Tag Archives: sign language interpreter

Holidays without a voice

Right now, New York City is positively radiant with the bright lights of the holiday season! This time of year, many people travel great lengths, just to share food and laughter with their loved ones. For some families, though, the greatest distance is not a physical one. It is the barrier of communication.

 

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The gift of understanding is one of the greatest gifts you can give your deaf or hard of hearing family member. Imagine you are sitting at a table full of people you’ve known your whole life, but you are not able to talk to them, or follow their conversations. Imagine you are not able to participate in the story-telling, or the memory sharing, or any of the fun gossiping which we cherish so much about these gatherings.

Imagine how much difference an interpreter would make! How wonderful it would be, to have someone else take the intensive work out of relaying conversation, so that the whole family can feel relaxed and included.

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Providing your deaf or hard of hearing family members with a professional interpreter is an extra consideration that goes a long way. It breaks my heart to hear about people feeling left out of their own families because of a difference in language. In the modern age, a time when we are so caught up in the many means of socializing, it’s tragic that the most intimate gatherings cannot be thoroughly enjoyed by all.

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Beyond hiring an interpreter for family events, actually learning ASL is the gift that keeps on giving. Imagine the joy on your deaf family members’ face when you begin signing to them! Surely, it will be a treat for everyone if you step out of your comfort zone to break through the silence, and your deaf family member will certainly not be judging you for trying. In fact, you’d be surprised how bonding this experience can be!

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When planning your get-togethers, look for a competent interpreter for your deaf or hard of hearing guests. If you have deaf family members, please think about how meaningful your efforts to truly converse with them will be. Treat yourself, or your whole family, to ASL lessons. Don’t let another year go by where your deaf friends and family members can’t share in the jokes, the conversation, and the trips down memory lane we so affectionately associate with the holidays.

The Silver Lining of a Hurricane

Since being on national television, I have received so much unexpected attention! Attention from the media, from my friends, from total strangers– it’s very flattering, if not a bit overwhelming! Of course, the first thing people want to ask about is my experience interpreting Mayor Bloomberg.

Let me say, first and foremost, that the opportunity to serve New York City’s deaf and hard of hearing community hurricane-sandy-nyc-aslduring a time of crisis was one of the highest honors I have ever achieved. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, I had worked a number of jobs underneath the mayor’s office, but had never worked with Mr. Bloomberg directly. When disaster hit, the agency I work for selected me to be on Bloomberg’s team of interpreters because they recognized my professional capabilities. I take a lot of pride in that. I was chosen to be a voice, reaching out to both the hearing and hard of hearing community, saying “we are all in this together.” It was stressful, yes, but the positive response has been really encouraging.

Its almost impossible for an interpreter to walk into a press conference regarding an lydia-callis-bloomberg-sandy-nycongoing natural disaster fully prepared. Like most interpreting jobs, there was no script or briefing. I did my research on the train, en-route to City Hall, keeping myself up-to-date on what exactly was occurring. Since I knew my audience was going to be very broad, I decided to employ methods which felt the most inclusive to the full spectrum of the deaf and hard of hearing community; which meant, in addition to signing American Sign Language (ASL), I would mouth the words very clearly. This seems to have sparked a lot of discussion about my signing style!

My style of ASL is very expressive. I am so comfortable with ASL because it is my first language, and have always used it to communicate with my mother, siblings, nieces,interpreter-asl-nycand nephews. I understand the need for facial expressions and active body movements, particularly when expressing uncertainty, danger, or consolation, as I was during the hurricane. The fact that I received so much attention for simply doing my job has raised the unfortunate truth about accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing in America. That my use of ASL struck so many as a novelty, shows how unfamiliar most hearing people are with this language.

deaf-communicationIn the wake of that experience, it is my hope to use all the attention for good. In our 2012 pop-culture society, media is an integral part of our day-to-day lives. I strongly feel that the universe put me in the media spotlight, not for fame, but to educate my fellow Americans about the 48 million deaf and hard of hearing citizens living in this country, and break down the communication barrier between us all. I feel very passionately about bridging the communication gap that has existed for far too long, and I am blessed with the opportunity to be a liaison between two wonderful cultures.

Thank you for visiting my blog! I sincerely hope you enjoy following the active pursuit of my destiny! If you would like to contact me to discuss my services, please check out the “Contact” link at the top of this page.