Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Didn't Ask for a deaf Child

I didn't ask for a deaf child

I was given one

I saw his eyes light up

I wanted to know why

He asked me about a caterpillar

I found the answer

He snuck a cupcake

I redirected with my words

I was given a Deaf child

I didn't ask why

He told me he loved me

I asked why

"Because we are the same"

"You are an artist and so am I"

I would ask for this Deaf child

Now ask me why


  1. This is a great poem!

    I would like your help, please.

    I started reading your blog because of your "He is Deaf and Can Read...Yea, Really" post. The title caught my eye because this is my first year interpreting in a mainstream setting (officially, I have been interpreting professionally for 4 months). I interpret Language Arts for some kids, and I am insanely devouring books, articles, and vlogs about deaf literacy. I want to make sure I am not screwing them over. That motivates a lot of my interpreting, haha. Anyway...

    I read your entire blog over the last few days, and I totally respect you and your family.

    I am dying to know what you think about interpreters, what, as a parent, you want from your child's interpreter.

    Also, what does your son think about interpreters? What works for him? What doesn't?

    Any general thoughts?

    I would really value the input of a bi-bi family.

    Thanks a bunch!

  2. First thanks for deciding to be an interpreter! It is a hard job and it is not easy to get qualified interpreters in schools. I know some kids who have really poor services and the parents don't bother or don't know to step in. I also know kids who are not fluent enough to understand what they see. Their needs would be different from my son. I can only give the perspective as a parent of a fluent child. I had his ASL evaluated which is something I recomend all parents ask for. That gives me an idea of how he is doing and if he can mainstream and use an interpreter.

    So my thoughts about it,
    Well that depends on the kid. As a client my son just wants a fluent professional. My son is a native signer who knows how to use an interpreter. In his school he will tell the teacher to slow down or stop running around the class if he needs to. Since he is the client and not me I listen to what he wants. One pet peeve I do have is when I see the interpreter not give him all of the information or isn't interpreting what he is saying. For example once he signed, " I preformed this at Deaf Nation" and it was intrepreted "I proformed this". The venue where he preformed was important. It is important that the interpreter asks for clarification if they need it.

    He doesn't like the interpreter to act as an aide. He doesn't want help from the interpreter doing the work. That insults him and makes him different from the other kids. He knows some kids on an IEP have an aide and he doesn't want to be looked at as "special needs". So again it depends on the kid and what you were hired for. He also doesn't like it if the interpreter disiplines or helps the other kids. It is important for someone to tell you what role you have in the class.

    He had one interpreter who tried to hard to be his friend. She would invite him places and that made him uncomfortable. She was well meaning but crossed the ethics line. On the other hand he has one now who also likes comic books so they chat about that. She also takes his lead and doesn't follow him around outside of class.

    He once had an interpreter in a mainstream class who sat near him in a chair and texted on her SK. She didn't last long. I don't need to tell why that was really bad form. He wants the interpreter near the speaker and paying attention.

    He "wishes interpreters would learn to whisper". That is something he told me once. He doesn't like it if he is telling something to a person real close and it gets shouted across the room.

    I love it when they client comes first. We went to a meeting in an auditorium and the interpreter wanted to sit next to him. I said please stand on the stage. She was worried the speakers might be bothered. I had to go up and tell the speakers (who by the way expected her to stand on stage) she would be doing this. This of course shifted attention to Haddy. He wanted to blend in.

    It is good to first find out what the client wants. I posted about a sub in dance class recently and if she would have asked first it would have helped.

    His interpreters are awesome. They know what is needed. If there is a preformance that needs extra interpreters they request it. If he is doing a preformance they get time prior to rehearse. Even if it is just a class presentation. That insures his meaning is clear.

    They also know what to do if he looks away or is taking notes. This is really hard to do so I am really impressed.

    I hope this helps. I am not Deaf so it would be great for you to get imput from someone who has first hand experience. Every kid is different. The sad thing is if the kids are not fluent it is much harder. I have some interpreter friends who tell me it is so frustrating if the kid doesn't understand.

    Best wishes and thanks for asking. You seem to really care about the kids.

  3. Thank you so much for your response. All good advice.

    I never really wanted to interpret in a school, but the opportunity presented itself, and I thought it might be fun, might be a good place because I would have co-workers. As a freelancer, new interpreter, I wouldn't get that. I took my EIPA just for the feedback, and got a 4.3 and my NIC, so I thought that made me qualified enough. What I didn't really realize was there are issues when interpreting for children that never come up with me when I interpret for adults.

    1. The kids aren't fluent, you're right. Why aren't they fluent? Because the majority of the interpreters they have had throughout their education are not fluent...certainly not certified...PLUS, you do not LEARN YOUR LANGUAGE from an interpreter. This is kind of a big deal.

    2. The families don't sign beyond a few basic nouns, so you are put in this weird place where you are a caring adult in their lives, and one of the few people they can communicate with directly. Stuff comes up. Kids want to be cared about by adults in their lives.

    3. I agree about the interpreter/aide thing, and the interpreter whispering thing. Good boy. Some people are just so clueless, and of course the teacher is going to zero in on your adult voice saying something during lecture, whereas they would most likely ignore the hearing kids. You have to be discreet.

    SOME children have been conditioned to think of their interpreter as an aide, so I guess you just have to meet each child where they are developmentally.

    4. For some reason, many kids don't actually attend to the interpreter during class. I am getting incresingly frustrated with this. Adults pretty much always actually use the interpreter, and if they don't look then whatever. With kids, I feel guilty and like I need to prompt them. I am going to stop this, it's probably really paternalistic.

    Anyway, thanks for being my sounding board. Haha, I should start my own blog, but there is that pesky "Confidentiality" thing...

    It's just that you never really hear from the PARENTS what they want in an educational interpreter, because many parents don't know what it means.

    :-) Thanks again!

  4. Hi Roan513, would you mind emailing me? I have a question for you and can't figure how to contact you on your profile.

    Also I really get where you are coming from. The sad truth is it takes a team effort and if the kids don't get the basics at home it is a struggle for everyone.