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.