Category Archives: ASL Interpreter NYC

Educational Interpreting

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-01Think back to a time when you were in school– was there a certain class you struggled with? Now try to imagine how challenging that class would be if it was taught in a foreign language. For deaf students in mainstream education settings, this situation might describe a typical day at school. To help deaf students receive the educational opportunities they deserve, schools can enlist the services of specially trained Educational Interpreters.

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-02At least 83% of deaf/ hard of hearing children in the United States are enrolled in public schools, according to a 1999 US Department of Education report. To help deaf students adapt to mainstream classrooms, some accommodations must be made. Accommodations for deaf students depend on the needs of each individual. Typical accommodations include: closed captioning class materials, offering alternative testing environments, providing a note taker, and supplying an interpreter. As the number of deaf students in mainstream schools has increased, it is more important than ever that educators, parents, and administrators understand the value of these services.

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-03Hiring qualified Educational Interpreters is one necessary step to providing communication access for students who use American Sign Language (ASL). Interpreters might be used for lessons, lectures, assemblies, field trips, daily socializing, meetings, tutoring sessions, after school events, and more. Sign language interpreting is a very diverse field, and not all interpreters are created equal . Since Educational Interpreters assume a number of roles in the classroom, the quality of the interpreters’ work is sure to impact deaf students. Hiring an inexperienced or inadequate interpreter puts deaf student’s education in jeopardy. A high quality educational interpreter possesses a unique skill set.

Fluency

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-04First and foremost, it is a sign language interpreter’s job to facilitate access to spoken information and conversations. Educational interpreters must have a particularly high level of fluency in both English and ASL. Because each deaf student has different needs, interpreters should be carefully matched with clients by skill and experience. If an interpreter does not have impeccable language skills, they will not be able to provide the quality of service that deaf students are entitled to.

Understanding

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-05Interpreting in a second grade classroom is quite different from interpreting a graduate-level chemistry course! A good interpreter will read the materials, know any special vocabulary terms, and come prepared for every lesson. Communication between the instructor and the interpreter helps to keep things running smoothly. Understanding the content is critical, but understanding the students is equally important. Young children don’t speak, act, or learn the same way adults do. Interpreters must be prepared to work with their consumer– whether it’s a mischievous middle schooler, or a frustrated adult taking his first math class in 20 years.

Culture Fit

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-06Beyond navigating the nuanced social structure of the classroom, educational interpreters should also be familiar with the workplace culture that exists within schools. They collaborate with educators and staff to foster a positive educational and social experience for deaf students. A qualified interpreter will have a basic understanding of how educational institutions function, and the roles of various school administrators. This allows the interpreter to work most efficiently within the existing framework and provide consumers with a seamless experience.

Personality

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-07Like teachers, ASL interpreters become influential to their students. The ability to connect with people and empathize helps educational interpreters to succeed. These interpreters should exhibit patience, strong multi-tasking skills, and a willingness to explain new, potentially complex topics. Interpreters who work with young students should be prepared to act as a role model, both socially and in terms of language skills. For example, a deaf child (like any other child) is unlikely to know specific science terminologies before they are taught them in class. Qualified educational interpreters must know how to accurately translate the lesson while providing a sense of context and understanding.

Advocate for Resources

asl-interpreter-in-mainstream-classrooms While an interpreter is one excellent accommodation for students who use ASL, it is not the only accommodation these students require. Adding multimedia to lectures and classwork has been shown to significantly increase deaf students’ comprehension. Since deaf people are visual learners, including pictures and videos along with written materials really makes a difference. As new technologies emerge, there are an increasing number of ways to supplement classroom learning. Qualified Educational Interpreters recognize the needs of their consumers and assist educators to identify additional resources to help these students excel.

Social Ethics

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-09Sometimes, Educational Interpreters struggle with the feeling that their services are not “good enough” in a social sense, wishing that they could provide students with a truly equal experience. In schools, particularly K-12, there are a lot of social dynamics at play. Because interpreters are adults, kids might get nervous and behave differently around them. If students are using an interpreter to interact, they might not feel comfortable speaking their mind about certain topics, or saying things they might normally say, such as swear words. Qualified Educational Interpreters engage in continuous professional development and seek ethical solutions to these types of problems.

Ally

asl-interpreters-in-classrooms-10In our hearing world, deaf children are more limited by other people’s perceptions than by their actual deafness. From the time they are diagnosed with hearing loss, these kids and their parents are confronted with all the things they “can’t” do. Educational Interpreters must reinforce a “Yes I Can” attitude by empowering both deaf students and hearing parties to focus on the capabilities of deaf individuals. By working together, parents, teachers, and interpreters can identify the strengths of deaf students, emphasize successes, and present deaf role models. Interpreters can help deaf students and their families connect with the larger Deaf community, this can open the door for children to make deaf friends and gain self-confidence. They can also direct school personnel toward the resources they need to better serve deaf students.

When it comes to providing Educational Interpreters, the importance of quality can not be emphasized enough. If inadequate interpreters are provided, the people who suffer the consequences are deaf students. At LC Interpreting Services, all interpreters are screened to determine their skills and experience, then carefully matched with each consumer. Placing interpreters in the correct setting allows them to maximize their skill set and provide the best possible level of service.

Resources

2014: Deaf Culture Totally Had a Moment

This past year was a very visible one for Deaf Culture and American Sign Language. From viral videos to late night TV appearances, mainstream audiences just couldn’t get enough of Deaf superstars or their fascinating visual language. As we leave 2014, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable Deaf pop culture moments of this year, and hope that 2015 brings even more awareness!

claire-koch-youtube20. KODA Signs Holiday Concert for Deaf Parents:

Okay, technically this happened in December 2013, but it’s so cute I couldn’t leave it out! Kindergartener Claire Koch decided to use ASL at her school holiday concert to make sure her Deaf family members could enjoy the performance, and it was adorable. So adorable, that the video her mother posted went viral with over 8 million views to date!

studiofeed-music-backpack-0219. New Technologies Present New Possibilities:

Each year, new technologies emerge which attempt to simplify and improve the lives of deaf individuals. A number of companies are working on different sign-to-speech translation solutions; while others are taking creative approaches to speech-to-text. One of my favorite ideas of 2014 is the StudioFeed music backpack, which turns music into a full body experience.

atlanta_pride_david_cowan18. Deaf Interpreter demonstrates what equal access really looks like at Atlanta PRIDE:

Deaf interpreter David Cowan is a known favorite among Deaf LBGT individuals for his expressive and appropriately flamboyant work each year at Atlanta PRIDE. Across the country, PRIDE festivals tout themselves as all-inclusive events. Hiring a Deaf Interpreter that deaf/HoH audiences adore is a beautiful example of equality.

santa-claus-speaking-in-asl17. People in Costumes Using ASL with Kids:

From mall Santas to baseball mascots— the people behind the characters have been doing their diversity homework! This year, there were a number of heartwarming stories and videos featuring deaf children who are overjoyed to discover that their favorite characters can communicate with them using ASL. Learning even a few simple phrases can help deaf kids feel included!

 

nick_news_with_linda_ellerbee-now-hear-this-0516. “Now Hear This” Premiers on Nickelodeon

It was pretty inspiring to see a children’s television network take a genuine interest in Deaf Culture. This Nick News special focused on the lives of several deaf young people across the country, and showcased how there are many different ways to be a deaf person in a hearing world.

jonathan-lamberton-asl-nyc-ebloa-press-conference-0615. Deaf Interpreter goes Viral After NYC Ebola Press Conference

As Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered critical information to the citizens of New York regarding the Ebola virus, Deaf Interpreter Jonathan Lamberton addressed the deaf population. Many hearing individuals were fascinated by Lamberton’s dramatic signing style, as it was the first time they had ever seen a Deaf Interpreter in action.

fargo-deaf-character-asl14. Popular TV Show “Fargo” Casts a Deaf Character who Uses ASL:

When creating characters for the FX series Fargo (based on the Coen brother’s film), the show’s creators decided to stray from the usual formula by writing a deaf character into the story. The character, played by actor Russell Harvard, is not included in the show to address deaf issues or explore Deaf culture; he is simply a normal character who happens to be deaf. Hopefully other programs will follow suit, as there are many talented deaf actors out there and all audiences deserve to see more diversity on screen!

derrick-coleman-deaf-athlete-pro-sports-0813. Deaf Athletes in Professional Sports:

Seattle Seahawks player Derrick Coleman gained superstar status not only for his impressive athleticism, but because he proved that deafness does not have to be a barrier in professional sports. Coaches and scouts have taken note, and are now offering more deaf athletes the opportunities they deserve.

robert-panara-deaf-pioneer12. Deaf Pioneers Leave Their Legacy:

Legendary Phyllis Frelich was the inspiration for, and the original star of, “Children of a Lesser God,” a revolutionary piece which introduced audiences to a complex, nuanced deaf character in a lead role. It won a Tony award for best play, and was later adapted into a film which won Marlee Matlin an Oscar. Frelich passed away this year, but her groundbreaking work has inspired and paved the way for generations of deaf performers to come.
In 2014, we also lost professor, writer, and poet Robert Panara. Panara helped translate classic works of literature into ASL, and was instrumental in the establishment of deaf studies higher education curriculum.

violations-of-deaf-citizens-rights11. Violations of Deaf Citizens Rights Gain Mainstream Attention:

The tragic and deplorable treatment of deaf/HoH individuals by the criminal justice system is finally being exposed, thanks to the information age. Stories about deaf people being beaten by cops, wrongfully convicted, and abused in jail were widely read and shared across the internet; leading to an increase in awareness and outrage. While this is not exactly a victory, and certainly not cause for celebration, it has provided visibility to a very real problem and strengthened advocacy efforts.

aclu-heard-know-your-rights-videos10. Marlee Matlin partners with ACLU and HEARD for #KnowYourRights videos:

To help deaf citizens better understand and protect their legal rights, award-winning Deaf actress Marlee Matlin teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union and Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf to create a series of videos. The videos represent a larger movement within the Deaf community for self-empowerment through education. The internet amplifies the power of minority voices, exposes injustice, and provides resources for assertive self advocacy!

MARK-VILLAVER-MOM-DANCE-BATTLE-deaf-129. Professional Dancer and His Deaf Mother Prove Music is for EVERYONE!

Mark Villaver, a hearing dancer, and his Deaf mother share their love of music and dancing in one of the most FUN videos of 2014! Some people mistakenly think deaf people can’t enjoy music. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

fcc-new-captioning-rules8. FCC Cracks Down on Captioning:

The internet has come to the forefront of the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, closed captioning was often neglected when providers made the technology leap; leaving deaf individuals without online access to programming. In 2014 deadlines were set which require providers to caption all shows and video clips, and guidelines were established to guarantee the quality of captions. Over the next few years, we will see all major video content providers moving toward accessibility. Additionally, airlines and other places of public accommodation are feeling increased pressure to provide equal access for deaf patrons.

deaf-med-student-wins-legal-battle-147. Deaf Med Student Wins Legal Battle

After a lengthy court battle, it was determined that devoted deaf med students have the same right to attend medical school as hearing students. We call this a 2014 victory. Hopefully this will lead to more hardworking deaf young people pursuing careers in the medical field.

the-tribe-deaf-movie-in-asl

6. “The Tribe” Indie Film About Deaf Students Wins Over Critics:

The film, which is all sign language without subtitles, was critically acclaimed at Cannes and has won a number of prestigious awards. The lack of captions serves to alienate hearing viewers– who are accustomed to the privilege of communication access– yet the film is engaging enough to keep all audiences along for the ride.

signs-deaf-restaurant-concept-toronto5. Signs Restaurant Opens in Toronto:

This fun concept for a restaurant creates a comfortable place for deaf diners; provides jobs for deaf food industry workers; and helps hearing people get a “taste” of what it’s like to be on the other side of the language barrier. The success of this endeavor may open the door for future deaf-focused businesses.

text-to-911-equal-access-deaf-hoh4. Text to 911 Rolls Out:

On August 8, 2014 the FCC adopted an order requiring wireless carriers and other text messaging providers to deliver emergency texts to 911 call centers. Equal access to emergency services was long overdue!

asl-rap-battle-jimmy-kimmel-live-173. ASL Rap Battle On Jimmy Kimmel Live:

This video instantly went viral because both deaf and hearing audiences love watching expressive ASL paired with hip hop beats. Sign language lends itself so well to the poetry and rhythm of raps. The two incredible interpreters skillfully turned spoken word into visual language, and Deaf performer Jo Rose Benfield wowed people with her enthusiastic interpretations.

deaf-super-heroes-a2. Deaf Superheroes Demonstrate the Power of Diversity:

Throughout pop culture history, superheroes have struggled against the odds to save the day. Until recently, however, superheroes have been notoriously privileged individuals— white and able-bodied— deaf-super-heroes-bwith very few deviations from the norm. In 2014, we saw diversity creeping into the fantasy world of good and evil when audiences were introduced to Deaf superheroes like Blue Ear and Superdeafy. These fictional heroes provide real life role models for Deaf children, demonstrating that deafness is only a minor obstacle to overcome on the way to greatness.

 

camp-mark-seven-happy1. Camp Mark Seven Goes Viral with “Happy” video:

If you haven’t seen this amazing upbeat video online, you must be living under a rock! Camp Mark Seven Deaf Film Camp  nearly broke the internet with their cheerful ASL rendition of Pharrell Williams smash hit “Happy.” Camp Mark Seven teaches young deaf filmmakers how to write, direct, and produce their own films; which helps integrate more deaf voices in pop culture and Hollywood. The video has millions of views online and made people all across America stop and smile. Haven’t seen it?Well what are you waiting for… Get Happy !

2014 was an impressive year for deafness in the media, and these are only a few of the many pop culture moments! Of course we still have a long way to go, but when Deaf Culture becomes more visible, Deaf issues start getting the attention they deserve. By amplifying the voices of the community, and highlighting the accomplishments of deaf individuals, we can help the world see that deafness is not a barrier– merely a small obstacle on the way to greatness!

Have a safe and happy New Year!

If you are interested in learning about Deaf culture and American Sign Language, I have extended a special deal on ASL training. From now until JANUARY 7, schedule 3 personal ASL lessons for only $150. Learn on your own time, at your own convenience. We can meet in person in NYC or via video chat. No matter what level your skills are, from beginner to fluency, we can work together to discover the beautiful silent world of ASL!

Deaf Interpreter Goes Viral

lamberton-deblasio-ebola-press-conference-aslLast week, Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the citizens of New York to discuss the city’s first confirmed case of Ebola. During the press conference the mayor’s ASL interpreter, Jonathan Lamberton, gained a bit of attention on the Internet. Most of the commentary centered around Lamberton’s expressiveness, which is actually just part of sign language, but missed the most compelling aspect of this particular interpreter: he is Deaf.

For hearing people who do not have any experience with Deaf culture, it might be hard to understand how Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI) are used, and why they are necessary. In this instance, the CDI was working as a team with a hearing interpreter who sat in the audience. The hearing interpreter was signing the message to Lamberton, who was interpreting it on camera. But why have two interpreters?

asl-interpreter-nycNew York City is truly a melting pot with people of all ethnic backgrounds, education levels, and ability. In times when peoples’ health or lives might be in danger, communication becomes absolutely critical. There is no room for miscommunication when state officials are addressing the public safety.

Utilizing an interpreter whose native language is ASL can be a good match when your audience is unknown. While a high quality hearing interpreter may be able to do a great job, a CDI has the ability to reach ASL users on every level. This ensures that the message is conveyed to a broad audience.

lydia-callis-asl-bloomberg-press-conferenceDeaf people who use sign language to communicate may read and write English quite well; or they may not know English at all. Many deaf people have excellent ASL skills, while others only know informal sign languages called “home signs.” Additionally, in a large city like New York there is a whole audience of foreign born deaf people for whom ASL is a second language.

Deaf interpreters come from a background of visual language, so they are able to “let go” of the English form more easily. Because sign language is their native language, deaf interpreters can communicate with deaf consumers on a level that other interpreters just may not be able to get to. CDIs tend to be more intuitive when it comes to foreign sign languages, informal signs, and translating cross cultural messages.

american-sign-language-interpreter-04Imagine you’re an older person who immigrated here from Cambodia at a time when that country did not have any official sign language. The language you’ve used your whole life is a combination of signs and gestures which does not correlate in any way to ASL. A hearing sign language interpreter might have a very challenging time interpreting your doctor’s appointment, finding it difficult to explain technical terms in a way you understand. Our ethical obligation as interpreters is to ensure the deaf consumer receives the service they deserve. This is one example where a CDI could be called in.

doctor-patient-asl-communicationDelivering health and safety information is an important role, not an entertainment event. It puts a lot of pressure on ASL interpreters when their performance is judged not only by deaf consumers, but by hearing audiences who have little understanding of the job at hand.

obama-with-asl-interpreterDuring the press conference, one Twitter user claimed that everyone around him thought the interpreter was “faking it” like the infamous Nelson Mandela memorial interpreter. Other hearing commenters critiqued the deaf interpreter’s signing style, as if he was putting on a show for them. When an interpreter’s signing does not match the speaker’s vocalizations, or the signing is very passionate, it does not mean the interpreter is making up a language or just acting. Sign language interpreters exist to serve the needs of deaf consumers in the best and most ethical way they are able.

american-sign-languageIt’s wonderful when sign language gets so much Internet attention, because it provides new opportunities for mainstream society to become educated about Deaf culture. I think it is important that when general audiences to see ASL interpreters in the media, they understand the true the function we serve.

Working with Sign Language Interpreters: The DOs and DON’Ts

deaf-interpreter-faq-nycIf you do not regularly work with sign language interpreters, you may not know that there are certain rules and expectations. To get the most out of having an ASL interpreter present, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about what exactly an interpreter does, and how they facilitate communication. To avoid complicating the conversation, making the interaction uncomfortable, or even offending the Deaf individual, here are some basic guidelines to follow:

1.) DO: Research how to interact with a Deaf person; with and without an interpreter.
DON’T: Come to the meeting without any knowledge about deafness or Deaf communication.

2.) DO: Provide the interpreter as much information as possible, as far in advance as possible. This helps the interpreter be prepared and alert you to any potential ethical conflicts.
DON’T: Leave out important details about the assignment.

deaf-interpreter-faq-nyc3.) DO: Use the interpreter to engage deaf individuals in conversation. Remember– interpreters are there to facilitate a deaf/hearing interaction.
DON’T: Talk to the interpreter like the deaf person isn’t there.

3.) DO: Address the deaf person directly, using singular phrases. This is the person you are having a conversation with.
DON’T: Talk to the deaf person in the third person. The interpreter is interpreting exactly what you say. Saying “tell him/her…” just confuses the message.

5.) DO: Ask the deaf person to explain how the interpreting process works.
DON’T: Ask the interpreter about their job.

deaf-interpreter-faq-nyc-36.) DO: Talk directly to the deaf person and make respectful eye contact.
DON’T: Stare at the interpreter while having a conversation with a deaf person.

7.) DO: Ask the deaf person how to sign something if you are curious.
DON’T: Say obscene things to watch how the interpreter signs it.

8.) DO: Make sure your message is clear so the interpreter can communicate it.
DON’T: Speak to the deaf person like they are uneducated.

9.) DO: Be friendly to the interpreter, and utilize his/her professional services to speak with the deaf individual.
DON’T: Try to befriend the interpreter.

10.) DO: Plan for the interpreter to sit or stand near the person who will be speaking the most.
DON’T: Try to sit the interpreter next to the deaf individual, or put the interpreter behind other people. Deaf people need to actually see everything the interpreter does.

lydia-callis-interpreting-2014-nyc11.) DO: Speak as clearly as possible.
DON’T: Mumble, shout, or over-enunciate words thinking this will help the interpreter.

12.) DO: Ask the deaf person to explain something if you do not understand it.
DON’T: Ask the interpreter to explain what the deaf person means, cutting the deaf person out of the conversation.

13.) DO: Use sign language if you know ASL and it is appropriate.
DON’T: Start signing the alphabet, finger spelling, or signing random words when the interpreter is right there to facilitate communication.

14.) DO: Feel confident using an interpreter for private conversations.
DON’T: Worry that the interpreter can not be trusted. RID Certified interpreters are held to a professional code of conduct, which emphasizes ethics and client confidentiality.

15.) DO: Understand that although ASL interpreters aim to provide objective interpretations, they are Deaf culture allies and will advocate for the deaf client as needed.
DON’T: Ask interpreters for their personal opinions, ask them not to interpret something you said, or expect the interpreter to overlook any acts they view as oppressive toward the deaf consumer.

16.) DO: Be present and pay attention to the deaf person with whom you are communicating.
DON’T: Look at other people, at your phone, or out the window during conversation.

deaf-interpreter-faq-nyc17.) DO: Hire a professional, competent interpreter who has the appropriate credentials and background to facilitate effective communication. Look for Deaf or sign language interpreter owned agencies that specialize in deaf communication.
DON’T: Hire any interpreter you can find without doing any research on the agency that they work for.

18.) DO: Take an interest in Deaf culture and deafness. There is a wealth of information available on this topic– read some of the many books or articles that are available.
DON’T: Simply expect deaf people or sign language interpreters will take time out of their busy day to provide basic cultural education.

19.) DO: Know it may be your legal responsibility to cover the costs, as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act
DON’T: Expect the Deaf person to pay for the interpreter out of pocket

20.) DO: Learn what types of situations ASL interpreters are required for, and how to hire a high quality interpreter.
DON’T: Deny deaf people equal access to communication in your business, organization, or establishment.

If you are seeking a professional sign language interpreter in the New York City area, contact LCIS for a consultation. Coming from three generations of Deaf family members, I understand the true value of a culturally competent interpreter. My services emphasize the satisfaction of deaf consumers, and bridging the communication gap between the deaf and hearing worlds.

Deafness is Not One Size Fits All

nick_news_with_linda_ellerbeeThe pediatrician just informed you that your child is profoundly deaf.

What is deafness like?

How does deafness impact a person’s life? What will you do now? Your answers to these questions will depend on personal experience. If you have connections to Deaf culture, you may feel very differently than someone who has never had interacted with a deaf person. Though we live in the Information Age, mainstream society still understands very little about what it means to be deaf.

This week, Nick News with Linda Ellerbee premiered an episode titled “Now Hear This!” (watch the full episode HERE ) The show does a great job exploring the spectrum of deafness, and demystifying the deaf experience by telling the stories of 5 deaf young people. The children’s’ experiences are vastly diverse, and touch on a number of issues from deaf education methods to family dynamics. The overall message is that, like any of us, deaf children have individual needs. Despite what some may claim, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for being deaf!

Scochlear-implant-graphicome families choose to assimilate their child to a hearing lifestyle by implanting a device called a cochlear implant into the skull, which stimulates the auditory nerve and allow the brain to “hear.” Sammy is a CI recipient from a hearing family who jokingly refers to herself as “part robot.” She was not born deaf, but her hearing deteriorated throughout childhood and, at 12 years old, she made the choice to have CI surgery. According to Sammy, her parents presented the pros and cons, and she strongly feels a CI was the right choice for her. She attends school with all other hearing students and plays on a basketball team, insisting she doesn’t need to know ASL because she can hear. Cici also comes from a hearing family, she lost her hearing as a baby. Her parents elected to send her to a school for deaf children that focuses on teaching English and oral communication, so she never learned any ASL. At 5 years old she received her CI. “It was hard to learn to speak,” she says, but she feels very grateful that she did because it allows her to communicate with her family and non-deaf friends. Cici is a ballet and tap dancer who feels that deafness is a disability that her CI and hearing aid help her overcome.

Restored Hearing - Cochlear ImplantAlthough the first instinct of a hearing parent might be to “fix” their “disabled” child through technology, they should first explore the many perspectives about deafness. Yes, cochlear implants and hearing aids work great for some people, but every person is different and everyone learns differently. In the show, CiCi says she loves her CI, but acknowledges how difficult it was to learn spoken English. Imagine having dyslexia– or any common learning disability– and being forced to learn a challenging foreign language. Though Cochlear Implants or oral English education do work for many, it’s unfair to assume that all deaf children have the same capabilities.

asl-interpreter-services-nycOther families choose American Sign Language for their deaf child. Isabella was born deaf and grew up in an all-ASL family, with two deaf parents and one hearing sister. She discusses education at her Deaf school, playing soccer on a hearing team, and having fierce Deaf pride! Isabella does not view deafness as a disability in any way, and she loves the language of her family. Arbab is a young man from a hearing family, who became deaf as an infant. In Pakistan, he would not have had educational opportunities, so his family immigrated to the US to ensure a better life. Arbab’s family does not use ASL and he does feel isolated from them, but he absolutely loves attending asl-interpreter-services-nyDeaf school where he signs freely with his peers. He uses technology, such as texting or video chat, to contact his friends when he is feeling lonely. Kaylee is the only deaf person in her entire town but, when she was in preschool, school administrators decided to add ASL to the curriculum for her whole class. The hearing kids all learned sign language, and use it throughout the school day to make sure Kaylee feels included. “My hearing friends sign to me, they are very fluent,” she says, “when my hearing friends don’t sign to me, then I feel alone.” She and her hearing friends love ASL and have made it their goal to spread Deaf awareness by volunteering to teach ASL to children.

private-ASL-lessons-nyAs a parent, it is your responsibility to become educated about your child; to engage and develop a relationship with them. Learn about deafness, and Deaf culture. Discover all the options available before making any major life decisions. Deaf children, like hearing children, have limitations, and areas where they excel. Instead of dictating how young deaf people should live their lives, parents can work together with their child to find the most comfortable way of adapting. This solution may not always be what the parent initially expected, and that’s ok! Holding on to strict expectations for any child– deaf or hearing– is unfair. Every person and their circumstances are unique!

“Now Hear This!” explores a spectrum of deafness, language use, and the various strategies deaf people use to communicate. We get a glimpse of how deaf people fit into different families, and how much parental choices can impact the course of a child’s life. Most importantly, the program presents 5 well-adjusted young people doing the best they can to learn new things, make new friends, and be understood “in a hearing world that doesn’t listen.”

How Do I Know What Interpreting Agency to Work For?

Last year, audiences watched in disbelief as the South African sign language interpreter for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service earned the nickname “the fake interpreter.” Insulted, but not entirely surprised, the global deaf community used this public example to bring attention to an unfortunately common problem. The agencies which provide interpreters, even for large televised events,… Continue Reading

Can Digital Devices Replace Interpreters?

While walking the streets of New York, nearly every person I see is staring down at a screen, fully engaged with digital devices. Through technology, our world has become incredibly connected; yet disconnected at the same time. There is comfort in being able to communicate without regard to time or distance but, somehow all this… Continue Reading

Inclusion For All

New York City has so many incredible Summer street festivals, art exhibits, and cultural events to enjoy. Now, imagine how many shows you would go to if you had to contact the event organizers weeks in advance, explain that you need special accommodations, and possibly even explain how to secure those resources. This is the… Continue Reading

Creating Deaf Accessibility In The Workplace 

When interviewing for a job, you only get one chance at a good first impression. You try to wear the right clothes, mentally prepare, and hope you have all the right answers. But what if none of that mattered? What if you didn’t get the job because of the color of your eyes? Or because… Continue Reading

ASL Goes Viral

Last week, Jimmy Kimmel hosted a “sign language rap battle” where two interpreters and deaf entertainer named Jo Rose Benfield each delivered their live interpretation of a Wiz Khalifa song. The video has nearly a million views on YouTube and was featured on many prominent sites across the web– further proving that pop culture is ready to embrace deaf… Continue Reading