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How To Learn Sign Language

Sign Language Interpreters Pros and Cons

Hey guys I’m Amanda and I’m Deaf! In today’s video I’m gonna be talking about interpreters. Alright let’s start with the story that inspired this video: you see I had a gynecologist appointment the other day… Yeah you see where I’m going with this..? So, I show up at the doctor’s office right after requesting an interpreter for this appointment and I’m sitting in the waiting room and this woman shows up. And I was like “Oh, thank goodness it’s a woman!” I never met this woman in my life. Never. Complete stranger, and this complete stranger goes into the gynecologist appointment with me. So, I have like my legs up on these stirrups right? I have a Doctor poking around down there and I have a stranger standing next to me signing everything my Doctor is say. Awkward. Now I love my interpreters I think they’re amazing but… oh my gosh you guys! Gynecologist appointment. Stranger. Awkward. So, I’m going to start with the four thingsI love about our amazing, friendly, neighborhood interpreters. Ok, so first is: they give us access to information. Access to doctors appointments, and when we go to the theater, all this stuff. Information we wouldn’t get otherwise. And they’re kind of like angels and amazing human beings who dedicate their lives to doing that, to giving us access, so love them! mmm most the time. Right. The second thing I love about interpreters is they’re so entertaining to watch! Like when you go to Disneyland or when you go to a concert. Watching them sign the music is so entertaining! It’s even more entertaining than watching the actual show most of the time. One of the other things I love about interpreters is they tend to also be advocates for the Deaf community and help educate their friends and family and people that are around them about deaf people. So, they spread information about our community, about our our lifestyle, about how to communicate with us, and that is so valuable! One of the last things that I love about interpreters is that they give me so much confidence. When I go into a work meeting, when I go into a speaking engagement, I know that because I have an interpreter with me I’m going to get the information. I don’t have to stress about it. I don’t have to worry: “Will I understand when people ask me questions?” or “Are people understanding me?” My interpreter has my back and that gives me so much confidence walking into a meeting or walking into a presentation. I don’t have to worry about it. They got me. It’s all good. Now I’m going to talk about a few things that I… kinda hate when it comes to interpreters. You really have to trust them. Like, you’ve never met this person in your life, it is your first time, you know, seeing them ever and they’re going into important meetings, they’re going in there helping you have important conversations. You have to trust that one: there actually interpreting what you’re actually saying. Two: they’re actually saying what you’re signing. Or three: that they won’t go home and tell their friends everything that just happened. Yeah… I really had to trust that nice young woman who went into the gynecologist with me to interpret. Like she could have you gone out to a bar afterwards a been like: “You guys Amanda had a gynecologist appointment today, it went great, I just wanted to let you all know that; so, the next time you see her you can give her a nice thumbs up!” You know? Like we really have to trust them to keep our information private. Which leads to the next thing which is… you see them everywhere. Most interpreters are also involved in the Deaf community, or have lots of Deaf friends, because we become friends, because we work so close together. But it’s so awkward, like if I ever see that specific interpreter again, like at a hangout or Deaf event, I’m gonna be like: “So… Hi…. great to see you… I’m fully clothed right now… no hospital gown… you know, actual pants, and so you might not recognize me…” You know? Like oh my gosh! Or even somebody who interprets for like videophones like: “Hey… You helped me interpret my phone break up my boyfriend last night… I appreciate it… thanks for really, you know, getting that anger in your voice that I was feeling at the moment… because I needed that…” uh-huh Ok. The next thing I’m kinda hate It’s so expensive! I mean, you guys totally deserve top dollar, you rock, but I’m not made of money. I’m not rich and giving a company or an organization to pay for an interpreter is like pulling teeth because they don’t want to spend the money. And it it just gets really frustrating sometimes. Which leads me to my next thing… it’s hard to get an interpreter for event. Especially at the last minute and, you know, life happens at the last minute. Not everyone plans two months in advance where they’re going to be so that they have time to get interpreter and all of that. Like… Life happens, you can’t just go, as a Deaf person, spontaneously, to a theater and watch Wicked. You don’t get to be spontaneous and go and do events and stuff because we need have an interpreter. And getting an interpreter takes time, and effort, and lots of phone calls, and emails, and scheduling, and working, and coordinating with the theater, or the organization, or the company, to make sure the interpreter gets paid. And it’s just… you’re getting the idea. It’s hard, it’s hard, and it’s expensive. And that is what I have to say about interpreters today. Thank you all for watching! I know this video is a little bit longer my videos normally run but i hope you enjoyed it. To all those interpreters out there, we love you, we appreciate you! I’m not hating on you, I promise. Please still interpret for me! I love you! Alright guys, hope you enjoyed this video. If you liked it, subscribe to my youtube channel and thanks for watching! See you later!

22 Replies to “Sign Language Interpreters Pros and Cons”

  • Hi Amanda!
    I'm a student in an interpreting program and I really appreciated all you had to say in your video! It's always good to hear what deaf people think about interpreters and what we can do to improve 🙂

  • I am a relatively new terp and I totally get the trusting thing. 🙂 Honestly, it doesn't cross my mind to share what jobs I have had. My dad, as an EMT instilled in me how important confidentiality is.
    But still…totally get the worry. Me stranger, client stranger….are we instigators or professionals here?
    Question: Generally, how do you think interpreters can help create an atmosphere of professional conduct and trust with their clients (whom ya'll deafies see everywhere)? Have you noticed an interpret doing something that didn't built trust?

    What I love about my job is giving confidence to clients. When communication is happening, and people are connecting, I am just elated beyond words. 🙂

    Love the video Amanda 🙂

  • If your going to sign you should sign throughout you started off signing but then stopped in the middle of the video. I put the captions on so it wasn't a bother and my volume was up all the way so i could hear.

  • The interpreter would have probably been a health care interpreter… whatever happened in that appointment probably didn't even phase her

  • Hi there, Amanda! I just came across your videos tonight, and I wanted to thank you for your openness about sharing your feelings about experiences that you've had in your community, as well as in the hearing community.

    I've just started learning ASL last week — I currently work as a bilingual interpreter for the Spanish language, but languages are very important to me, and I am really fascinated by how (I seem to observe that) ASL is very much a concept / visual language. I had the opportunity to learn Japanese and Mandarin Chinese in high school, and I feel that when I watch someone sign a word, even though at this point I'm not sure what is going on yet, it's just as expressive as trying to read a symbol in Japanese or Chinese. Really neat stuff 🙂

    Something just crossed my mind that I wanted to ask — as a deaf person who can speak, does your head experience physical sensations that are uncomfortable when you are speaking? I started wondering if your head felt strong vibrations while speaking out loud, and if that occurs, is it unpleasant?

    I wondered this because I just thought of some times in the past when I've been sick and my ears were stopped up, and whenever I tried to speak it felt very muffled and shaky in my head. Not sure if that is something that would be at all similar, but I hope you don't mind my curiosity ^_^

    Thanks for making your videos, and I hope you have a great day!
    ~ Jen

  • Hi Amanda! Thank you for saying that. I myself want to be an interpreter and want to make things just a bit easier if I can. well a lot easier but I'll start out small. ^^ anyways I appreciate your video a lot. 🙂

  • *i agree with Krystal D, you need to let your deaf subscribers know if you are going to stop signing for yourself so they can switch to CC.

    *As a professional interpreter i am insulted that you think we do not follow the RID Code of Ethics to maintain EVERYTHING we interpret as confidential. If you had an interpreter breach confidentiality on your assignment then you need to report them so their certification or license can be pulled. You do have the right in most medical setting to request a specific interpreter or if you can understand the doctor well enough without one you have the right to ask the interpreter to leave if they are making you uncomfortable. If i see a former client on a public street i do not acknowledge them unless they have waved first, all part of that confidentiality thing.

    *Most professional theaters or large entertainment venues have their own contacts for interpreters you just need to give them 3-7 days notice depending on the area you live in. When i was working full time my schedule was always full 2-3 weeks in advance, that is just how it is if you want a good professional interpreter.

    *Cost of an interpreter. RID requires you have a bachelors degree in Sign Language Interpreting to even apply for the exam now. So you have the cost of 4 years of college then, Add the cost of the Certification preparation programs for the 3 sections of the exam, plus the retake fees cause none of this is a breeze to get through, then add the cost of each section of the test you want to take, not to mention the workshops and other activities you have to do to develop your skills to the level to pass the test and you have a pretty huge investment. In 2003 it cost me approximately $1,500 in fees for the interpreting and transliterating tests alone no preparation classes or anything, I believe now you are looking at closer to $5,000 in some parts of the US to do the same. Don't forget that Medical and Legal Interpreters are required to carry their own liability insurances, in my state some medical centers require the people they hire to carry 1 million dollars in liability insurance and that isn't cheap. One last thing, don't forget about travel time and special preparation time, gas/car insurance/ maintenance of a vehicle costs money. If i am going to prepare 3 songs for a 1 wedding ceremony or other" performance" my time had value.

  • Great video Amanda! You have better experience on interpreters. In my company, they wouldn't get interpreters for me because of cost so what I did is refused to go to the meetings.

  • Pro #3 is definitely me.. I'm not an interpreter at this time but after taking an asl course in college I fell in love with the language and learning about the community.. which led me to want to become an interpreter, so I will continue schooling for ASL… after class everyday I talked about class to my family and taught them new signs I learned

  • I love watch on you, so greatest I love it, ohh man, I am upset long story for deaf woman don't want me date,: I don't know anyway,,  I am single, my life since,  thank you for I watch all time,

  • You are not deaf…but you fine
    I love to be your BFF interpreter…
    I use to be an interpreter but now i am a bodybuilder…😁

  • Thanks for sharing your stories. New subscriber! What is your advice for new interpreters who are in really sensitive situations like that? I want to be an interpreter. Also, I have been in situations where my therapists or doctors have seen me in public and have been polite but will not acknowledge to anyone who I am, for confidentiality reasons. About the last minute on call stuff, yeah, life happens. A lot of people are good with going with the flow. I would asl sign throughout the entire vid as well, but I think talking and signing is HARD. LOL. Lastly, and NOT the least, companies and doctors and hospitals and schools need to suck it up. It's a requirement, not an alternative. This is one thing that really pisses me off.

  • I LOVED this. As a future interpreter, I want to know the issues and how to avoid them. Some of them are just simply unavoidable. I totally get it. Thank you though for your honesty and for sharing this information is such a positive way!

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