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These articles informed a recent talk on the topic of whiteness for sign language interpreters.

white-fog

A continuum of character development from white fragility through white fog toward appropriate whiteness.

“White people [must move] from an individual understanding of racism—i.e. only some people are racist and those people are bad—to a structural understanding [of white privilege].”

~ Dr Robin DiAngelo ~

White People: Stop Microvalidating Each Other, Stephanie Jo Kent

White Fragility: Why it’s so hard to talk to White people about racism, Robin DiAngelo

Fighting White Supremacy and White Privilege to Build a Human Rights Movement, Loretta Ross

Calling In: A Less Disposable Way of ­­­Holding Each Other Accountable, Ngoc Loan Tran

It’s time for white people to reckon with racism, Eve Ensler

28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors, Jona Olsson

The Near Certainty of Anti-Police Violence, Ta-Nahisi Coates

Dear White Parents of my Black Child’s Friends: I Need Your Help, Maralee Bradley

White America Couldn’t Handle What Black America Deals with Every Day, Henry Rollins

This is what white people can do to support #BlackLivesMatter, Sally Kohn

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda on Finding Originality, Racial Politics (and Why Trump Should See His Show), Lin-Maneul Miranda & Frank DiGiacomo

10 Books I Wish My White Teachers Had Read, Crystal Paul

What it’s like to be Black in Napierville, America, Brian Crooks

Police shootings won’t stop unless we address this problem no one is talking about, Jack Hitt

Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no. Wesley Lowery

Could all this racial violence bring two sides together? Faye Higbee

Branches of Mentoring, Michael Meade

end white silence

“It is over.”

With this epigraph, Charles Genoud begins his book on the non-sense of time. Near the end of Gesture of Awareness (pp. 164-166), Genoud writes:

I hold on to the notion
of a subject.

On the impersonal world of experiences,
with a single letter, I
I trace a person,

as if creating
a blower of the wind,
a rainer of the rain.

A single letter
sets two worlds apart:

the world of object
and the world of subject,
and thus comes exile.

We are all storytellers.
We spin the fiction of our lives,
the fiction that we are.

I may move
my hand in a way that one
could call circular—

but there is no circle.
Can my hand be
at more than one place at a time?

If so,
where is the circle?

One is holding only traces, memories:
it is through such traces that one speaks
of movement, and of a circle.

The fiction that I am
is created in a similar way.

Holding to traces of past moments,
holding to imagined future moments,
I draw an enduring character, I.

But just as with the circle
seen in the movement of a hand,
I am no where to be found.

Once I’ve created the main character, I
once I’ve put distance between
myself and experience—

my story can’t be but a story of exile,
of a hopeless wandering.

Exile can end only with end
of the split between
object and subject;

exile can end only if the fictitious nature
of object and subject
is seen through.

As the main character
is also the storyteller,
he resists his own ending.

The world of traces, of fiction,
isn’t another world

as there is no real world
with respect to which it could be
other.

The memory of the circle
drawn by my hand is only
the trace of a trace,

the trace of something that
never was.

I’m also looking forward to seeing a ragged assortment of Monks and Nuns when the Human Sushi Platter will be guest of honor at an event hosted by Hot Mama.

Whoa-thinknotnotice_BLACKEDOUT

Click here for a related vlog (in American Sign Language)

The second day after Mandela’s Memorial we were greeted the news that the so-called fake interpreter Thamsanqa Dyantyi/Jyantie is schizophrenic. (His claim and apology is being met with a mixture of belief and doubt.) Whatever sympathy he gleans should be suitable to his illness. This does not excuse the government for hiring him. It has apparently fallen to the Deputy Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities to take the heat. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu explains that Mr Dyantyi “is Xhosa speaking. The English was a bit too much for him.”

That same day, the Deaf community continued to respond to the swell of disappointment and outrage over the lack of real communication access for Deaf people to participate in the Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela. The thoughtfulness of the Deaf world’s formal responses are worthy of careful attention.


‘People of the Eye’ respond with a full range of emotions

  • An elegant news feature from H3TV presents a biography of Nelson Mandela. Presented in international sign language, I learned Mandela’s name sign and a powerful sign for apartheid.
  • South African poet Modiegi Moime renders a beautiful tribute in South African Sign Language.
  • After watching a clip with a CNN anchor, Deaf actress Marlee Matlin explains,

“I can tell he’s thinking to himself,
‘Oh no, how should I do this,
well let’s see what I just did, I’ll do it again!’”

Deaf people have practice tolerating inadequate interpretation. Hearing people often disregard the quality of the interpreter, and many lose patience with this special process of intercultural communication. While “It’s probably safe to say that South Africa’s relationship with its deaf community is historically complex — much more complex than the “fake interpreter!” headlines would make it appear,” as Caitlin Dewey writes, it would be false to assume the problem with providing qualified sign language interpreter only occurs there.

A Certified Deaf Interpreter from the western United States (Utah), Jeff Pollock, makes a compelling argument that Hearing people should also be upset.

“The interpreter does not just work for Deaf people. They work for hearing people as well, [who] want to make sure that their messages are heard by the Deaf community.”

Mr Pollock briefly explains the sign language interpreter certification process in the United States and advocates that these processes of professionalization be taken more seriously.

Don’t move on too quickly…

The first gesture of Mandela-like reconciliation came, interestingly, from the same Deaf South African Parliamentarian who first alerted people to the incompetence of the ‘interpreter’ being televised from the stage.

Yesterday Wilma Neuhoudt tweeted, “Tata Madiba would have understood” while asserting her support for People with Disabilities (PWD).  Her early Tweets correctly used punctuation too, in contrast with every news story I’ve seen to date.Madiba would undestand

Journalists and their editors have been responsible, it seems, in putting ‘fake’ in quotation marks, shifting the focus from the single person—”this male so called interpreter” as Ms. Neuhoudt pinpointed the problem—to highlighting the challenge of people not fluent in a sign language to be able to distinguish quality just by looking.

It is hard to know, from the perspective of the whitewashed west, if there are different cultural values at work, such as factors of relationship or an ethos of inclusion focused on someone(s) other than the audience watching the broadcast. It does, however, seem that Ms. Neuhoudt suggests gender as an issue along with the essential absence of effective communication.

A strong signal for “Hearing” people

Interpreters began monitoring and sharing news reports all over the UK and US.

Interpreters began monitoring and sharing news reports all over the UK and US.

This is more than a “flap over ‘hand flapping’” as it is being sensationalized by an LA Times headline. It is true that Deaf people are embarrassed and even describe feeling “humiliated.” Upon arrival at an interpreting assignment in the US yesterday, a young Deaf consumer barely said hello to me before launching into a detailed description of how upset he feels. Allies of Deaf people and Deaf culture, many of them professional sign language interpreters are also furious.

Confusion about whether the white woman shown signing was part of the service or part of a journalism team at a news station.

Confusion about whether the white woman shown signing was part of the service or part of a journalism team at a news station.

This is the opposite phenomenon to the sensationalized dehumanizing of Lydia Callis’ emergency interpreting during Hurricane Sandy. Then it was all about hearing people’s exposure to the language Deaf people use to communicate, and now it’s all about the show Hearing people will put on while still avoiding real communication.

But the Deaf community has a lot more allies now! Friends who don’t know sign language checked in and shared articles. makesense Exposure to Deaf people and interpreters increases as Hearing people realize there are Deaf people living their lives alongside ours. They are letting us know, loud and clear, that they are watching, and they see.

Deaf people see what “the Hearing” do and fail to do

Sign languages are as complicated as spoken languages. (Braille is a code for written language, not quite the same thing.)

Sign languages are as complicated as spoken languages. (Braille is a code for written language, not quite the same thing.)

Of course Deaf people noticed the failure of communication.  They always do. However they don’t always have the means to let us know they’re watching. In this instance, the failure is so large and so meaningful that—for a few moments, they have us by the ear. Interpreting is not a show. Interpreters do not perform for the sake of a show. Interpreters interpret to enable communication between people who would otherwise not be able to understand each other.

 

 

Here is the script for the lightning talk I gave on June 15, 2013 at Interpret America’s 4th Annual Summit. It was first published by the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) on their weblog and then in the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) newsletter. The slides continue to receive views too: at Slideshare (static slides),  and Authorstream (animated slides). The video of the talk is contracted to be published by Interpret America.

holding_cloudswaterboathands_SacapuntasI am excited to talk with you today about the real value of interpreting, which is communicating pluralingual relationships into the future. Now, that’s quite a word, pluralingualism, but all it means is two or more languages used at the same time by people interacting with each other.

I’ve been thinking about interpreting in terms of history since the late 1980s, which is when I met Deaf people and began learning American Sign Language. At that time, the American Deaf Community was in the midst of an empowering movement for social change. The Bilingual-Bicultural movement included criticism of signed language interpreters. The criticism focused on what Deaf people called “the machine model” of interpreting. When the profession was established in 1964, it had quickly become dominated by interpreters with weak or no ties to Deaf culture.

Read the rest of this entry »

The “intersection” in this blog entry on social resilience involves computer science and brain science.

What if we gamed Twitter?

What if we gamed Twitter?

While Professor Beverly Woolf and colleagues from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented on smart tutoring at the Artificial Intelligence in Education conference, I listened to a webinar from Dr Dennis S. Charney, MD, from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai present data supporting his “resilience prescription” for individuals.

Stimulating processes of social resilience

Two of Charney’s eight resilience principles, however, involve other people: role models and a supportive social network. Combining the social aspect of resilience with the human-computer interface and education has potential to enhance sophisticated problem-solving around the globe.

The developing world has 4 billion mobile phone subscriptions. In Africa, average penetration is a third of the population, and in north Africa it is almost two-thirds. South Africa now has almost 100% penetration. In sub-Saharan Africa, mobile phone ownership is 30%. ~ Dr Beverly P. Woolf

The potentials for knowledge communication through savvy tele-education exceed youth. These technologies can also enable adults who care about intercultural social networking and mass organizing for social justice. Read the rest of this entry »

One of the legacies of persistent discrimination is pent-up emotion. Lack of services and humane consideration adds up and seeks outlets. Get a group of sign language interpreters and Deaf people together to work on solutions to bad or absent communication and inevitably a flood of frustration will arise. Read the rest of this entry »

Use google to search for #demx and use Twitter to participate in spreading information about the professionalization of a new subfield in emergency management interpreting.

Introduction to the Incident Command System and Interpreter Strike Teams

FireTracker2 RT Pope quote

Discussion during this introductory module demonstrated the importance of interpreters taking four of the FEMA courses offered free online before attending ASL Interpreter Strike Team training, including NIMS 100.B, Introduction to the Incident Command System, and NIMS 700.a, National Incident Management System. Two additional NIMS courses are also recommended as the minimal requirement for preparing to become an emergency management interpreter – IS 800.B, Introduction to the National Response Framework and IS 7, A Citizen’s Guide To Disaster Assistance. Additional recommended coursework is listed at the Florida Interpreter Strike Team’s webpage.

 

Self-Care and Trauma Mitigation

toys and self-care EMI trainingIdentifying the behaviors that indicate depression or other responses to trauma are crucial to maintaining emotional and cognitive balance before, during, and after interpreting in emergency management contexts.

One reason that I have become so interested in the work of emergency management professionals is because Emergency Planners and First Responders are feeling a sense of urgency, on a large system-scale, that suggests the kind of intensity motivating the space program’s original mission to reach the moon. Emergency management professionals care about their work because they understand the relationship of what they do to achieving a larger vision: public safety and the capacity to recover quickly from disasters. This caring was in constant evidence at yesterday’s Whole Community Preparedness Summit sponsored by the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council at UMass Amherst. It was also evident in a pilot training that the DC Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism, Serve DC, provided last year at Gallaudet University. One of the instructors for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) team training, 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.” Read the rest of this entry »

Abstract

This article poses the existence of a relational model of interpreting that is already rooted in culturally Deaf ways of using evolved interpreters for intercultural communication.  Read the rest of this entry »

VERA_CEUsThis 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.

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