Tag Archives: ASL Agency

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

Request Services

 

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.

How to hire a Sign Language Interpreter

Imagine you are hosting an event and a deaf individual approaches you, inquiring about deaf/ hard of hearing accommodations. This happens every day, in a variety of venues, in both the public and private sector. What do you do? How do you communicate? Had you even considered this situation?

One of the biggest barriers between Deaf and hearing cultures is the simple act of requesting an interpreter. Many hearing individuals, as discussed in my previous post, have very little interaction with deaf/ HoH people in their daily lives. When they do encounter someone who requires accommodation, it can feel like a challenge to locate the proper resources. Even more challenging, but equally important, is ensuring you find a high-caliber ASL interpreter for the event.

asl-culture-nycThe first step in hiring a sign language interpreter is seeking out a local agency which specializes in ASL. I strongly advise looking for a Deaf-owned, or interpreter-owned provider. Here in NYC, there are some large agencies which hire out interpreters for a variety of languages. Sadly, these businesses often add ASL to their roster to make more money; with little regard for Deaf culture, or the quality of interpreter they provide. A Deaf-owned or interpreter-owned agency will have the best resources to ensure all your deaf/HoH patrons receive the same experience as your hearing patrons. Equality is the ultimate goal!

When you call the agency, be as specific as possible regarding your interpreting needs. Letting the agency know exactly which type of situation they will how-to-hire-an-asl-interpreterbe accommodating helps to better match you with a qualified interpreter. For example, in a hospital setting, it would be advantageous to hire an interpreter who could not only communicate with both doctors and patients, but one who is also emotionally and mentally prepared to deliver medical news to a patient’s family. If you are able to provide the agency with as much information as possible prior to your event, they can find an interpreter with some background in the field, and allow them to brush up on relevant terminology. A provider who is knowledgeable requires much less preparation, and is capable of providing a much richer interaction.

A professional interpreter will know exactly what to do when they arrive on the job. They will ask appropriate questions regarding standing and seating arrangements, and will request any pertinent info prior to the start of your event. It is a great idea to have an outline ready for your ASL interpreter, which would have key topics, any industry-specific jargon, and a list of important names, places, or figures.

The Federal Government provides financial assistance for businesses to provide deaf/ hard of hearing accommodation. asl-public-interpreterThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that equal access be provided to persons with disabilities by all public entities (government offices, public schools, etc.) and by all services which are provided to the public at large (doctor’s offices, lawyers, etc.). Generally, this means that such entities are required to pay for sign language interpreting services. To assist businesses with complying with the ADA, Section 44 of the IRS Code allows a tax credit for small businesses and Section 190 of the IRS Code allows a tax deduction for all businesses. This credit can cover 50% of the eligible access expenditures in a year (up to $10,250).

While provisions may be required by law, it is up to you whether your Deaf/ hard of hearing patron will receive the same quality of service you offer your hearing patrons. It is prudent to find an interpreter with more than just the national certification. Strong background knowledge, diverse field experience, and cultural competence will go a long way in providing equal accommodations, and curbing the oppression of deaf/HoH individuals.

Currently, in the greater New York City area, there is one Deaf-owned and four interpreter-owned providers, including myself. For more information about my interpreting services, please contact me.