Deaf Voice and the Invention of Community Interpreting


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. 

Deaf criticism of professional interpreters directs attention to the history of simultaneous interpretation and its origins at the Nuremberg trials. The birth of professional spoken language simultaneous interpretation occurred as a result of new technology used in a new situation. In that setting, the role space of the interpreter was created and confined within a language regime based on unquestioned and therefore non-negotiable values.

The Deaf voice has been raised in protest against some of the restrictions of this model for half a century. During this time, sign language interpreters and practitioner-researchers have been watching and learning. Finally, recent theoretical concepts have begun to shape the framework of an alternative paradigm.


3 thoughts on “Deaf Voice and the Invention of Community Interpreting”

  1. Just cited:

    In the US, Stephanie Kent’s recent PhD presents the case that Deaf critiques of interpreters highlight the homogenising effects of the conference style of interpreting. She states that these effects are most obvious in the insistence on speed and the ‘invisibility’ of the interpreter as false standard – because rather than mediating difference by preserving cultural uniqueness, the invisibility of the interpreter suppresses and hides differences. (p. 5)

    In “From theory to practice” by Jules Dickinson for NEWSLI, a publication of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters, July 2013.

  2. I concur with Ruth about the need for an ongoing workshop everywhere to educate our community on how to best use the various interpreters. that would include a more fundamental approach in additional to talking about “your rights”. (Role-playing is a common occurence in the deaf community). I also agree that we should accept a variety of styles subject to topics, circumstances.
    in real world, we do seek optimal outcomes,so why would it be different here?
    Of course, challenges are forthcoming when,for example, you have a person with limited English proficiency taking a calculus class.
    But the law, as i understand it, allows for a revisit of the arrangement.
    Holding time,aptly named,is already practiced by some interpreters in consultative sessions or similar situations.
    as time evolve, we will see new standards. Thanks for your spearheading efforts.

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