Have had two more opportunities to practice moving instead of sitting as I interpret. Both of these were with Deaf persons who don’t do lipreading (the other two so far tend to switch back and forth between lipreading and watching the interpretation). I was anxious how it would go….maybe this method is only good for those in that in-between position of being able to get by without interpreters one-on-one but not in groups?
But no (!), both of these Deaf consumers said they felt more attentive, that it was better to follow the interpreter with their gaze and be able to see who was speaking, and that they felt more engaged.
The movement did not, however, make it automatically easier to break into the non-deaf, spoken flow of conversation. These two particular groups are so used to interpretation that they basically ignore the whole process. (That’s how they were trained, and how they’ve gotten used to it.) Even us doing something completely different like standing and walking around them the entire time (!) didn’t ruffle their composure or cause more than a glance or two of mild curiousity. No one asked. That’s a bit discouraging, but one of the non-deaf persons was involved in both groups and I was able to check and get their opinion – which was noncommittal, basically “no big deal” and “do whatever you want.”
I explained how, at one point, the group had begun speaking of something internal to their operations that all of them knew but neither me nor my team did. Whatever their phrase was to refer to an entire complicated procedure involving several people and phrases was not transparent – after explanation we knew what it meant, but not without a reference point! Unfortunately, it took a good three minutes to break into the group’s talking to get the clarification, by which point in time the Deaf person was pretty far behind on the concrete details of the discussion. Of course, we did our best to fill in the gaps, and he’s quick-minded and familiar enough with the context that he could manage, but still…..how much was lost?
It felt like a risk to try this “new” method in this “old” group, and with culturally-grounded Deaf persons. I’m pleased it worked out as well as it did, even if it’s not an instant cure for the problems of linguistic inequality.