Qualified Interpreters Are Mandated

March 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm 1 comment

Doreen SolarNational Association of the Deaf stated that Deaf and hard of hearing people deserve to have interpreters who know what they are doing and who do it well. A qualified interpreter is one who can, both receptively and expressively, interpret accurately, effectively, and impartially, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. Interpreters who struggle with their own expressive and receptive sign skills are difficult to understand, and cannot convey their clients’ messages accurately. The situation benefits no one. Deaf and hard of hearing people get frustrated, hearing people (businesses, speakers, interviewers, etc.) form an unfavorable impression of the entire experience, and the interpreting profession gets shortchanged.

 I am going to share some of my personal experiences with readers, so please continue reading.

 Story #1

My dad was admitted to the hospital for a massive stroke. When I visited him in the hospital, I found the sign on his headboard saying, “the patient can read lips”. I was really upset because my mom was terrified and did not know what was going on with dad’s health status. I went up to the nurse and told her that we needed to have a qualified interpreter, but she would not cooperate with me. I addressed my serious concern that dad was sedated with heavy drugs and had many tubes in both arms.  I also stated that mom and I are his family members and we had every right to have a qualified interpreter. 

I then went up to the head nurse and social worker, but they would not cooperate with me either.  I stated, “You collect federal money and must provide us an interpreter.” They still stood firm, so I called my friend, an assistant to the director, at Access Living in Chicago and explained the situation. He called to warn that the hospital would be closed immediately if the interpreter was not provided.  However, they did not believe him. Dad’s doctor approached me to find out why I was causing so much commotion and I explained that they would not provide an interpreter for us. The doctor ordered the head nurse to find an interpreter right away. He then comforted mom and me because my dad was like a father to him and he did not like to see us discriminated against, frustrated and scared. 

Story #2 

One day, my little hard of hearing son and I went to a fastfood restaurant to get something to eat before we went to the ice rink for his hockey game. The waitress did not understand me, so she asked my son. I told her firmly not to ask my son. I was willing to write the order.  But she refused to give me the paper and pencil and asked my son again.  I was surprised my simple request was ignored because this surrounding community has many deaf and hard of hearing residents and the park district where many deaf and hard of hearing children play hockey, is close by.  The waitress made an impression that I am not capable of speaking for myself.  In addition I was humiliated that she continues to treat my son as my interpreter even after I asked her to not do so.  

I signed to my son not to interpret anything since he is only a son in my eyes; not my interpreter. My son then pointed to both of his ears and said he could not hear anything.  I patiently explained to the waitress again that she has to learn not to use little kids to interpret and that she must give me the paper and pencil to order our food. 

Story #3 

I was an inpatient in the hospital for a medical procedure. The hospital provided me a qualified interpreter, but he was a male. This made me uncomfortable, so I shared my feelings with the nurses. They all understood me perfectly and tried to find a female interpreter. They told me that I had to wait at least 30 minutes for the interpreter to drive from home. I agreed and waited for her. I was so pleased that the nurses respected and cooperated with me that I did not give them a hard time about waiting 30 extra minutes! 

Hearing readers, please be sensitive to deaf and hard of hearing individual’s communication needs. Do not assume anything for them; ask them first how they want to handle the situation; and I do not recommend asking hearing children to interpret for their deaf and hard of hearing parents.

Doreen Solar, ECNV Deaf Peer Mentor


Entry filed under: Deaf/HoH -- Vlog. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. visit us  |  March 17, 2011 at 5:27 am

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