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Blog Articles in Category: Interpreter Tips

Interpreter Q & A: Will Technology and Cochlear Implants Make Interpreters Become Obsolete

Interpreter Q & A: Will Technology and Cochlear Implants Make Interpreters Become Obsolete

Interpreter Tips   |  Sunday, February 3, 2019

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,

I am currently in an interpreter training program, but I’m starting to have doubts about the viability of my choice of careers. My concern is twofold. I’ve heard several experts say that interpreters will one day be replaced by technology! I also am aware that cochlear implants are a big deal for parents with young deaf children, so I’m wondering if maybe interpreters will become obsolete. What do you think?

Sincerely,
Having Second Thoughts

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

I too have concerns about all the technological advances we see continuing to creep into our lives. It seems like I’m always reading or hearing about new gizmos and inventions that sound pretty unbelievable and the unknown can seem scary and daunting. In fact, I just read an article about children and adults who received cochlear implants and interpreters are still very much in demand to augment what they still can’t hear or when they are in group settings.

Admittedly, technology usually intimidates me, but technology is only as good as those who are trained to use it. While these advances may invariably lighten our burdens, my sense is that Deaf people are still going to want a real live person rendering the message to them. The subtleties of facial expressions, non-manual markers and the brain’s ability to sift through the morass of our language to come up with the kernel, the concept, the essence of what a speaker is saying just can’t be done by a computer.

I may sound naïve here because I know that technological improvements and discoveries are going to happen despite any protests or fear. I’d like to think, though, that these new innovations will ultimately be positive in ameliorating situations for deaf and hard of hearing people. We are human, after all, and communication replicated artificially is prone to misunderstandings. It cannot compare to the connection or the very human bond that is possible in person with a real live person. Perhaps we need to reframe our apprehensions and instead look at technology as something that will hopefully make our jobs easier, better, more efficient and complement our craft.

Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

After reading your letter, I understand how you might be concerned about the viability of your future career choice. However, speaking as a Certified Deaf Interpreter, I feel more than ever that we (the Deaf community) will need ASL interpreters in schools, jobs, and theaters, various performances, judicial settings, medical visits, etc. for many more years to come. As to your concerns about the prominence of technology eradicating the need for interpreters, you need to realize that not all Deaf children will benefit from these advances. For example, children with profound or severe hearing losses will receive little to no advantage if they undergo cochlear implant surgery. Years ago, I considered getting a cochlear implant but my doctor advised against it because of the severe nerve damage to my ear. I strongly believe that ASL interpreters will be needed for many more Deaf generations to come. I cannot and will not depend on technology to “cure” my deafness – that is impossible. Deafness is caused by a variety of factors, so finding a cure-all using technology is highly improbably. While it is true that the future is not “set in stone,” I cannot imagine a world where ASL interpreters or the profession of interpreting will become obsolete.

What's your perspective? 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

Interpreter Q & A: Is it ok to eat at a work event once my assignment ends?

Interpreter Tips   |  Friday, November 16, 2018

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.

This article is part of our "Dear BC, Interpreter Q & A” series, which answers questions on interpreting and Deaf culture from multiple perspectives. This article was also published in the Summer 2018 (Issue 35 Volume 3) Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID. VIEWS is a digital publication distributed quarterly by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and dedicated to the interpreting profession. The magazine includes RID member spotlights, announcements from the RID board, and engaging stories about issues impacting the interpreting community. See this article (on page 26) and more in the Summer 2018 Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID.

Dear BC,

I was asked to interpret for an art department showcase. Food was served during the presentations. After it was over there was an announcement that there was tons of food left and for everyone to "eat up!" My client encouraged me to get some food. My interpreting duties were finished, but I still felt strange about it. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate?

Sincerely,
Hungry Observer

The video features a full interpretation of what is discussed in this article.

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

As long as the assignment is truly over I think the interpreter can partake of the food.

An Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

I think the interpreter should politely decline offers of food. You are not a member of the organization hosting the event.

What's your perspective? 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

Interpreter Q & A: Should interpreters share stories about their day (and their clients)?

Interpreter Q & A: Should interpreters share stories about their day (and their clients)?

Interpreter Tips   |  Friday, June 8, 2018

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.

This article is part of our "Dear BC, Interpreter Q & A” series, which answers questions on interpreting and Deaf culture from multiple perspectives. This article was also published in the Spring 2018 (Issue 35 Volume 2) Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID. VIEWS is a digital publication distributed quarterly by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and dedicated to the interpreting profession. The magazine includes RID member spotlights, announcements from the RID board, and engaging stories about issues impacting the interpreting community. See this article (on page 14) and more in the Spring 2018 Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID.

Dear BC,

My neighbor is an interpreter and she was telling me about all the gory things she has to face on a daily basis as an interpreter: feces, fungus, blood, naked bodies, nasty smells, foul language etc... No names of clients were disclosed but I couldn’t help but wonder how Deaf people would feel if they knew that she was talking and laughing about them. I remember when I was in the hospital, I was so sick I puked. I’m sure my poop stunk. I’m sure I looked like crap. I hope my nurses didn’t talk about me. I think the same should apply to interpreters. What is your opinion about this?

Sincerely,
Uneasy Neighbor

The video features a full interpretation of what is discussed in this article.

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

It certainly sounds like this interpreter enjoys telling these stories because of their sensationalism and for her own "visceral kicks." If I heard an interpreter telling stories about Deaf clients in their most vulnerable moments, I would ask her straight out "Where’s your compassion?! Where’s your discretion?!" Interpreting is a job. We are there to work, not to collect stories to impress our friends.

An Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

This interpreter showed a complete lack of respect for her clients. We are vulnerable and dependent on interpreters during some of the most scary and embarrassing moments of our lives. What was this interpreter’s intention? Yes, there are indeed unsavory and upsetting aspects of the job. But, telling stories and laughing about us is oppressive.

What's your perspective? 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

Interpreter Q & A: What to do when your team interpreter has an unexcused (and provocative) absence?

Interpreter Tips   |  Monday, April 23, 2018

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.

This article is part of our "Dear BC, Interpreter Q & A” series, which answers questions on interpreting and Deaf culture from multiple perspectives. This article was also published in the Winter 2018 Edition of VIEWS Magazine (page 28-29) from RID. VIEWS is a digital publication distributed quarterly by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and dedicated to the interpreting profession. The magazine includes RID member spotlights, announcements from the RID board, and engaging stories about issues impacting the interpreting community. See this article and more in the Winter 2018 Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID.

Dear BC,

I was on a team interpreting assignment with someone that I have known for years - she is a good person and a really good interpreter. She had texted me to let me know she was running an hour late to the assignment because she had to drop off her mother at the airport. Finally she arrived. Then on a ten minute break, she told me she was going to have to leave early.

“Why?” I asked.

She proceeded to tell me the reason was that her husband wanted her to come home and “be with him.” I just sat there with my mouth open and looked at her. I didn’t know what to say or do. Finally, I said, “You can do whatever you want, but the last time I checked we were both being paid to do this job.”

I wanted to call the agency (which is quite reputable) and let our supervisor know what happened, but she and the supervisor are pretty tight. Any thoughts on how I could have handled this better or what to do next?

Sincerely,
Baffled Teammate

The video features a full interpretation of what is discussed in this article.

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

This scenario is a perfect example of how interpreters sometimes have to engage in uncomfortable conversations with their team in order to incorporate the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct tenets into our practice. I don’t envy the interpreter in this situation. Their initial response is unfortunate but it’s also a very human reaction to such a frustrating scenario. 

It’s tempting to avoid the conversation altogether by contacting the agency directly or emailing the team afterward, but I think it is best to request an in-person meeting with the team. I would start by apologizing for the initial response and explain that you were thrown off by her behavior as you have only known her to be a strong and ethical interpreting team. Strive to emphasize your respect for her but also be transparent about your frustration that she put you in such an uncomfortable situation.

As these behaviors seem to be out of character for her, I would hope that together you could discuss what makes sense in terms of communicating with the agency. Hopefully she would be open to informing them that she only worked a small portion of the assignment. If she is not open to this, you could tell her that you have to inform the agency of her revised hours. The goal of an in-person conversation would be to resolve the issue between you and have the team communicate with the agency herself.

An Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

First and foremost, I am impressed with interpreter A’s ability to stay professional during this exchange. I’m afraid I might have lost it and burst out laughing, “You’ve got to be kidding - no way!” 

The first issue, driving her mother to the airport, is difficult to judge – was this an emergency situation? Could she have found someone else to drive her mother, or substitute for the interpreting assignment? Did she notify her supervisor, thus allowing the supervisor an opportunity to find someone to cover for her? Did the supervisor “excuse” her from being late to the assignment? If interpreter B did not notify her supervisor, as is implied in this encounter, she placed an undue burden on her team interpreter (and friend). 

The second issue indicates a severe lack of judgment, responsibility, and ethics on the part of interpreter B. Interpreter A was correct in pointing out that they were both being paid for the job. The only thing interpreter A could have done differently is emphasize her displeasure more strongly and tell interpreter B it is not acceptable to leave the assignment. 

Interpreter A has an ethical responsibility to let the supervisor know of this situation, regardless of friendship ties. If the supervisor is acting ethically, they will call in interpreter B to discuss the matter. Interpreter B may have committed fraud if she submitted a time sheet for the entire assignment and was paid in full. No matter their friendship, the supervisor needs to be aware of interpreter B’s irresponsibility and lack of respect for her team. Interpreter A should also notify interpreter B of her conversation with the supervisor and her reasons for doing so, whether it be in a face-to-face meeting or through email. If I were in that situation, I would tell interpreter B I am not comfortable working with her and request that the supervisor not assign us together in the future.

What's your perspective? 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

Interpreter Q & A: Why do ITP students date Deaf people while they are in the program?

Interpreter Tips   |  Sunday, December 3, 2017

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.

This article is part of our "Dear BC, Interpreter Q & A” series, which answers questions on interpreting and Deaf culture from multiple perspectives. This article was also published in the Fall 2017 Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID. VIEWS is a digital publication distributed quarterly by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and dedicated to the interpreting profession. The magazine includes RID member spotlights, announcements from the RID board, and engaging stories about issues impacting the interpreting community. See this article and more in the Fall 2017 Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID.

Dear BC,

A recent phenomenon I have noticed is a growing tendency for ITP students to date Deaf people while they are in the program. What is behind this?

Sincerely,
Curious Spectator

The video features a full interpretation of what is discussed in this article.

An ITP Student's Perspective:

I would say that when ITP students first get acquainted with the Deaf community, it feels like Deaf people are the coolest thing since sliced bread. In an ITP, you’re learning all these things about Deaf culture and the language. Then you meet some really awesome people from the community and it’s hard not to be star-struck. If you find out a Deaf person is interested in you, it is easy to get swept up in it all. I have even heard some students who are NERDAs (Not Even Related to a Deaf Adult) say that they are jealous of CODAs. I think what they mean is they wish they had that strong connection to the Deaf community. I can see why the Deaf community might question our motives, but as a group of young people, we are all just eager to network and navigate these new and exciting relationships.

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

This may be a natural consequence of getting involved in the community, but students need to make sure their choices will benefit them and their career in the long run. Involving themselves in the community in any way that is unethical will ultimately destroy the relationship. Taking advantage or trying to get ahead with those who an interpreter relies on for their livelihood will seriously jeopardize their ability to continue in the profession.

An Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

When two people from different cultures begin dating it is easy to overlook some of the power-sharing or cultural exchanges that occur. It is important to recognize that between two cultural groups, things are equally exchanged: ASL is exchanged for English, hearing culture is exchanged for Deaf culture, and so on. If the parties are trying to exchange different things, the dynamic may shift from healthy to oppressive. ASL is a wonderful, vibrant language and the Deaf community embodies an extremely diverse and rich culture. Those in cross-cultural relationships should take care that the languages and people involved are valued and treated with respect.

What's your perspective? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
 

View/Add Comments (2 comments)

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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