Category Archives: Sign Language Interpreting Services

Frequently Asked Questions About Certified Deaf Interpreters

certified-deaf-interpreter-nyc-faq-01Since the beginning of time, in all civilizations, it has been necessary for people who are deaf to take an active role as self-advocates. For this historically marginalized group, fighting for their rights (and the rights of others) has always been a matter of survival. There are times when the only person who can really understand a deaf individual is another person who is deaf. This is true when it comes to language skills, since not everyone uses formal American Sign Language, and it is also true when it comes to recognizing and navigating instances of institutional oppression.

Over the past couple decades, as the sign language interpreting profession has evolved, the interpreting community has come to better understand and embrace the role of deaf individuals as linguistic and cultural gatekeepers. Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) are extremely effective at bridging the sometimes vast and persistent gaps that exist between people who are deaf and those who can hear.

Deaf interpreters work alongside hearing ASL interpreters to ensure accurate communication between deaf individuals whose native language is visual. The deaf interpreter gathers and relays information to the deaf consumer(s) using specialized communication strategies, while partnering with a hearing interpreter to communicate information to and from any hearing parties.

What Types of Consumers Benefit From Working With CDIs?

certified-deaf-interpreter-nyc-faq-02Those who have been in traumatic situations, for example victims of assault or people who are deaf in the Emergency Room, might be best able to communicate through a deaf interpreter. In situations when a deaf individual is subject to police interrogation or asked to provide a statement, a deaf interpreter can offer the critical nuanced understanding that can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. There are some people who are deaf whose needs will best be met by a deaf interpreter in any medical setting or legal situation, since the outcomes here can deeply impact a person’s life.

Immigrants and other individuals whose first language is not ASL, or people who only know informal “home signs” can all benefit from working with a CDI. Those with language difficulties or intellectual disabilities might also better be served by a deaf interpreter. This is because the deaf interpreter will have a more intuitive understanding of signed language as a native user.

“Consumers usually are relieved to know they are able to freely express themselves in their native language without code switching. They also feel assured when they see me repeat their messages to my hearing interpreter team for voice interpretation. They see their original statement being relayed and this makes them trust the interpreting process a little more.” ~ Jason Trzebny, CDI, CLIP-R

“If you go back to the generations in your family, you would have seen or known deaf people historically had been each others’ gatekeepers with information gathering/exchange. This time we’re now giving the formal name and respect to CDIs as paid positions for their decades of devotion to ensuring anyone who is deaf can make informed decisions involving their lives. Therefore, any deaf person can benefit from having a deaf interpreter in all settings – News on TV, music, educational, court, business meetings, hospitals, filling out applications for jobs, car loans, insurance, VRS, weddings, funerals, mental health, social services, AA groups and so on!” ~ Marla Berkowitz, CDI

Communication Strategies Used by Deaf Interpreters

certified-medical-deaf-interpreter-nyc-faq-03To connect with deaf consumers, especially those who may have a language deficit for one reason or another, deaf interpreters will first interact with the person to familiarize with their language level and communication preferences. Through these preliminary interactions, the interpreter can assess if the deaf consumer has any unique cultural mannerisms, which can vary depending on factors like age, region, and educational background.
Deaf interpreters, like all interpreters, come to the assignment as prepared as possible, having reviewed the content and decided on the most effective strategies for relaying the information. They must be flexible in their approach, prepared to synthesize each bit of information to it’s most basic concept, and ready to rearrange the grammatical structure of the message to make better sense to the recipient. When necessary, deaf interpreters will employ the use of notes or drawing pictograms to gather information and ensure clarity.

“I will elaborate on key concepts that are important to the situation I’m interpreting in. For example, while interpreting the right to counsel in the Miranda Warning I will emphasis on ‘Anytime you can stop, now or later. If you feel you need help or unsure, you must say “I WANT a lawyer.” If you want a lawyer it does not mean you are guilty or not. Right now you fine that you have no lawyer here and still want to talk to the police?’. Some would argue that this is too much, but I say it’s part of cultural and language mediation.” ~ J.Trzebny

“Deaf interpreters make linguistic decisions about how to convey the intended message by using the consumer’s sign preferences, breaking down concepts that match their present world view, and/or utilize a lot of visual gestures (this is not the same as a pantomime because the integrity of facial and body language expression comes from the grammar).” ~ Regan Thibodeau, CDI, CLIP-R

Working as a Team with Hearing Interpreters

certified-legal-deaf-interpreter-nyc-faq-04The most important thing for hearing interpreters to consider is that not all CDIs are the same, therefore they will not all employ the same strategies or have the same communication preferences. To work most effectively as a team, hearing and deaf interpreters should meet before any assignment (if possible) to establish a rapport and discuss the best ways to meet everyone’s needs.

Hearing interpreters can use strategies such as Pidgin Signed English (PSE), which is a combination of English and ASL, to relay the speaker’s affect; for example anger or sarcasm. Hearing interpreters should be able to break the message down to it’s most important points. By communicating openly with the deaf interpreter, the hearing interpreter can learn their preferred language style, the amount of information they are able to intake at one time, and how the deaf interpreter envisions the information being organized. Communication is the key to success!

  1. Use simultaneous interpreting strategies with emphasis on majority of the concepts in English, if DI prefers.
  2. During simultaneous and/or consecutive interpreting, provide a chunk of information at a time (to be determined between deaf and hearing interpreters.)
  3. Provide environmental information (someone made an announcement that is not visible), the intentions/goals/intonations of the speakers, etc. which all are not visible to the deaf interpreter.
  4. certified-conference-deaf-interpreter-nyc-faq-05“Monitor and subtly feed information (correct, add, or modify as needed) deaf interpreters’ work to ensure the content is being understood and relay accurately.“
    ~ M. Berkowitz

“I seek their strengths and preferences and then I work with them instead of forcing them to go against themselves and we’ll be doing disservice to the customer. I can understand everything… So I must remain fluid and my ream must correct me if I miss or mess up so that the end result is the customer doing well. It’s not easy, and some [hearing interpreters] are terrific and some [aren’t]. They make or break me. The team must have flexibility, respect, honor, and trust to make it work.” ~ Ellen Roth, CDI, CLIP-R

What CDIs Want You to Know About Their Job

There are many different situations that call for deaf interpreters, and all deaf interpreters have different strengths. Deaf interpreters can effectively fill the knowledge and information gaps in nuanced discussions while improving the accuracy of the message as it is understood by the deaf individual. They can help to identify consumer strengths and weaknesses, background, and experience and then, from that place, help to filter through information.

certified-deaf-interpreter-nyc-faq-06Deaf interpreters are sensitive to the injustices faced by deaf individuals and marginalized communities. They have a cultural awareness that cultivates trust. Deaf interpreting has been documented since the 18th century, and is finally being professionally recognized as highly valuable in the field.

“CDI is great for translations like paperwork, contracts, videos, etc. [When it comes to] teaming, it’s a feat. Need more respect for all interpreters and CDIs.” ~ E. Roth

“I wish that more people would understand two things about us. 1) Deaf Interpreters can be for everyone, especially for deaf youth in any situation and specifically in the schools. 2) It is better to spend the money on a hearing-deaf interpreting team to get best results in a shorter amount of time. Often I get called in appointments later as a last resort option and quickly the situation is rectified. The latter method incur more costs from repeated meetings.” ~ R. Thibodeau

The unique position of the Deaf interpreter within the interpreting community is finally gaining the widespread recognition it deserves. CDIs can be a critical piece when attempting to fill the language and culture gaps between deaf and hearing parties, and their skills should be utilized to ensure accurate and effective communication. As people come to understand this, we all move one step closer to equal access.

Business Interpreting

asl-deaf-interpreting-agency-for-business-01Once you’ve hired a person who is deaf onto your staff, it’s important to provide the support they need to flourish at your company. Deaf employees offer their own unique perspectives and add strength to the overall team. By providing qualified ASL business interpreting, companies can give deaf employees the opportunity to contribute their skills and expertise to the workplace.

Picture yourself in a meeting with the company CEO, or at a staff training about new safety procedures: these are situations where communication is key! Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), organizations are required to provide deaf employees with reasonable accommodations, such as qualified interpreters, in situations like this where an interpreter appropriate. Business Interpreters possess a specialized skill set that allows them to effectively bridge the gap between deaf and hearing employees during presentations, lectures, meetings, staff development days, training sessions, and more!

Fluent in ASL and English Business Interpreting

asl-deaf-interpreter-for-business-02Business Interpreters understand that people take their careers very seriously, and that there is no room for miscommunication in a workplace environment. They are highly fluent in both American Sign Language and formal English. They are also able to accurately interpret common industry phrases, business lingo, and metaphors.

Business Background

business interpretingIt is important for Business Interpreters to feel comfortable in any size office or boardroom. A qualified interpreter will have experience within the business world and a thorough understanding of how the corporate structure works. Business Interpreters take the time to research each organization and come prepared with basic knowledge about their clients and consumers.

Professional Demeanor

When interpreting in a professional setting, a qualified Business Interpreter arrives with an appropriate attitude, level of respect, and clothing. The interpreter should know the roles of each party, and they are able to faithfully communicate messages in the same tone as the “speaker.” Business Interpreters want to contribute to the overall success of the deaf consumer and, thusly, the organization.

Cultural Educator

asl-deaf-interpreter-for-businesses-04In most businesses, deaf employees remain the minority, so other employees and managers might not know the best way to work collaboratively. A Business Interpreter can help fill those gaps in understanding. These interpreters will feel confident respectfully advocating for themselves or the deaf consumers if they feel they need to sit or stand in a specific spot to be most effective. They work to make the interaction smooth and successful for everyone involved.

LC Interpreting Service is pleased to provide qualified Business Interpreters in the Greater New York City area to meet a wide variety of business and corporate needs. We make the process for securing interpreters and providing equal access as simple as possible.

We also offer Cultural Competency Training. Learn how to hire, accommodate, and get the most out of working with deaf employees! Discover the many ways to meet the needs of deaf clients or customers. Contact LCIS today about cultural competency training for your business.

Film and Television Interpreting

entertainment-interpreting-deaf-asl-01Casting directors might shy away from deaf TV and film personalities because they simply don’t understand how to communicate, or perhaps they don’t understand that the benefits far outweigh any costs. But with audiences increasingly demanding diversity in the media and responding positively to shows that explore different cultural identities, entertainment outlets are starting to come around. At LC Interpreting Services, we make the process of hiring an on-set interpreter seamless and simple, while offering top quality communication access.

By providing access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, the majority hearing culture welcomes deaf individuals to participate in the humor, drama, and shared memories that TV and movies help create. Entertainment Interpreters assist in bridging the cultural gap by providing communication access on the sets of TV shows or talk shows and out in the field such as game shows and reality TV. These interpreters possess a specialized set of skills that enables them to accurately communicate in situations that are high-stakes and unpredictable.

Fluent in ASL and English

entertainment-interpreting-deaf-asl-02Basic fluency in the spoken and signed languages is a good start but qualified Entertainment Interpreters should be certified professionals with strong language skills and experience. They will also understand any relevant vocabulary and common industry phrases. Since most television interpreters work on sets, which can be unpredictable situations, it is important that an Entertainment Interpreter’s ASL/English skills are fast and effective.

Preparedness

In the ever-changing world of TV and movies, Entertainment Interpreters arrive to each assignment prepared by knowing the script and understanding the type of program or film entertainment-interpreting-deaf-asl-03they will be working on. For talk shows, interpreters will prepare by researching the guest they will be interpreting for that day. These interpreters are flexible with their time, understanding that a day may get cut short or run much longer than expected. They know their way around film and TV sets and feel comfortable interacting with producers, cast, and crew. Qualified Entertainment Interpreters know where to stand, when to interpret, and when to get out of the way.

Calm Under Pressure

entertainment-interpreting-deaf-asl-04Sometimes a script will have a last minute change, or something off the cuff will happen during a live broadcast, or delays create a time crunch or extended day. Qualified Entertainment Interpreters know the ins and outs of the industry and are able to professionally manage each assignment while still providing top quality services for deaf consumers.

Impartial

entertainment-interpreting-deaf-asl-05It is important for Entertainment Interpreters to reserve judgement and prevent their personal opinions from impacting service when potentially working with public figures in the entertainment industry. Interpreters must overcome preconceptions if they have any, which might include being “star struck!”

Educator

Entertainment Interpreters not only provide interpretation, but they effectively bridge the communication gap and help foster cultural understanding between deaf and hearing individuals on entertainment-interpreting-deaf-asl-06set. Working with a top quality interpreter for film or TV provides an opportunity to spread information beyond the cast and crew to wider audiences. When everyone is working together and comfortable in their roles, it comes through in the final product.

Some films and television programs want to utilize ASL or deafness as part of a scene or story, but aren’t sure how to do it in a culturally competent way. This is an example where a Deaf Director is the best option. A Deaf Director on set will work with cast members as ASL coaches to learn their part and to actually understand more about the language they are using.

LCIS is thrilled to offer Entertainment Interpreting services in the greater NYC area. From reality TV to sitcoms to talk shows and movie sets, our interpreters have the skill and experience provide equal access accommodation in any setting.

At LCIS, we believe that access to cultural arts and entertainment is a right, and we are proud to provide passionate, top quality interpreters for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing community. We have provided services for many venues including, but not limited to, the following:

Television
Bravo, Odd Mom out
Hulu, Difficult people
NBC, Blacklist
Nickelodeon, Nick News

Reality Television
The Food Network, Chopped
VH1, Blank Ink Crew

Talk Shows
ABC, The Chew
ABC, The View
CBS, Late show with Stephen Colbert
NBC, Late show with Jimmy Fallon
NBC, Late show with Conan O’Brien

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Conference Interpreting

deaf-equal-access-events-conferences-01Picture this: you’re attending a lecture from a highly respected professional in your field. The lecture was well publicized and draws a large regional or national audience. When this person takes the stage to speak, however, you can hardly understand a word they say. Your peers are jotting down notes and nodding their heads in agreement, but you feel completely lost. When the lecture ends, the other attendees all begin discussing the topics amongst themselves, but once again you are left out of the conversation.

This frustrating experience might be all to familiar for conference attendees who are deaf. Organizing a conference takes a great deal of preparation, but one thing that frequently gets overlooked is the quality of sign language interpreters. After investing months of energy into creating a successful event, it only makes sense to provide equal access for all individuals. When experts take the stage to address the audience, their precise message should be clear to everyone in attendance. When attendees are debating hot industry topics and building their networks, people who are deaf deserve reliable access to the conversations around them.

deaf-equal-access-events-conferences-02Providing qualified Platform Interpreters, also known as Conference Interpreters, helps ensure that people who are deaf can access and participate equally in organized events such as lectures, seminars, workshops, trainings, and professional development events. The services of these interpreters will be utilized during formal presentations, breakout sessions, and all social opportunities throughout the conference. High quality Platform Interpreters possess a skill set which enables them to accurately communicate the important and often specific information being presented in real-time.

Fluent in ASL/ English

 deaf-equal-access-events-conferences-03People around the world watched on television as the interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral signed nonsense to deaf South Africans. It was a very public example of an unfortunate problem. This type of service is unacceptable, and it is the responsibility of event organizers to make sure that deaf attendees get the quality of communication access that they deserve.

Basic fluency in the spoken and signed languages is a good start but, above and beyond that, qualified Conference Interpreters will be certified professionals with strong language skills and experience. They will also understand any topical vocabulary and common industry phrases. Since most conference interpreting happens simultaneously, meaning the interpreter is providing interpretation at the same time the message is being delivered, they must have a firm grasp of the overall message so they can follow along with the speakers.

Preparedness

deaf-equal-access-events-conferences-04Simultaneous interpreting can be a real challenge without sufficient preparation. To accurately represent both event speakers and deaf consumers, qualified Conference Interpreters will do their homework. They will research the mission of the organization and the intention of the event. They will learn the names of the presenters and a little bit about their background. A great Platform Interpreter will request conference documents, multimedia, and speakers notes in advance. They know the speaker’s motives and are able to faithfully deliver their message.

A high quality Conference Interpreter learns how the event will be set up and how the schedule is expected to flow before the interpreting assignment begins. They know the best place to sit or stand during each portion of the conference and will educate the organizers to be sure they are placed in such a way that deaf attendees have full access to the speaker, presentation, or group.

Multitasking

deaf-equal-access-events-conferences-05Conferences are whirlwind events which can overwhelm individuals who aren’t skilled at managing multiple tasks. Interpreters will be utilized during all the different presentations, breakout sessions, workshops, socializing, and networking possibilities

Qualified Conference Interpreters should be flexible, yet organized to meet the needs of deaf consumers. They are confident in their preparation, yet able to roll with the changes that are often inevitable in a large coordinated event.

Team Player

deaf-equal-access-events-conferences-06Depending on the length of the event, the type of event, and the number of deaf attendees present, interpreters will be working in a team of at least two, possibly more ASL interpreters. Supporting the team is one of the most important roles of a Conference Interpreter. Interpreters must communicate their needs while meeting the expectations of other interpreters and deaf consumers.

The interpreting team should be well-coordinated and always working together to ensure accurate and clear communication access.

Qualified Conference interpreters keep one another informed and on point. They will also advocate for the use of CDIs whenever appropriate.

Educator

deaf-equal-access-events-conferences-07Qualified Conference Interpreters will ensure they have adequate working conditions. This includes contacting the event organizer and letting them know the technical requirements or providing service. Interpreters should also be ready to educate hearing entities about the basic function of an ASL interpreter and how to work with one. In some instances, interpreters must advocate to be on stage, on camera, or near a presenter.

Sense of Boundaries

deaf-equal-access-events-conferences-08A good Platform Interpreter knows his or her limits and will not take on an assignment outside the scope of their skill set. Additionally, they will not accept an assignment where they feel a personal bias or ethical conflict might prevent them from effectively facilitating communication.

 

LC Interpreting Service is pleased to offer qualified Conference Interpreters in New York City for a wide variety or entertainment or professional events. We make the process for securing interpreters and providing equal access as simple as possible. LCIS offers quality services for deaf consumers with a strong emphasis on client satisfaction.

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References:

http://aiic.net/page/628/practical-guide-for-professional-conference-interpreters/lang/1

http://www.streetleverage.com/2011/07/conference-interpreting-there-are-rules-of-engagement/

http://www.streetleverage.com/2013/12/sign-language-interpreters-how-to-avoid-being-abandoned-at-the-microphone/

http://asnwonline.com/coordinating-interpreters-for-conferences/

 

 

The SNL Sign Language Mime and More ASL in Music

SIA-SNL-sia-chandelier-ASL-sign-language-1Last weekend, singer/songwriter Sia was accompanied by a noteworthy performer as she sang her hit “Chandelier” on Saturday Night Live. With his face painted white like a mime, the visual performer used a mix of expressive American Sign Language and interpretive gestures to bring Sia’s words to life. On one hand, it is refreshing to see musical interpreting on a show that has such a wide audience. But on the other hand, perhaps there are more inclusionary and culturally competent ways to incorporate elements of Deaf culture into pop music.

asl-in-music-depp-portman-2There is a fine line between showcasing the beauty of ASL, and utilizing sign language as a gimmick. Hearing artists often toe this line without even considering the opportunities that exist for better collaboration. To give an example, there was a bit of controversy surrounding the use of ASL in Paul McCartney’s “My Valentine” video. The simplistic black and white video features Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman, neither of whom are native ASL users, each facing the camera and signing lyrics. Deaf individuals were quick to notice a number of errors in the actors’ signing– including both Portman and Depp appearing to interpret “tampon” instead of “appear.” (Whoops!)

asl-in-music-paul-mccartney-3How did the music video for a world renowned artist, starring famous actors, get released with these fairly simple mistakes? In the end, accuracy took a back seat to aesthetics because McCartney’s video was not really intended to provide deaf people with access to his music. The use of ASL was merely an “artistic” choice; it was used to entertain hearing audiences.

asl-in-music-signmarkIf musicians want to truly connect with the Deaf community, there are plenty of ways to incorporate in Deaf voices into their work. Instead of hiring actors who are not fluent in the language to do ASL interpretation, creative directors could seek out some of the many talented deaf performers who are working hard to make a name for themselves.

asl-in-music-5First off, there are some truly incredible Deaf music artists out there. If a hearing performer wants to challenge themselves to be more inclusive, working with a deaf musician could be an enlightening experience. SignMark is a deaf Finnish rapper who signs his lyrics and tours with a vocal interpreter. In 2009, he became the first deaf person to sign a recording contract with an international record company. Sean Forbes is a deaf hip hop artist from Detroit, and the co-founder of the Deaf Professional Artists Network (D-PAN) which was created to “make asl-in-music-robbie-wilde-6music more accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.” D-PAN produces ASL music videos for popular songs, and works to connect deaf artists from all walks of life. Hearing musicians could learn a thing or two from people like percussionist Evelyn Glennie, That Deaf DJ Robbie Wilde, and deaf Jazz singer Mandy Harvey– people who never let deafness hold them back from pursuing their passions.

asl-in-music-7Music artists can work with deaf dancers, as Jamie xx did for his music video “Sleep Sound”. This approach underscores the fact that music can be unifying, yet everyone enjoys it their own unique way. British singer Ed Sheeran asked CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) actor Matthew Morgan to sign the lyrics for his music video “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” in British Sign Language. For lyrical artists, making your music videos or live performances deaf friendly is a great way to expand your audience.

asl-in-music-siaSign language is a cornerstone of Deaf culture, and deaf individuals are very proud of their silent communication. It’s likely Sia was well-intentioned when she had her interpreter dress as a mime, but any message of deaf empowerment becomes a bit muddied when presented with this deaf/mute stereotype. Her performance on SNL was not the first time Sia incorporated sign language into her music. In 2008, her video for “Soon We’ll Be Found” featured Sia, as well as a group of performers, using ASL, shadow puppets, and interpretive dance. According to the artist, “I’ve always been obsessed with the beauty of sign language… The real beauty is the communication hidden within these perfect shapes.”

SIA-SNL-sia-chandelier-ASL-mime-9ASL is visually captivating, so it’s no wonder hearing artists are fascinated by this deeply expressive language. It is important, however, for these performers to remember that ASL is a legitimate language, complete with a distinct vocabulary and set of grammar rules. American Sign Language is not arbitrary hand waving– each gesture, facial expression, and classifier impacts the overall meaning. The best way to ensure a performance is culturally competent, respectful, and tactful is to consult with deaf parties directly about their language and expectations.

Musical interpreting is a nuanced process that requires an intimate knowledge of the language. Deaf people who use ASL rely on a full interpretation; this means if you are truly creating for deaf audiences, ASL is not optional based on the whim of the artistic director, and it can’t be “close enough.” Consulting deaf people on set, behind the scenes, and throughout the creative process helps amplify deaf voices in mainstream media. Collaborating with deaf performers and artists opens the door for education and cultural understanding.

Educational Interpreting

Think 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… Continue Reading

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… Continue Reading

Bridging the Communication Gap in Your Own Family

This holiday season, try to imagine what it would be like if no one sitting around the dinner table took any interest in getting to know you. What if no one in your family asked about your life, or seemed to care how you were doing? Picture how the holidays would be different if you… Continue Reading

Deaf Interpreter Goes Viral

Last 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,… Continue Reading

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

If 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,… Continue Reading