by An anonymous interpreter in Texas
I’m an interpreter at a University.
CARDINAL RULE 1: I’M NOT HERE. DON’T TALK TO ME, talk to my client. “Tell her/ask him” is really annoying for the interpreter and the Deaf client. And talk DIRECTLY to them. Don’t look at me, look at THEM.
Don’t ask the interpreter personal questions about the client. The interpreter can’t answer, WHICH INCLUDES “What is their name.” I really CAN’T answer that. I can’t answer a SINGLE question about that person.
Don’t ask an interpreter to not sign something. They’re going to anyway, and it’s only going to make you look stupid. On top of that, you’re talking about someone behind their back WHILE THEY’RE IN THE ROOM! If you want to say something in private, leave the room. If I hear it, my client hears it.
If you’re the professor, DO NOT ask the interpreter to do anything else. “Close that door” “hand me that stapler” “watch them to make sure they don’t cheat” is not part of my job. I do one thing only. Interpret. How would you like doing a mentally and physically complicated task and then be asked to juggle live snakes. That’s a pretty good equivalent, and puts the interpreter in an awkward position.
If you want the door closed and ask me, I’m just going to stare at it. Same with the stapler. And the “watch them” scenario has resulted only in numerous occasions where I see an entire class cheating. Know what I do during tests? I read the latest Patricia Cornwell novel. And no, I’m not going to tell you if they cheated or not. That’s not my job.
Don’t make cute little “sympathy smiles” at the Deaf person. They’re not cute little characters. They’re people who do NOT have a disability. Even if they DID it’s not appropriate.
Do NOT ask the Deaf person how much hearing they have. It’s none of your business and along the same lines of asking a guy if he’s circumcised, and a woman how much she weighs. It’s highly personal. (I’m also Hard of Hearing and that is a sore spot for me. My level of hearing has been a source of peoples curiosity since childhood.) Compare this to if you’ve had weight problems throughout your life and every time you go to class some loud mouth in front of everyone screams at you HOW MUCH DO YOU WEIGH!!!!!
If a class is an hour and a half: I’m fine. No break necessary. ANY class more than an hour and a half necessitates a break. You HAVE to provide that break. It’s an accommodation. Would you like to hold your arms up for two hours straight, and on top of that translate one language to another? Holding class without me in the room: you just violated the ADA.
In work groups in classes: TALK ONE AT A TIME!
Do NOT tell me where I can and can’t stand/sit. It’s your class, but that’s not your call, it’s mine and my clients. A note on that: if you tell me that I’m “distracting” your class… you’re telling me that that Deaf students presence is an annoyance for you. There’s a word for that: bigotry. Once I hear the D word, I know you, Mr. or Mrs. Professor are one of “Those Kinds of Professors” and I will report you to the University’s behavior officer for violating the University’s Diversity policy. (During my career I’ve had three professors fired. And hate to point this out, but I’m more rare and valuable than you are.)
Going along with the last point, don’t say “God Bless you” etc. 9 times out of 10 I make a LOT more money than you. I don’t work for minimum wage. I average 7 grand a semester per class.
Finally, the most important thing to remember. If I’m working for a person who doesn’t voice for themselves, when you hear my voice, it’s simply my body making the sounds, but it’s NOT me talking. Don’t look at me like I’m interrupting your class.
Comments for VERY BLUNT: Interpreters in an Academic Setting