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Blog Articles by: Brenda Cartwright

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 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.

This article is part of our "Dear BC, Interpreter Q & A” series, which answers questions on interpreting and Deaf culture from multiple perspectives.

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 BC  |  Articles by BC

Top 10 Pearls of Wisdom for Interpreters

Top 10 Pearls of Wisdom for Interpreters

Interpreter Tips   |  Thursday, March 29, 2012

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the 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.

Interpreting can be both rewarding and challenging. Here is my list of top ten pearls of wisdom for interpreters:

  1. Yuo msut haev gud Englesh and spellnig skells. (Enuff sed)
  2. Not everything can be learned in an Interpreter Training Program.
    There is so much that comes from the experiences you will receive out in the field. Reflect and respect what you learned in your Interpreter Training Program (ITP) but remember that (as in life) the lessons you will continue to learn will be very valuable in your career as an interpreter.
  3. If you’re 5 minutes early, you’re late.
    Running in at the last minute bonking your clients in the head with your purse as you pass by frantically, then having to excuse yourself to use the bathroom is not professional or reassuring that you are prepared. Nothing is worse than a late interpreter! Be aware of the situation and setting for which you are interpreting, and then show up early according to those details. It will pay off in spades in the end.
  4. Remember you pave the way for the next interpreter.
    We are all a team here. Let’s not ruin it or muddy the waters by talking ill of others who have proceeded or may follow.
  5. Doubt means don’t.
    Follow your gut, it’s not just processing the coffee you drank this morning.
  6. Remember why you started, because there are always 1000 reasons to quit.
    This career can be the most rewarding, yet the most frustrating thing you have ever done... and sometimes all in the same interpreting job!
  7. Don’t be a "smell money interpreter".
    This is to remind people hopefully why they got in this profession. You chose this profession for the money? Really? To be fluent in any language you have to practice, and in this field you can only do that by hanging out with native users. But you can't just say, "be my friend so I can learn this language" and then just dump them. Once you're in the community you're in for life.
  8. Nobody likes a know it all.
    This relates back to # 2, about taking in the new experiences, as well as LISTENING and REFLECTING before you speak. If you truly feel you have something pertinent to share, you can do so, but do it in a way that looks like you are trying to be helpful, not like you have every answer and you have been dropped down directly from God to save this situation.
  9. Know how to flatter. When to flatter.
    Remember, no one likes a brown noser. Flattery might seem nice but it soon turns into kissing up. Avoid it, especially if it is fake because it is quickly recognized.
  10. Black goes with everything. (And is very thinning!)
    For those of you that don’t know, interpreters are supposed to wear solid colors. The general rule for interpreting is that you are supposed to wear solid colors that contrast with one's skin tone. I still own a lot of black clothes but as long as it contrasts with my skin tone I can also pick from fun colors called: cinnamon, pumpkin, blueberry, concord grape, plum, amethyst, moss, shale. Happy shopping!
 

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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 BC  |  Articles by BC

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