Saturday, June 03, 2017

Sign Language Interpreting

And so I was called into action in a last minute desperate attempt to find an interpreter - any interpreter at all as the time was so short.  That's the kind of interpreting I do best, not being certified and all...A desperate need for one student on a Wilderness First Responder re-certification course.  I was hesitant as my skills aren't as good as when I was a teachers' aide and coaching the soccer team at The Learning Center for the Deaf, but when I found out I knew the student and she needed the cert for her summer job, I was agreed to be "better than nothing!" 

And hopefully I have been.  Two days done, one more to go.  One Deaf student out of 19 students.  It has been interesting watch her navigate her not-certified interpreter.  There are times, I know she's confused and is just being patient with me (oh so patient) and there are times when I'm interpreting some long-winded, too-specific story from some student that has nothing to do with what is going on or what we're trying to learn.  I appreciate those who are succinct and clear in their communication. 

Having taught similar courses, I am caught in the dilemma of communicating exactly what I hear or communicating what I think will best convey the information.  All the while, not really stopping.  At the end of the first day, I was ready to take my arm off at the elbow and look around for another one.  My finger-spelling started to slow as my tendons and ligaments started to fatigue, then I could feel every movement in my forearm.  When I had a short break, I would let my right hand hang like I was rock climbing, trying to get some healing blood back to it.  Shake it out...hope it lasts another lesson.  Normally there are two interpreters for a job so they can rest their minds and hands.  When I showed up they told me there were usually three for these courses.  

With no experience, some work easily with a Deaf co-student.  Some tend to find someone else to work with.  Those who are willing make a difference.  Those who treat their students Deaf and non-Deaf all the same are wonderful.  

Back in this wonderful language, so beautiful, so cool, knowing it feels like a super-power!  Since my client and I are looking at each other for much of the course, there are wonderful shared moments where one of us will catch the other in a moment of confusion, chills, boredom or mental fatigue.  Smiles come, sometimes laughter, our own little beautiful world.  It would be made more beautiful if the room was full of Deaf folks and I was teaching them wilderness first aid skills directly instead of interpreting them through another instructor, but as it is, it's our own little beautiful world.  Her perspective is probably not the same as there are times that I am not interpreting things perfectly due to the nature of what or how something is being said or in what situation.  She looks confused and we laugh about it later.  She probably thinks, "What the Hell?!" and either thinks the instructor is an idiot if I'm interpreting things properly or thinks I'm an idiot for not doing a better job.  On second thought, she surely knows I am at fault.  Hopefully I am still better than nothing!

My client I have not seen in many years and so wonderful to reconnect.  Before a student, now a friend.  Confident, smart, ever so patient, and with wide eyes to the world.  So impressed how she works with us hearing folks.  Lookout world!  So nice to have such people in the world.  

I would write more, but really should rest the hands.  Slept almost 10 hours last night, trying not to move my hands and forearms.  First day in a long time I didn't play a guitar or bass.  It was worth it though.  Power to the people who can communicate with their hands and faces.  I was drawn to this language as a kid and the grace and beauty of the language and the people of the Deaf world have forever enriched my life.  So many thanks to all who've been so patient with me and let me into their world.  

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