Tip #1 – get your own interpreter

For the next five days, I’m going to write a tip that I think will help a deaf person to succeed.

My first tip is “get your own interpreter.”

I’ve had a fair share of working with different interpreters. Some were great, some good, and some bad. Some were certified, some weren’t. One thing to keep in mind when you’re working with an interpreter, anything you said is going to be used against you. What I mean by that is hearing people will believe whatever the interpreter has spoken for you. And some of the translation may not exactly what you said but that’s what hearing people will hear and think that’s what you said. So, that’s why it’s important to work with interpreters that can really understand you and your ASL style.

There was one time during an interview. I had an interpreter whose receptive skill wasn’t as good and she had a hard time understanding me and I had to change my ASL style to more of a PSE (Precise Signed English) and that cost in a lot of clarification work and interruptions (wait, what did you just say??). So, the interview didn’t go exactly as smoothly and the interviewer probably saw that I was a difficult person to work with and that must mean I’m not an easy person to work with. Suffice to say, I didn’t get the job. From that moment, I learned my lesson. I will never let an agency or someone pick an interpreter for me. I’m going to pick an interpreter that I know I will work with well enough.

That’s exactly what I did when I got an interview with Google. I asked one male interpreter to see if he could interpret but he was busy so he gave me a personal reference to his friend who was an interpreter too. She turned out to be one of the best interpreters I’ve ever worked with. She had a B.A. degree in English and an MA in professional editing and writing, so I knew she wouldn’t have a problem translating ASL into a high-level English. Also, she was straightforward; she asked right away if I had any materials, anything that will help her translate and during the interview, she asked for clarification instead of just making up words and made sure it’s not me, it’s just that it needed to be interpreted accurately. Not meant to sound sexist but she was a good-looking lady and all of my interviewers were males. She put us at ease and we were having a good interview, just talking, asking questions, and sharing my experiences.

Results? I got the job.

And recently when I was in Mountain View a couple of weeks ago for an interview, I did the same thing again, I personally picked an interpreter I knew and she was good too. The interviews went pretty well, I’m still waiting to hear something from them.

One thing you should be thinking about when you want to get your interpreter is attitude. It’s probably the most important trait for any interpreter to have and ourselves too. There are some interpreters who think they know it all about ASL, some just come for money like it’s just a day’s job without really wanting to help a deaf person to succeed, and some won’t admit mistakes, putting the blame on us. You don’t want to work with those kind of interpreters.

Personally, I think all interpreters should be certified, attend deaf workshops, carry memberships with different deaf organizations and stay in tune with the deaf world.

So if you have an interview coming up, you might want to think about getting your own interpreter.

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7 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. jflmad

    Right on!! 100% agreed with you

  2. natech

    Glad you think so too.

  3. I am in line with your thinking, for the most part. I am not a huge supporter of the certification requirement. I know plenty of terps who are certified but who are not what I would call ‘good’ interpreters. On the other hand, I know plenty who are not certified who absolutely rock! I am in the middle. Just got confirmation for the interview/performance portion of my NIC test. I think I am a pretty good interpreter but then again I might just be one of those people you mentioned above.

    Why do I think I am a good terp? I ask a lot of questions, I am fast to announce when I have made and error, I have multiple English registers from which to draw, and I am pretty easy going. I know some terps who are always tense, have one or two registers and have never uttered the phrase “interpreter error”.

    Working as a VI has improved my voicing and receptive skills 10 fold. interpreting for 50+ people a day through a VP about 50+ topics makes a person more qualified. No doubt about it!

    As far as choosing… YES, for things like job interviews you MUST have someone who is already comfortable voicing for you or you are making a huge gamble.

    Also, tip from the terp, if you are making a VRS call about a job, alert the interpreter before they dial. Let them know your name as well as who to ask for. I know that Deaf callers get upset sometimes when the terp doesn’t understand the finger spelling of their name right away but names are rough no matter what and, be honest, do you not almost ALWAYS ask for a second or third fingerspelling when you are learning a name for the first time? Be fair. During a phone call to a prospective client it is very important that we be able to pronounce your name without the hesitation of waiting for you to spell it.

    Good luck with your new job! I love these tips! Might start doing something similar on my blog. Terp Tips does have a certain appeal, you have to admit!

  4. natech

    Darren, thanks for your great comment. I enjoyed reading it. Yup, nothing like having to interpret for +50 deaf people, stimulation!

    I think one big reason about having a certification shows that you’re serious and passionate (willing to pay $$$ for it) about your profession and you’ve been educated what’s involved in the ASL syntax and how to deal with different people and their ASL styles.

  5. Congrats on your thinking out of box.

    Unfortunately, majority of deaf community cannot afford to hire their own interpreter. Toobad you did not offer alternative solution.

    Also, I wonder if Google is deaf friendly company. If its true, they would provide one for all interviews upon request. Come on, Google isn’t stupid and they can afford one. Maybe you should educate them.

  6. natech

    I didn’t say hire your own interpreter. I asked the company to pay for the interpreter and they were happy to do so.

  7. Do not even consider working for a company that would ask you to provide an interpreter for you interview. Well… unless you are up for educating them every step of the way!

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