Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When You Jump Off from The Point

I used to wonder if interpreters always interpret what I say  the way I want to. Mostly, they do really well and sometimes they make great sentences from my loose signs. But today in one of my classes there was a discussion and I was commenting. I wanted to say “Because of today’s economic globalization ,  cultures are spreading and people are becoming more accepting of other cultures”. But the interpreter interpreted as “In the summer people tend to be accepting of any culture and interact with people all over.”  The interpreter mistook my sign "because" for  "summer". Then there was a little silence in the class, because the professor’s question was not about summer. The professor repeated his questions, and I repeated my answer trying to clarify.

Sometimes I feel embarrassed when I make comments that are unrelated to what we were talking about. Have you ever experienced with that? This is part of having communication issues. In fact, it takes a lot of energy to keep following a conversation in academic classes. While hearing people can just listen what is going on when they are setting on their chairs comfortably, the deaf have to pay more attention to catch a conversation. They have to get their eyes and brain on alert. If you are deaf who uses interpreters for classroom you probably have noticed that you pay more attention like a soldier in a front line when there are interesting discussions, and you wanted to participate.

I wonder if  interpreters have to say always what they think  deaf is saying even if it is off the point. What I mean  sometimes deaf students in classes try to comment, and it is possible that they make a comment which is not relevant to the current discussion. Because they may misunderstand what the discussion was about. I noticed, it is not easy to follow when there are so many people commenting on a topic. I remember couple of times that I jumped off from the point, but always interpreters understood.  And sometimes, they asked me what I was talking about before they voiced it.

I totally understand that interpreters are human, and it is not their fault if they misinterpret sentences like my above sentence. Interpreting is not an easy job. I am not posting this to blame interpreters or make them guilty when they misunderstand. I am just sharing my experience. I always have gratitude and respect for interpreters because they are the ones that make us break communication barriers. They are the one that make possible for deaf student like me to have their voice heard in their classes and succeed academically.

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