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by George B. Joslin, October, 1962
Interpreters are human, believe it or not, much like the rest of us.
They come in both sexes and in various sizes,
but they are usually ladies, who are always most attractive.
Interpreters are found everywhere:
in the doctor's office
and at funerals.
They are usually around where there are deaf people,
often relating all sides of a three-way conversation.
Interpreters must have
the wisdom of Solomon
the disposition of a l a m b
the endurance of ste-e-e-el
and the grace of a kitten.
They interpret for a deaf mother whose son is being
questioned at Juvenile Hall, or honored at school.
Too often they must interpret for a deaf child whose
parents have made no effort to learn to communicate
with him in sign language.
An interpreter who does well "has such beautiful
motions." When he gets confused and flustered
he "disrupts the whole meeting."
At church he interprets the invocation . . .
the call to worship . . .
the congregational songs . . .
the announcements . . .
the anthem . . .
the sermon . . .
and the benediction.
Then that evening the pastor is away so the interpreter
is faced with a substitute who mumbles, st-st-stutters,
has an Irish brogue and who didn't have time to
prepare so he "j-u-s-t t-a-l-k-s."
Interpreters are asked questions:
"Do you read lips?"
"Can you read Braille."
"Why don't all deaf people use a hearing aid?"
And then, most people assume interpreters are making
some kind of manual short hand or semaphore with their
hands instead of using a distinct language with all the
nuances and difficulties faced by the expert
translators at the United Nations building.
Interpreters are at work in any kind of weather --
any time of day --
any season of the year --
listening to excuses why others couldn't come:
"the hour was too late" and
"its Christmas time."
An interpreter who stands up in the front of the
audience seeks attention. If he sits down to interpret
he doesn't put himself into his work. If he speaks out
during the meeting he is out of his professional role.
If he keeps silent he is not supportive. If he has been
interpreting for only a few years he lacks experience.
If he has been interpreting for many years he is in a rut
and old fashioned. If he uses a lot of facial expression
he distracts from the speaker. If he doesn't he is a
dead-pan puppet. If he doesn't train others to help him
he thinks no one is as good as he is. If he does train
others he is trying to pass himself off as an expert.
and to see deaf people become self sufficient.
They dislike: to be conspicuous, to be imposed upon and to face the
ignorance of those who know nothing about deafness, or see the
interpreter as just a "machine."
Interpreters are human --
usually very busy humans
occasionally very tired humans
seldom very unhappy humans.
By Jon Barr
1. Be willing to accept a deaf person as he is, using
2. Be sure that the Lord has called you into deaf work.
3. Maintain confidence that God will help you in your work with the deaf.
4. Work to improve signs and spelling at all times. Be teachable.
5. Be on time, regardless of who is not there. Be early.
6. Seek to integrate the deaf and hearing as much as possible.
7. Work to be able to read the signs of the deaf.
8. Know your Bible. You can only interpret what you understand.
9. Pray for God's mind, power and presence as an interpreter.
10. Compliment interpreters after the service, especially beginners.
11. Look at the faces of the deaf as you interpret.
12. Have a planned, organized class schedule to teach.
13. Make all assignments at least one week before the service.
14. Be aware and considerate of all the deaf before you.
15. Encourage the deaf to pray and become involved.
16. Always be conscious of the needs of the deaf, think deaf.
17. Teach and interpret simply and clearly so ALL can understand.
18. Use gestures, facial expressions and actions in your signs.
19. Quickly give hard spelling names and places a "sign name"
20. Allow time for follow up after teaching or interpreting.
21. Be seen easily by all, if you can't see them, they can't see you.
22. Be simple and clear in your signs-Speed is not the priority.
23. Be pleasant and smile often.
24. Show feelings and emotions of the message and speaker.
25. Be loyal to speaker at all times.
By Jon Barr
1. Be negative or critical - it will show on your face
and effect your signs.
2. Be a "one-man-woman show."
3. Waste valuable time.
4. Get involved in discussions or topics that gender strife.
5. Teach or interpret in a dull or deep method.
6. Teach or interpret above the level before you.
7. Use methods that requires both hands - turn your back on people.
8. Use anyone to interpret or teach who is not prepared or qualified.
9. Put the deaf down or treat them as kids.
10. Tease in a manner that could embarrass anyone in the class.
11. Criticize or be disloyal to the pastor or church.
12. Use new signs or methods that are not understood.
13. Be too busy for the deaf.
14. Teach or interpret directly to one who needs this.
15. Whisper to other workers during the interpreting or teaching.
16. Interpret or teach when you are willingly living in sin.
17. Let everyone else do the work.
18. Criticize other interpreters to the deaf or other workers.
19. Forget to study because you feel you know more than the deaf anyway.
20. Lose sight of the Lord or your burden for the deaf.
21. Use the words "deaf mute, deaf and dumb, deaffie."
22. Yell or shout - it will not help.
23. Turn your face away while talking.
24. Use baby talk, or talk down to them.
25. Allow others to interrupt or stop your conversation as you talk to them.
26. Pretend to understand - when you don't.
27. Correct their English or grammar as their language is different.
28. Make fun of their voices, or expressions.
29. Talk too fast - keep your conversation simple and easy to understand.
30. Ignore the deaf - they want to be part of the conversation.
1. Use an interpreter during the times of activities or
use the signs you know or spell the ones you do not know.
2. Become familiar with sign language by attending classes and ask the deaf person to teach you sign language.
3. Include them in activities and work together instead of separate.
4. Include them in all conversation no matter what we are talking about.
5. Make an effort to establish relationships with the deaf even if not involved or called to deaf ministry.
6. Go out of your comfort zone to become a part of their world.
7. Signing should continue when work is over and should be done at home as well as on the job.
8. Relationships are valuable. They are a must!
9. Be more open and sensitive to each others feelings.
10. Don't give up loving each other no matter how they react or behave towards you. LOVE TRANSFORMS ITS OBJECT.
11. Don't treat the Deaf as victims or being handicapped, but as a person in Christ.
1. Not seeing each other differently, such as: labeling a
person or culture.
2. Persons need to be willing to sign automatically.
3. While interpreting, be sure that the communicating is clear.
4. Deaf/Hearing need to make sure that both sides don't mis-communicate. Try to make other person know what's being said. BE SENSITIVE.
5. Signing is not only for special announcements.
6. On the Deaf side - not to take advantage of one skilled interpreter, but relate to others in an informal setting.
7. Do not to expect too much from a good interpreter.
8. Interpreters need to guard their hearts against pride or hurts.
1. Give the Deaf the tools to work with:
2. Encourage them to ask questions for themselves.
3. Teach them that they are responsible for their actions and are to be involved in ministry.
4. Fight, but with a right heart.
5. They are accountable to take their responsibilities; own up to responsibilities; they are not victims.
6. Define what a person's responsibilities from a Biblical basis, then from a social basis.
7. Teach them to deal with issues as they happen before they become nuclear.
8. Recognize a limitation as an opportunity.
9. Do not take advantage of skilled interpreters.
10. Do not expect one person to do it all.
11. Do not to over burden the hearing.
12. Try to become more independent (without having a spirit/attitude of independence).
By Carlene Camp
The interpreter is an important person in many areas of a deaf person's life.
The Christian interpreter serves those with a communication handicap to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to help them grow in the Lord and to share in their lives to help with personal problems, personal needs, and friendships. Remember for the Christian it is a ministry not an occupation. We are thankful for educators who give knowledge and communication because they have opened the door for us to minister to the spiritual needs of the deaf world.
These guidelines are set forth to challenge the interpreter to accept and keep high standards both to glorify God and to be an example to those served.
1. The Christian interpreter should be a person who is
saved and knows it. He/she should be a student of the Bible. (I John 5:13)
2. The Christian interpreter should be trustworthy and pledged to keep confidences.
3. The Christian interpreter should be loyal to the speaker. He/she should not give his/her opinion or add to the message. (II Timothy 3:16)
4. The Christian interpreter should interpret to the best of his/her ability conveying the thought, purpose, intent and emotion of the speaker (Colossians 3:23)
5. The Christian interpreter should dress modestly, being careful not to draw attention to himself/herself and keeping in mind that the deaf people listen with their eyes. (James 2:1-6)
6. The Christian interpreter should have a servant's heart and a willing spirit to help whenever possible. He/she should be careful to stay balanced and guard against becoming too personally and emotionally involved in the deaf person's personal life (Matthew 20:26)
7. The Christian interpreter should continually work at improving his/her Sign Language skills, learning more about the deaf community and making known to others about deaf culture to help dispel misunderstandings that often may arise.
8. The Christian interpreter should be surrendered as a servant in obeying the Great Commission of our Lord (Mark 16:15) and "GO" into the deaf world.
The Department of Justice received substantial comment regarding the lack of a definition of "qualified interpreter." The proposed rule defined auxiliary aids and services to include the statutory term, "qualified interpreters", but did not define that part. Section 36.303 requires the use of a qualified interpreter where necessary to achieve effective communication unless an undue burden or fundamental alteration would result. Commentators stated that a lack of guidance on what the term means could create confusion among those trying to secure interpreting services and often result in less than effective communication.
Many who commented were concerned that, without clear guidance on the issue of "qualified' interpreter, the rule would be interpreted to mean 'available.. rather than qualified" interpreters. Some claimed that few public accommodations would understand the difference between a qualified interpreter and a person who simply knows a few signs or how to fingerspell.
In order to clarify what is meant by "qualified interpreter" the Department has added a definition of the term to the final rule. A qualified interpreter means an interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary special vocabulary. This definition focuses on the actual ability of the interpreter in a particular interpreting context to facilitate effective communication between the public accommodation and the individual with disabilities.
Public comment also revealed that public accommodations have at times asked persons who are deaf to provide family members or friends to interpret. In certain circumstances, notwithstanding that the family member or friend is able to interpret or is a certified interpreter, the family member or friend may not be qualified to render the necessary interpretation because of factors such as emotional or personal involvement, considerations of confidentiality that adversely affect the ability to interpret "effectively, accurately, and impartially."
and it isn't communication."
Simultaneous Communication (Sim-Com) is often referred to as Total Communication. Many say that sim-com is the best way for communicating with the Deaf. It should be remembered, however, that ASL includes more than just the signs themselves. It also incorporates the facial expression, body language and gestures for tone, pitch, emphasis, punctuation and that gives it the full meaning as with any language. It must be remembered that ASL structure is different than that found in English. With that difference comes communication difficulties such as vagaries, misunderstanding, distrust and communication breakdown.
Another lack brought on by the use of sim-com in a mixed Hearing-Deaf environment (where all are signers) or a Deaf Event, such as the world Games for the Deaf, is a lack of equal access to information for the Deaf. While many issues are at stake here, this is not where I choose to deal with them, the subject is simultaneous communication.
Sim-com is the process of speaking English while signing. It is impossible to speak English and sign ASL. Further it has been noticed that when speaking and signing many beginning and intermediate signers are skipping over words or concepts that are important to convey the full intent of the speakers thoughts. Other advanced ASL signers revert back to English structure while only giving some ASL features. For the Deaf, this can be confusing since their first language is ASL, not English. The Deaf, also, may not have a good grasp of the English language structure.
We can not expect that the Deaf understand the English syntax. They may not express a lack of understanding at the moment, but when questioned about the material it can easily be seen that the comprehension level is less than that of those whose first language is English.
In the early 1980's Dr. Dennis Cokley and Dr. Dave Knight conducted research at Gallaudet. This research showed that students taught in sign-only classroom had a much higher comprehension of the material than in classrooms where simultaneous communication is used. A separate study found that only between 5% and 8% of the message is conveyed exactly word for word when using simultaneous communication.
Studies show quite clearly that speaking English while attempting to sign in ASL is not feasible. It's like attempting to use English words in Spanish word order. Research shows that Deaf students can only comprehend approximately 65% of a conversation when teachers use sign and voice simultaneously.
It is interesting that the best lipreaders only understand about 40% of the words without signing. So we see that Sim-Com or "total communication" gives about 65% and is not total at all. ASL does give the Deaf the communication they need. It is complete with all the fullness of expression and nuances needed to satisfy the hunger for communication.
Interpreters and educators need to make the swing to American Sign Language for Deaf students, both as a matter of cultural integrity and as a means of practical education. If we really want to communicate a clear understanding of the Gospel, it is essential that we gain fluency in ASL. As with any culture, if you really want to be able to relate to the people at a heart level, you must learn their language and their culture. To deny it's existence removes you from being the effective person God wants you to become. You may want to ask the question, "What would Jesus do?" Or better yet, "What did Jesus do?"
This article © copyright 1998, Ron Southwick, Deaf World Ministries. All rights reserved.
by a Deaf Pastor
(Note: Taken from a List-serve. It is here so you can listen to the heart and make any adjustments necessary.)
First of all, I agree that life is not black and white. Yet being deaf and
hearing is often is. Hearing can hear and understand sounds. We deafies can't. Imagine a
deaf mother trying to fit in a church full of hearing people who can't sign. Or a
hearing father without signs trying to talk to the deaf. There is no accessibility there.
The gaps between those who sign and do not sign are just as clear as black and
With that in mind, there is actually two churches, not one. One a group of hearing (a majority). Another a smaller minority, the deaf. There are very, very few bridges between both worlds in the church world. By default, the interpreter is often the sole bridge between both worlds. Interpreters for the deaf take advantage of it, while interpreters for the hearing just wants to be a signer.
Yesterday I went to an elders meeting of the hearing church, as I represent a group of 27 deaf adults and their children (about 20 CODAS) as well as 12 deaf children. There is no communication between me and the hearing church (other than smiles and hi's) with two exceptions: email and interpreting. There is a lot of communicating being jammed into a short period of time. (Sort of like a short visit to an inmate in prison)
Either you hear or don't. That's not just black and white. That is reality.
You have the luxury of choosing whether you want to focus on which aspect of ministry you want. You can walk and talk to almost anybody. We can't (not without writing or gesturing which makes many uncomfortable). You can choose between two worlds or both. We have no choice. We are stuck with what we have.
When I said,"Too often interpreters belong to the church (meaning the hearing)" I did not mean that your duty is to have access for the deaf over your calling as a mother to your children or whatever God wants you to be. You should feel free to serve wherever God wants you to do. . . rejoice !
We deaf need to be more sensitive with the interpreters' work load and other priorities (eg. husband & family). You'd be very surprised how full their schedule and commitments can be!
And at the same time we are not too sympathetic to those with actions showing
an attitude that says, "I'm done interpreting today. I do not have to socialize
nor love you. See you later . Bye, bye." Week after week. Month after month.
What I mean is that interpreters for the hearing tend to limit their contacts to the deaf during interpreting services, seek out other hearing for feedback (rather than from the deaf). They do not want to be bridge builders between both worlds, just be signers. They make sure the interests of the hearing are foremost in the church, and deaf needs are ignored. They do not tend to sign when deaf are around them.
I don't know if you know, but more and more deaf are losing interest in interpreting services because of this phenomenon.
Original Page date - February
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