|Deaf Professionals and Designated Interpreters|
From The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter, cont’d.
Pouliot and Stern (chapter eight) give a very personal account of a Deaf professional/designated interpreter relationship, describing their experiences of working together in the contemporary art scene. Stressing that designated interpreting is not a traditional type of job, as “the two people involved always have a personal, boundary-laden investment in each other” (p. 133), they envisage the Deaf professional and designated interpreter working together as full partners, maintaining an open-channelled relationship, never taking each other for granted and as sharing responsibility for creating “One single communicative unit” (p. 137). Also highlighted here is the fact that the regular nature of the relationship can result in the interpreter having intimate and in-depth knowledge about the Deaf individual’s personal and professional life, as well as the professional and private lives of other employees. This latter aspect can result in the Deaf professional’s colleagues feeling vulnerable and mistrustful of the interpreter (see Oatman, chapter ten), which clearly foregrounds the issue as a sensitive one, having considerable impact upon both boundaries and relationships within the workplace setting. Pouliot and Stern also best encapsulate the approach for interpreters striving to minimize the focus directed towards them in workplace settings, in effect recommending that the interpreter develops a sense of “how little of oneself should be spread onto the outcomes, implications. and dynamics of the situation” (p. 138).
Interpreting for Deaf professionals in the medical field is explored in chapter nine, Of particular interest is the attention that Earhart and Hauser direct to the interpreter’s role as a filter in interpreting the conversations and discussions, both formal and informal, deemed pertinent to the Deaf professional. This role requires the interpreter to make decisions about what is important to the Deaf individual, requiring considerable trust in the interpreter’s judgement. Earhart and Hauser also emphasize the impact that a conduit or neutral model of interpreting can have on participants, an issue also addressed by a number of other authors in this volume (Campbell et al., Oatman, and Beaton and Hauser).
In chapter ten, Oatman outlines his personal experiences of working with a Deaf Chief Executive Officer. In addressing the extra-linguistic and extra-cultural skills that are needed in the Deaf professional/designated interpreter relationship, he notes that his familiarity with the Deaf professional, alongside his experience and degree of comfort with the environments in which he interprets, has meant that he has been able to focus less on the actual mechanics of the interpreting process and to concentrate more on “refining he non-linguistic and noncultural aspects” of the interpreted interaction (p. 166). Oatman describes the “shared silent communication, a sense of loyalty to each other, and a mutual caring” (p. 167) as qualities resulting from working closely with a Deaf professional over a period of time, noting that they became friends. However, Oatman highlights the fact that the relationship is essentially a work-related association, the success of which depends on confidentiality, empathy, trust and a clear delineation of expectations. Whilst Oatman notes that both parties adhering to their roles should result in an optimal working relationship, the underlying message from this volume seems to suggest that those roles are in a state of flux and change and as such will assuredly require further substantiation before they can be clearly defined and adhered to.
Peter C. Hauser is an assistant professor in the Department of Research and Teacher Education at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Karen L. Finch is a lecturer in the American Sign Language and Interpreting Education Program at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Angela B. Hauser is a staff interpreter in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester.
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