Language in Motion Interpreting

Why is “Deaf” capitalized?

When Deaf is capitalized it is referring to “big D” Deaf.  This group does not see itself as a disability group, but rather as a cultural and linguistic minority group. The members take pride in their membership in this group. They do not focus on their hearing loss, but instead on their shared language, experience, and culture. Members of this group may have varying degrees of hearing loss and still call themselves “Deaf”.

Should I use the word “hearing-impaired”?

This terminology is largely frowned upon by the Deaf community as it focuses on what they can’t do. Most Deaf community members would rather be referred to as Deaf. However, it’s always the best policy to ask the person with whom you are working what they prefer.

What is the role of an interpreter?

An Interpreter functions to help two people who speak different languages communicate. In this case, the two languages are American Sign Language(ASL) and English. The interpreter will speak in first person when they are conveying what the Deaf individual is saying. The interpreter remains neutral in the setting and does not give his or her opinion. The interpreter may provide cultural information to make the communication more effective.

How much does an interpreter cost?

Rates for interpreters vary by geographic location and whether or not the state in question has licensure and/or professional standards for interpreters. The Commonwealth of Kentucky requires Interpreters to be licensed and nationally certified. Language in Motion (LIM) charges competitive rates for this area and can be found in our Interpreting Services Contract.

Why do I need to hire an interpreter?

First and foremost it is required by federal law. The Americans with Disabilities Act Title III states:

1. A public accommodation shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities. This includes an obligation to provide effective communication to companions who are individuals with disabilities.

2. A public accommodation shall not require an individual with a disability to bring another individual to interpret for him or her.

3. A public accommodation shall not rely on an adult accompanying an individual with a disability to interpret or facilitate communication

Can’t I just write back and forth with the Deaf individual?

This does not meet the requirement for effective communication listed in ADA Title III. If you can imagine walking into your doctor’s office and relying solely on written communication, you can see why this might not be as effective as communicating verbally. Written communication can be tedious, cumbersome and time-consuming and often information is omitted in the interest of time or convenience. Not only that, but English is commonly a Deaf individual’s second language (American Sign Language is their first). So, now imagine attending a doctor’s visit and having to write in your second language! This is not ideal for anyone involved. It inevitably leads to misunderstandings, errors, and omissions. This could be the difference in “take two tablets once a day” and “take one tablet twice a day”- in some instances that could be a life-threatening misunderstanding. Make sure the message is clear and understood by hiring a qualified ASL interpreter.

Are interpreters required to be licensed?

The Commonwealth of Kentucky requires Interpreters to be licensed and nationally certified. You can verify that the interpreter you are working with is licensed in Kentucky by searching this database. Kentucky was one of the first states to raise the bar for its Deaf citizens in regards to interpreter quality and professionalism.

What is American Sign Language? Is it universal?

The National Association of the Deaf defines ASL this way: American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language. With signing, the brain processes linguistic information through the eyes. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements, all play important parts in conveying information.

Sign language is not a universal language — each country has its own sign language, and regions have dialects, much like the many languages spoken all over the world. Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. Like all languages, ASL is a living language that grows and changes over time.

ASL is used predominantly in the United States and in many parts of Canada. ASL is accepted by many high schools, colleges, and universities in fulfillment of modern and “foreign” language academic degree requirements across the United States.

How does one become an interpreter?

People become interpreters through different avenues. Currently, the most common way is to attend an Interpreter Training Program. They are becoming increasingly common at colleges and universities around the country. Most are four-year programs that teach ASL as a foreign language and also teach the process of interpreting ASL to English and vice versa. Interpreters are now required to hold a four-year degree to be able to stand for the certification test. Some interpreters also have Deaf family and have the benefit of learning ASL as their first language.

Are interpreters bound by a code of ethics?

Yes, nationally-certified interpreters are bound by the Code of Professional Conduct which covers a variety of ethical issues including confidentiality. You can read the CPC here.

Who certifies an interpreter?

Currently, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) is the certifying body for interpreters. They do the testing and rating for interpreters nationally. The Kentucky Board of Interpreters requires passage of one of these tests to hold full licensure to practice in the Commonwealth of Kentucky without restriction.

Do you have any tips for working with Deaf consumers and interpreters?

Yes! Treat them as you would any other consumer of your services! Speak directly to them. (No need to say “tell him” or “tell her”) Make eye contact with the Deaf individual, not the interpreter. It’s okay to acknowledge the interpreter, but not necessary. If the interpreter is doing their jobs, he or she will fade into the woodwork. Acknowledge the Deaf individual first- they are your patient/employee/consumer. Talk at a normal volume and pace- most of the time you don’t need to slow down or pause because there’s an interpreter there or speak in a louder voice. The interpreter will let you know if you need to slow down or speak up. The interpreter will probably stand or sit near the person who is doing the most speaking and within view of the Deaf individual so they can see the speaker and the interpreter at the same time, but it is preferable to let the Deaf individual decide the best visual placement for the interpreter.