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Within the American Deaf community, interpreters can find themselves in various roles.  For example, in addition to being an interpreter, one might be a family member, a friend, an acquaintance, or a respected professional.


Will the new interpreter just meeting the Deaf community become a welcomed friend overnight or even within the first year or two?  Possibly not.  Friendship and trust is to be earned.  Sincere interest in and respect for a community (into which one is not born), its members, and their collective welfare and advancement may be professed in a single sentence, but must be demonstrated and observed over time.


New interpreters occasionally make the mistake of thinking they will be welcomed with open arms and warm hearts as they make their arrival upon the scene.  It is best to anticipate that you will be welcomed with courtesy, a "Nice to meet you," and guarded smiles.  Your behavior over time can enable warmth and friendships to grow.


While it is typically not openly discussed it is nonetheless true that the relationship between a deaf person and a hearing interpreter can be by its very nature complex.  Among feelings of respect, concern, and enjoyment of the other's company, might also be unspoken resentments.

Concerning relationships in general (hearing, deaf, or otherwise): If one person feels more dependent on a relationship than s/he thinks the other person feels, discomfort can result, possibly resentment.  Resentment is not uncommon if one person feels unequally matched or less powerful than another, even if the perceived inequality or powerlessness does not match the opinion held by the other person.

We mention this sensitive and awkward element because some interpreters (especially new interpreters) are caught off-guard by the dynamics of unfamiliar relationships.  We hope the reader will tuck this info away for future use - the need may or may not arise.



 Designated Interpreter (DI)

A "designated interpreter" [sic] holds a special place in the life of a deaf consumer or group.  This interpreter has been someone's preferred interpreter and may accompany and provide interpreting services throughout business or personal travel, interpret for a particular student during post-graduate studies, be the DI for someone famous or for a professional in a highly specialized field such as bioengineering.  Clearly, designated interpreters consistently demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to RID Code of Professional Ethics.

Interpreters who provide services exclusively for one person or group, intensely and over several or many years are not the norm within the interpreting community, but are not at all unusual within the Deaf community, where especially successful members find it helpful to receive interpreter service that dependable and consistently accurate, appropriate, and compatible to the task and the consumer.

Has Heart

An interpreter who shows that s/he "has heart" is one who, during the interpreting assignment, shows generosity of spirit and sincere interest in the welfare, comfort, and understanding of the deaf consumer.  This interpreter is considered an ally, not a cold-hearted business professional who is just there to make money off the Deaf community.  An interpreter who has heart is trusted.  Interpreters who have heart also consistently demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to RID Code of Professional Ethics.


A "welcomed" interpreter is one who has been around for several or a number of years.  By now, the interpreter is known by several or many members of the local Deaf community.  Alternatively, the interpreter may be known well elsewhere and may have recently relocated to a different state, where their positive reputation precedes them.  Welcomed interpreters consistently demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to RID Code of Professional Ethics.


The "acceptable" interpreter is one about whom deaf consumers might politely nod and say, "Oh, yes, I've met her/him. Sure, s/he's fine.  OK.  That's fine, yes."  Acceptable interpreters consistently demonstrate their understanding of and commitment to RID Code of Professional Ethics.


The "unremarkable" interpreter is one who has neither favorably nor unfavorably impressed consumers.  Consumers may have to think about or discuss a particular interpreter for several minutes before they can recall having met him/her.  Unremarkable interpreters have done no known harm to the American Deaf community or its members, but neither have they made much of a positive mark for the interpreting profession.


You do not wish to be an "unacceptable" interpreter.  Unacceptable interpreters have either generally done a less-than-acceptable job over time, or they have messed up one time in a dramatic way that was costly to a consumer, to an agency/employer, or to the interpreter him- or herself.  

Unacceptable interpreters will find themselves out of work, not requested or accepted for assignments, and aimlessly milling around under a cloak of ill repute.  

Some unacceptable interpreters have attempted a geographic cure (relocation) to escape the problem of their bad name; but within the Deaf community, word travels at the speed of light.  An interpreter's reputation often precedes their arrival in another state.  Unacceptable interpreters eventually leave the profession. 










This page was edited: 09/15/2009
This page has been visited Hit Counter times since: May 14, 2009.
TerpTopics is s trademark and service mark of TerpTopics, LLC. © 2009. All rights reserved.

TerpTopics™ is an independent entity; as such does not claim or attempt to claim, represent, or imply by any means whatsoever that it is associated with any other entity that may or may not offer services, goods, or information of interest to interpreter, Deaf, or student communities.  The opinions expressed here those of TerpTopics unless otherwise stated.  Please keep in mind that, while every effort is made to present correct, appropriate, and reasonable information that is based on our experience, anecdotal experiences of others, or developed during the general course of study and professional development, we do not represent TerpTopics as having cornered the market on wisdom (heck, no!) or experience; one reason why links to several other good and reliable resources are made available throughout this site, and we hope that earnest seekers of knowledge will take advantage of them.

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