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Sign Language Studies
American Annals of the Deaf
Deaf Education in America: Voices of Children from Inclusion
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
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
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
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
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