I loved this blog by Molly Wilson. It sparked a multi-part blog telling my own Deaf World story. When my kids are grown, I plan to get back into mentoring and training students and new interpreters. Molly's video is so right-on. So beautifully stated. (Honestly, my English doesn't do justice to her ASL. I might should have taken more time on it, but wanted to get this out there.) My next two blogs will tell my story of my journey into the Deaf World. To hear or read or even see in ASL a radio interview with Molly about this topic, visit this site.
Bypass by Molly Wilson (CODA)
(transcribed below for the ASL-impaired)
disclaimer: This is my, Sarah Brown's interpretation of "Bypass" done for the benefit of readers who do not know ASL. I was not asked to transcribe this nor has my transcription been approved by the signer.
I think it’s time the Deaf World and the Interpreting World come together to discuss how we approach this issue of training interpreters.
In the past, if you wanted to become an interpreter, but had not been born into the Deaf World, you would have to find a way IN to the Deaf World.
The Deaf World has many varieties of communities within. Understand that Deaf communities each have their own “gatekeepers” if you will. These gatekeepers could be CODAs or Deaf people who have an understanding of both the Deaf and hearing worlds. They decide who is accepted into their Deaf World. Honestly, if a hearing person is seen to have a deaf “heart” [someone who accepts Deaf people with the right attitude/spirit] they’re accepted in, regardless of their background.
Going through the Deaf World then takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process of sharing time, experiences and language with the people within. The Deaf people take time to teach and pour into this new hearing member. Then, years later, the Deaf people in the community see that the person is ready. The new member now understands Deaf culture. They understand the language of the community and all that entails. At that point, the Deaf community support him/her in their goal of becoming an interpreter.
As interpreting gained popularity, the Deaf World had to widen the gates and enlist more gatekeepers, but they were up to the challenge!
After the ADA passed in 1991, Deaf people had a legal right to have an interpreter! But there were not enough interpreters to fill the need. So, parts of the interpreting world, such as RID, interpreter training programs and various referral agencies got involved, encouraging more and more people to become interpreters.
The gates to the Deaf World were bursting! The gatekeepers were overwhelmed beyond what they could handle. Deaf people were also feeling taken advantage of. Students would come, take what they could from the Deaf World in order to learn what was needed, then run off into their jobs as interpreters, leaving the Deaf World and discontinuing their involvement and support.
That’s when the interpreting community decided to build NEW highway. The Deaf World was too small and too slow, so a new highway was built around Deaf World. This new highway completely bypassed Deaf World. Interpreters in training didn’t go through Deaf World any longer. Instead, they learned the basics of what they needed through universities, colleges, and workshops. They learned about the subtle intricacies of the language by taking a class rather than experiencing it from within the community.
Oh, they my come over to observe the Deaf World, much like driving off the highway at the scenic overlook, only observing from afar, never getting involved. And to the Deaf World, that felt oppressive.
When that “trained” interpreter graduates an academic program, then meets a Deaf World member, there is disconnect. The interpreter doesn’t understand the language nor the culture of the Deaf. Communication doesn’t feel natural.
What do we do about this problem? How do we put an end to the current approach and raise the bar, looking to the Deaf World for their successful techniques for training upcoming interpreters?
Take some time to think about this issue. Thank you!