What’s the real difference between CDIs (Certified Deaf Interpreters) and ‘regular’ hearing interpreters? It’s not only language and internalized culture….Something else that could be described simply and taught to interpreters to help them realize one thing to do differently.
This transcript is offered instead of captions for a 14 minute videotaped conversation in American Sign Language with Deaf elders Winchell and Ruth Moore.
This is an important workshop from the VERA Institute of Justice; I learned a lot and began the process of toughening up my own trauma responses. I know my trauma reactions can be elicited in the presence of violence and accidental severe injury. Taking this workshop is a conscious effort in the direction of being able to cope well and remain whole when presented with awful suffering. The extent and scope of domestic violence is appalling: not only that it still occurs but also that physical and sexual abuse of women (in particular) continues to be sanctioned by horrible sexism and (predominately male) needs for power and control.
Fox News, Boston affiliate channel 25, and Doug VB Goudie should be sued for hate speech. Seriously. Denying Deaf people the right to information in a language they can understand is violence. Ridicule of their language is an act of violence on a continumm that begins with disregard and ends with people dying because they are excluded from public communication.
The Deaf community in Massachusetts has been lobbying for live simultaneous interpretation of emergency press conferences for decades. Finally, Governor Patrick and his staff figure out the logistics of providing quality professional interpretation and VB makes a mockery of it? First, you’d think VB just discovered he has eyes. Welcome to the world of visual noise! Second, what’s wrong with multitasking? You can’t watch and listen to two different things at the same time? Come on, VB, join the modern world. Third, if he has the hots for Deval, he should take it elsewhere. No, VB, “Deval Deval Deval” is not where people’s attention should be during a PUBLIC EMERGENCY ANNOUNCEMENT. People’s attention should be on the information, not the messenger.
Which is why it is so insulting that you would even consider asking the ASL interpreter to “tone it down.” You, a non-deaf (“hearing”) person with access to who knows how many communication channels? You can find the information again easily and with no language barrier. Deaf people get one chance to see the information in their own language. And you want to begrudge them the opportunity because you can’t concentrate? Get a grip, man.
Not only does the provision of live simultaneous interpretation during crises give access to the Deaf community to information that you take for granted, it could become a signal to the hearing world that something important is going on and maybe everyone should pay attention too! Precisely because it isn’t every day that an interpreter shows up on the television screen is a fantastic way to let everyone know there’s a situation where personal safety is at risk.
WOMAN: Alright, Welcome back 6:25 this morning. It’s time to “Let it Rip” on Fox 25 morning news, VB joining us in studio here. A treat, 2 days in a row we’ve had him here. And we have Bonnie here as well as we Let It Rip on the press conference. Meant to be a serious thing here, we’re talking about a serious blizzard heading our way. But if you watched this thing yesterday, I…I don’t know how you couldn’t be distracted by everything (laughing) that was going on in the background of this. You had Andrea Cabral in the background who was obviously very warm. And is fanning herself, which by the way, was a very nice fan. Looks like she must bring this with her everywhere
Woman: very fashionable fan…then you have this (laughs) sign language person, who is very, very animated and VB I think you said it best before, “she’s at like an 11 and maybe she needs to bring it down to like a 6”.
VB: Look, at one point during this thing, my wife and I were like not listening at all to the governor and we were trying to caption HER. Because this, this stuff is so over the top and so exaggerated. Maybe it is, I don’t even know, but from my viewpoint it was. I was just fascinated on her the whole time, and I don’t know what I was supposed to do because I wasn’t listening to the Governor.
Bonnie: You know what? This came up with Hurricane Sandy too because the interpreter who was at Mayor Blumberg’s press conference was also very, very animated. It actually prompted a lot of articles. There was actually one in ‘The Atlantic’ answering the question “why are these interpreters so animated?”
Woman: They did a whole SNL skit on it, remember? (laughing)
VB: (laughing) what is that whole motion there? (laughing) Look at that!?
Bonnie: Yeah, you know but other than the hand motions, their facial expressions actually modify what is going on. So, if there’s going to be snow, then they can say ‘there’s going to be a lot of snow’. Or its ‘really bad snow’ or ‘you need to hurry’. So, I think that the dramatic interpretation doesn’t bother me at all. I mean, you listen. These people, have…have the pressure of having to translate, on the spot and make sure they capture it dramatically so that people can understand. So if you find it distracting, I don’t know, just focus on the governor. Listen, walk away. you can hear, so VB walk away from the TV and just listen
Gene: (talking over Bonnie) I’ve seen others that have done it and haven’t been that distracting,
Woman: yeah…I have too.
Gene: So I don’t buy that, I don’t buy that at all. I mean, listen, I know she has important information to put out there. And to people who have issues and need that service that’s being provided, but I think it could be done so in a way…that’s all you’re talking about this morning, you know? The Governor is passing along some important information…and you’re trying to listen…and you know, there’s so many other things going on how could you NOT be distracted by it all?
Woman: We’ve obviously seen it at other press conferences..
Gene: (talking over) It’s all everyone is talking about, twitter has all these comments about it
Woman: hashtags for people who are all of a sudden stealing the show, and no one was tweeting any of the information that was coming out of the press conference.
VB: I guarantee you when Richard Davey walked off that stage, whoever greeted him, the first thing Davey says “ Was it me, or was that really distracting?” (woman laughing) Andrea Cabral is fanning him as much as she’s fanning herself. (woman lauging) And second of all, you can see Davey periodically looking out the corner of his eye like “wow! I didn’t see that one coming” and if HE’s distracted? We’re going to be distracted! Let’s say this was 9/11…YOU CAN’T HAVE THIS! There are times, when …
Woman: right, right
VB: its gotta absolutely be focused on the speaker and that was the LAST thing I was focused on here.
Woman: yeah, that’s true.
Woman: Alright, well MYFOXBOSTON.COM or our facebook page if you’d like to weigh in on this we’d love to hear from you…
The present state of general knowledge about simultaneous interpretation is slim, and specialist knowledges are dense and possibly counterproductive to best practice. I chose action learning as my research methodology… Finally (after many years), I can ask (what I think is the best) question in various forms, fitting the question to the particular perspective of the audience or receiver(s) in the given context. Recently, I am living the question with several different groups. The simultaneity of the conversations give me hope that we are, already, somehow living ourselves into the best answer.
I am writing my dissertation.
One chapter involves making the case for the research method of action learning. I announced this methodology in a blog-entry about my prospectus defense. The kind of knowledge that I am interested in is applied – I want to generate and circulate knowledge that can be used by everyone. The present state of general knowledge about simultaneous interpretation is slim, and specialist knowledges are dense and possibly counterproductive to best practice.
Young people aren’t being taught
the right words to even ask
the right questions.
I chose action learning as my research methodology because I did not have all of the right words, and the batches of the words I did have would not just fall into making a single best question. Finally (after many years), I can ask (what I think is the best) question in various forms, fitting the question to the particular perspective of the audience or receiver(s) in the given context.
A few days ago, I interpreted the opening ceremony at an area college. I commented to my interpreting teammate that one of the benefits of being associated with education is that we are exposed to inspirational speeches a couple of times a year. No matter how many motivational speeches I’ve interpreted (usually from English into ASL), nearly every presenter manages to say something new or particularly relevant to whatever challenges I am currently living. This time it was Rainer Maria Rilke:
Recently, my writing has involved email correspondence with a range of different groups of people with various degrees of interest in simultaneous interpretation. I am living the question with each of these groups. The simultaneity of the conversations give me hope that we are, already, somehow living ourselves into the best answer.
Dad watched the time as we drove some winding high mountain highway in the Colorado Rockies. He had purchased a black-and-white television that could be powered from the cigarette lighter to bring along just for this trip. As the target time approached, he pulled onto the shoulder, and sent my brother and I to wag down passers-by and invite them to watch the moon walk with us.
Or maybe it was the moon launch. I don’t remember clearly. The picture was grainy, only a few cars drove by and none of the drivers thought it was important to stop. (I can’t recall if there were any passengers; I don’t recall any consultations.) I think we weirded them out. I know that I felt a little embarrassed, what were we doing, this strange behavior out of the norm of everything I’d ever seen?
I was six years old, just trying to grasp what was happening and why it mattered so much.
How did they get the camera there?! That required foresight, pre-planning and imagination: visionary (imagining things in the category of “we don’t know what we don’t know”) and apocalyptic (“things could go bad”). I feel a sense of nostalgia for that kind of epic stage when one of the largest visible masses of people being presented through the media were joined by a common dream – to reach the stars! My tendency is to ignore the other forces that contributed motivation: specifically a military space race based on nationalism. Because Vietnam was happening then (I don’t think my parents were paying attention, or maybe they were studiously avoiding it, I’m not sure. Or they talked about it, but not ever when I was around.)
That kind of scientific endeavor seems like a new form of social organization. Wasn’t it distinguished by voluntary selection? Meaning, most of the people who worked on the moon project were in fields they had wanted to learn about and contribute to… right? That’s a kind of classic scientific research which seems much less common, these days. When such large-scale works have been done in the past (e.g., the Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, US railway and highway system, etc) the organization has been coercive: I’ll pay you what I want and beat you if you protest.
Isabel suggested today that I am able to be an optimist because I actually “touched” the ’60s. I was born and grew up during that phase of historical economy when the system really was working for nearly everybody.
Not many people, these days, get to be a meaningful part of the machine, the economic engine that drives us to work, tuning for efficiency and exerting rigid controls. This is a major reason why I’ve become so interested in the work of emergency management professionals. First Responders are feeling a sense of urgency, on a large system-scale, that suggests the kind of intensity motivating the US’s original space program. They care about their work. This caring was in constant evidence at a recent pilot training that the DC Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism, Serve DC, provided at Gallaudet University. CERT training is required for establishing a Community Emergency Response Team (a CERT). The pilot was earmarked for the Deaf community associated with Gallaudet because, as Dwight Benedict (Dean of Student Affairs and Academic Suppor and a co-chair of Gallaudet’s Crisis Leadership Team) explained during a focus group: “We know if something catastrophic happens in DC the Deaf community is going to come here. They are going to come to Gallaudet just like they went to the Lousiana School for the Deaf when Katrina hit New Orleans. We need to be ready.”
Three focus groups were added to the usual training package in order to explore the ramifications of using simultaneous sign language interpretation within the field of emergency management. The challenges of communicating in two different timestreams were apparent. Frustrations with adapting to the special circumstances of intercultural communication are complicated even more when one of the languages is based in vision and light instead of hearing and sound. These frustrations were more-or-less contained by the focus groups, which allowed each primary stakeholder group (Hearing interlocutors, Deaf interlocutors, and interpreters) the chance to explore their experience and draw comparisons and contrasts internally. Because there was a formal structure for processing the experience, the interpretation itself did not become the main issue of the training – the content of the training material and relationships among Deaf and Hearing interlocutors were able to be the most important dynamics.
One of the instructors, Chief John Sollers, shared with the group how important the experience had been for him, saying that he had learned a lot and that direct interaction with Deaf people using interpreters should be a part of routine training: “We need to practice how we’ll play.”
Simultaneous interpretation is co-constructed activity with consequences for human society in the dimensions of culture (time) and equality (control). This workshop explores the possibilities and limits of paradigm shift from information-based to relationship-centered professional practices of interpreting, using a combination of critical lecture and experiential conversation.
Many interpreters are familiar with the idea of intercultural or intergroup communication, which takes the identity of participants as important to meaning. . This workshop extends the idea of “identity” to the different roles individuals have in any communication situation. We’ll explore the case of emergency management interpreting, where First Responders have very clear priorities that may not coincide with what Deaf and hard-of-hearing people believe they need. Likewise, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have express communication needs that may not coincide with what First Responders believe they can accommodate.
Many interpreters are familiar with the idea of intercultural or intergroup communication, which takes the identity of participants as important to meaning. This workshop extends the idea of “identity” to the different roles individuals have in any communication situation. While keeping factors of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion and other cultural dimensions in mind, the frame of reference that interlocutors bring to interpreted communication based on their role in the interaction is a crucial consideration. As an example and in order to practice skills, we’ll explore the case of emergency management interpreting, where First Responders have very clear priorities that may not coincide with what Deaf and hard-of-hearing people believe they need. Likewise, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have express communication needs that may not coincide with what First Responders believe they can accommodate. This workshop plays with the idea of an interpreter’s role zone (Lee, 2010) as a pivot point within the larger mission of response and recovery. Developing interpreter competence in shifting alignments (on the basis of the relation between interlocutor’s specific roles and the overall context) is a skill that transfers to all interpreted interactions.
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to
name at least three ways of understanding role,
identify the context of an interpreted interaction and describe how the context shapes interlocutor role choices,
talk about the interplay of functional roles in a group with intercultural dynamics arising from defining role on the basis of identity,
describe Goffman’s concept of footing and how it is relevant to interpreted interaction, and
explain the grounded task of an emergency management interpreter.