Monday, April 29, 2013


I have been interpreting for the deaf since my senior year of and on.  I am not certified (I haven't tried), but I believe I do a great job, and more importantly, that thought is validated by those deaf individuals that I interpret for.  That being said, I know my limitations.  There is no way I'd go into a business meeting, a courtroom, a medical office, or a lawyers office, and think myself qualified to interpret.  I have had a few deaf friends over the years, as well as people I've interpreted for at church, and its' almost startling how often I have been asked to interpret (usually church meetings although I've had three or four actual interpreting jobs over the years, interpreting mostly in the school setting (preschool through college)).  Our religion has some pretty specific language that is unique to our church culture, and I feel more than adept at conveying the meaning accurately.

Lately I've been asked to interpret at a few church events, which were multiple hours long.  After somewhat of a hiatus, I felt I needed to freshen up on my skills.  I spent the next few weeks studying vocab and watching signing videos and asking some of my deaf friends to help me with some questions I had.   I try to sign as ASL (American Sign Language) as possible, and do my best in every situation that I'm called upon to interpret.  I consider it a spiritual gift, and am often astounded at what my hands are doing in front of me, and I feel rewarded when I watch the faces of those I'm interpreting for, seeing their clear understanding, and sometimes, I get those "ah-ha" moments from them.  It is then that I feel so happy that what I'm doing is beneficial.  

I love interpreting, but with that, I still feel inadequate every single time I do it.  Why?  Because I'm not certified. Because I could do with more immersion into the deaf world.  Because I can always be better.  Because I wish I could sign more, but don't always have as  many opportunities as I want.

So when I feel that sense of inadequacy, even with my years  of experience, I wonder why some people think that they can "interpret" with such limited vocabulary, knowledge, and capabilities.  This weekend I encountered some of this, as I watched two other people do a damaging job of interpreting a church meeting.  Along with the confusion that: people who have lost some hearing but don't know any sign language do not need or want a sign language interpreter and thus my skills were useless...I've been completely frustrated.

There is no answer here that I'm seeking for. I'm just venting some frustrations.


Jude said...

Have more confidence in yourself. Can you take the certificate? Jude.x

Sue5007 said...

I think part of the reason why you feel that way is because you are humble...about what you know and don't know, that you are human and could make a mistake translating, especially in church. " long as it is translated correctly." Must have a special meaning to you. :)

Shannon said...

I feel the exact same way when I translate in Spanish. I know I have many limitations and worry about my ability to do a thorough, accurate job. It's great you have others to help you with interpretation and that you can ask questions of. I don't even have that anymore, now that I'm out of college. Keep up the good work! I think you should get your certification, if only to help you feel and know that you DO translate well. Keep us posted!