sure the person you ask has a good reputation themselves.

5. Communicate with your Recommender

  • Contact your references before you put them down.
  • Be positive, respectful and grateful to the person writing you a letter of recommendation. 

Do you have other pointers? 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 the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

Interpreter Q & A: How to Handle Rude Clients

Interpreter Q & A: How to Handle Rude Clients

Interpreter Tips   |  Monday, July 7, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

Dear BC,

In the post-secondary setting where I interpret, one particular Deaf student frankly doesn’t have much in the way of social skills. She is just plain mean to everyone and it’s uncomfortable and embarrassing to be around her. She’s either rude or inappropriate or both. Her hearing classmates, upon meeting their first real live Deaf person, try to be friendly, but, more often than not, walk away completely turned off. Please don’t tell me to just not take assignments where she is the client; as a staff interpreter, we don’t always have that choice. She knows she’s a "challenge." I suspect she gets off on it!

Signed,
Wit's End

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

Maybe your experience relates to cultural differences and the fact that some things hearing people might label rude, Deaf people might attribute to the fact that they are "Deaf blunt." As interpreters we do not regulate anyone’s behavior, and it can be difficult with students, both Deaf and hearing. Offering Deaf awareness activities on campus might be one way to develop understanding between hearing and Deaf students and give them a different arena to socialize. Also, all students (Deaf and hearing) need to learn the ropes of interacting in a university setting, and I think we as interpreters need to take a hands off approach on this one.

Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

It is hard to determine whether the student in this situation is in fact having a "true" social skill problem or if there is some misunderstanding about what is "culturally" acceptable. Sometimes as a Deaf person, it is hard to "park your culture at the door" and behave in ways that are considered acceptable to our hearing peers. For example, it has been my experience that it is not socially acceptable to interrupt people without letting them finish, but it’s not always clear to me when I can and can’t by watching the interpreter. Appropriate registers are not always there for me to be cued correctly and after years of "jumping in" and cutting people off, I thought this was the way to get your point across or make yourself heard. Of course, later I learned to trust the interpreter or professor that I would have a chance to participate. Without knowing more specifics, I assume the "rudeness" or "inappropriateness" is more of a lack of subtleness between the two cultures. For example, hearing people equate being blunt with being rude, whereas Deaf people consider it being honest or direct. Without more specific information, I would not be so quick to say it’s the student’s problem, but to look at the situation as a whole and to determine what exactly is causing this perception.

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 the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

Interpreter Q & A: Is It Better to Be Late or Wet?

Interpreter Q & A: Is It Better to Be Late or Wet?

Interpreter Tips   |  Monday, June 9, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

Dear BC,

Which is better in your opinion — to be a few minutes late for an interpreting job when it is pouring rain or to show up on time, but soaking wet?

Thanks,
Hoping Not To Be Late & Wet

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

If you arrive late (but dry) the consumers may be inconvenienced, annoyed, frustrated, anxious, etc. However, an appropriate business-like explanation/apology should soon set this matter aside and allow everyone to concentrate on the business at hand.

I suspect the consequences will be more serious if you arrive drenched, but on time. Although you are “on time” by the clock, you may not be ready to do the job. At least from my experience, it is difficult to concentrate on the interpreting task while dressed in uncomfortable, wet, clingy clothing and sodden shoes. Those are not conditions conducive to producing your best work. Secondly, imagine the effect on consumers as they try to concentrate on the business at hand and their communication goals, while trying to ignore the squishing sounds as you move around, the fine mist spraying off your fingertips, and the ever widening puddle on the floor beneath you (and these distractions will continue for the duration of the assignment!).

After the assignment is the appropriate time to consider what reasonable alternatives might have prevented your dilemma. You might want to stop by a store on the way home and purchase appropriate rain gear and an umbrella to keep in your car and/or interpreter’s tote.

Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

Interpreters must make judicious safety-related decisions.

If the interpreter is on a college campus, he or she can wait for a few minutes until the pouring rain has subsided, even though they should have an umbrella. As soon as you get to the classroom you can privately tell the Deaf student(s) succinctly the reason for being late.

If it is to interpret for a doctor’s appointment or a lawyer meeting, it would be best for the interpreter to call and let the parties know that you will be a little late due to the heavy downpour.

In other words, it is wise to be late for an appointment as long as the parties involved (both hearing and Deaf) know that you are on the way. Coming into the appointment soaking wet may not only reflect badly on the interpreter, but it may also reflect badly on the Deaf consumer. Again, the interpreter’s safety is the key to making sure that the communication process will work, no matter how late the interpreter arrives to the appointment.

Have you experienced this problem too? How did you handle it or prevent it from happening again? 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 the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

Interpreter Q & A: Interpreter Credentials

Interpreter Q & A: Interpreter Credentials

Interpreter Tips   |  Tuesday, April 29, 2014

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

Dear BC,

It just so happens that I’ve been collecting interpreter business cards for a long time now and I’m convinced that anyone and everyone these days can call themselves an "interpreter" without any credentials to back up their claim. Truth be told, our consumers aren’t always familiar with all our acronyms and the terminology we use for certification levels, so they can be easily misled. Here are some examples of titles I have in my collection from non-certified "interpreters" out there:

  • "ASL Interpreter"
  • "State Certified Interpreter"
  • "ITP Graduate"
  • "Freelance Interpreter"
  • "Interpreter for the Hearing Impaired" and my favorite… "Hearing Impaired Interpreter"… this was a hearing person!

Sincerely,
Concerned Interpreter

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

"Consumer Beware!" That’s really what they should print on their business cards, although I doubt we will ever see it. One of the reasons I’m a strong proponent of licensing is the need to establish standards and ensure that only qualified people are practicing in the interpreting profession. Many hearing consumers and even some Deaf consumers don’t know what it takes to become qualified. As more states get on the bandwagon with licensure I believe this problem will start to disappear. In the meantime, we need to continue to educate consumers so they can make an informed choice when it comes to interpreting services.

Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

First of all, I would ask the interpreter if he or she has certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). If so, what kind of certification, and when? If he or she has no certification then I would ask where they got their training from and who their teachers were. If this person did not attend an interpreter training program, then I would discuss the importance of getting formal training, certification and state laws out there requiring it. If this person was assigned to me from an agency, I would inform his or her supervisor about my concerns and suggest they not utilize this person in the future.

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 the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Brenda  |  Articles by Brenda

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