Quality of BSL/English Interpreting

Following up on what Joe mentioned in a comment to my previous post, about the two BSL/English Interpreters struggling to keep up with the technical language during his interview at Amazon.

This led me to think: with the rise in the number of Deaf professionals now entering a specialist profession, should we be worried that there are insufficient BSL/English Interpreters with the adequate knowledge and training in order to reflect the professionalism and expertise of the Deaf person they are working for?

It is a concern I have. Because I am a good lip-reader, I sometimes understand what my terps say when they’re voicing me over. A few times now I’ve had concerns about whether they are translating things accurately.

Another problem I have is the fact that because sometimes I know exactly what word I want them to use, it can be difficult to incorporate that into my BSL, so I end up mouthing or even whispering the word.

The worry I have is that BSL/English Interpreters are not reflecting the professionalism of Deaf professionals well enough, which in turn makes colleagues, interviewers etc. uncertain as to whether we are up to the job. Is this another form of discrimination? Is this another reason to support the argument that indirect discrimination should be introduced under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995?

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2 Responses

  1. Tony Nicholas says:

    No Rob, bad intepreting is not another form of discrimination. While it can reflect poorly on people ina given situtaion, it’s not discrimination.

    The thing with interpreting, is it’s just that interpreting – not mind reading -and a person can only interpret what they can see/ read or hear.

    This is turn is influenced by a terpreter’s experience and training AND cultural and social upbringing.

    It seems that Deafies are/or have been advancing far more rapdily than the profession of interpreting, especially in specialist areas. More time and money is devoted terpreter ‘general’ terpreter training, not specialist, which would require more training again….. but if we’re lucky, we may strike terpreter’s who have an interest in a specialist area.

    There are other mitigating factors – the pace of change, few terpreters available to meet demand and the demands placed on the available terpreters to keep up with it all.

  2. Mrdini says:

    I would daresay part of the problem lies with the interpreting agencies out there.

    Currently, there is no way to specify whether you want an interpreter who has knowledge in a particular area. I.E. if I want a terp with familarity with IT – not possible, unless you’re dealing with an agency who has good familarity with the terps they use.

    On the other hand, when I was at Wolves uni, the uni’s communications support unit tend to try to use the same terps for the same courses. As a result, these terps tend to pick up the jargon that’s used in these courses, and as a result, they’re probably somewhat better than a freelance terp who probably haven’t much experience with IT…

    Ideally, agencies would track specialities that terps have professed an interest in, and would be willing to interpret for. Don’t count on this happening any time soon though.

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