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American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf Education in America: Voices of Children from Inclusion Settings

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   I wouldnít want her following me through the halls, or anything. But it is OK [to have her] in class.

   The interpreters generally donít follow me around the building all day long, and if they did, it would drive me crazy. I would
   feel like a little kid.

Some students are embarrassed by the idea of being connected to an adult in the school. They desperately want to be independent like the other kids, and yet they need adults to have access to their environment. Zack and Jasmine both connected their attachment to an interpreter with deep feelings of embarrassment. This embarrassment is also indicative of feeling alienated and different.

Other deaf students seem content with their current arrangementóa balance between independence and accessibility. Ashley explained that her interpreter does not stay with her outside of the classroom. However, this suggests that she does not have full access to the conversations and sounds occurring in those environments. Julieís comments indicate that she doesnít mind either way, but she had previously mentioned that her interpreter looks like a student, and therefore blends into the crowd. Interestingly, this might refer back to the extension theory. If your interpreter is capable of blending into your social circle, then you might not mind having her around. But if your interpreter stands out from the crowd, it could be more embarrassing.

By choosing independence over access, students reveal the depth of their need to feel independent. However, it is difficult to know whether this need for separation is based on their desire to be independent or on the social constraints imposed by their interpreter. Regardless, many deaf students freely give up access to the voices in the hall to walk alone.

What happens when your interpreter is sick or not at school?

When asked to share their experiences with substitute interpreters, several students moaned. One student even grabbed his hair and pretended to be pulling it out, in a ďYikes!Ē kind of pose.

   [If the interpreter was sick,] Iíd have other interpreters, but they were slow, not like natural signing from Deaf people. I
   just prefer having a deaf teacher.

   Sometimes Iíd have a substitute interpreter . . . they were good, too. Some were better than others. Some interpreters
   would miss information.

   My normal interpreter is good. But the sub is lousy. She makes me look stupid.

   When my interpreter is absent, I really donít like subs. They just donít know what to do. So, I tell my interpreter that I
   donít want a sub. I am better off by myself.
      One horror story: I have different schedules for every day, and I guess someone gave the sub the wrong schedule. So,
   she kept going to the wrong places. I kept getting embarrassed. The sub always wanted to sit next to me, but I was sitting
   around my friends. I didnít really like that. They think that I really need their help, but I donít need it. So, Iím better off by

   I hate it when I have substitute interpreters. They donít read my communication very well, and I donít always understand
   their signs. I hate having a substitute interpreter because it just becomes a struggle.
      For example, a sub interpreter might not understand some of the signs I was using, but they were regular ASL signs. I
   have to stop and explain each time and it gets really frustrating. Sometimes they donít understand or they just say things
   that donít mean the same thing that I meant and that causes problems. Iíve had many bad experiences with subs.
      One example was last year in middle school, in art class. I had a substitute interpreter who really was not skilled enough
   to work. Iíd had her sub for me before, so I already knew that I was likely to have problems. She interpreted the
   instructions from the teacher, which was fine. So I started working and the interpreter told me that I was doing it wrong
   and then she started doing it for me to show me how! I couldnít believe it! I told her ďItís not your art project, its mine!Ē I
   started to erase what she had done and the interpreter got mad at me!! When the deaf education teacher found out, she
   really gave it to the interpreter and told her to get out and not to accept any substitute work for me again. I never really
   liked that interpreter, she always seemed mean to me.
      If we canít get a substitute interpreter, then the deaf education teacher interprets. Sheís just a crazy woman, so itís a
   different experience and kind of fun when she does that! Actually, Iíd much rather that she interpret than any other

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