Advocate Collaboration in Business Sign Language Interpretation
In a previous blog, there were examples showing the effects of power positions in sign language interpreting. Looking at the same examples, below are alternative options to approach the same scenario. We should all advocate collaboration in business sign language interpretation because it is in the best interest of all parties.
Disclaimer: Examples are provided for reflection purposes only and may be “extreme” examples for that purpose. Examples are not real life scenarios, and any similarities to real persons or scenarios should not be inferred.
A Deaf Employee Presentation at Work
Position 1: Interpreter in a Power Position
The Deaf employee greets the sign language interpreter in the lobby, and they take turns introducing themselves. Then the interpreter turns the focus to the job at hand: the Deaf employee’s presentation. The interpreter asks who will be present during the meeting, what the presentation will be about, and what the important elements are that the Deaf employee will highlight. The Deaf employee goes through the presentation showing the sign language interpreter keywords and signs.
In the presentation room, the sign language interpreter collaborates with the Deaf employee on the best place to sit or stand. The interpreter understands where the they can be seen but also where they can be heard clearly. A signal is decided on so the Deaf employee knows that the interpreter has missed something and needs it repeated.
Both the sign language interpreter and Deaf employee work as partners during the presentation in order to focus on doing their jobs effectively.
Position 2: Deaf Employee in a Power Position
The Deaf employee greets the sign language interpreter in the lobby, and they take turns introducing themselves. Naturally, the conversation turns to the presentation, and the Deaf employee volunteers all the information they can think of regarding it. Then the Deaf employee hands a copy of the presentation to the interpreters and explains terms and preferred signs. The Deaf employee asks the interpreter if they have any suggestions. The sign language interpreter scans the area for potential barriers, then they both collaborate on alternate solutions.
Both the Deaf employee and sign language interpreter feel that they have addressed all potential concerns, understand how they will work together, and can now focus on presenting effectively.
Position 3: Colleagues/Managers in a Power Position
A Deaf employee’s manager authorizes that a sign language interpreter be hired an hour early in order for the Deaf employee to prepare in advance for the presentation with the interpreter. The employee greets the sign language interpreter in the lobby, and they take turns introducing themselves. Then one of the above scenarios takes place, and the presentation is a success. The Deaf employee is allowed autonomy in their job, and the manager can spend their time on other tasks.
In practice, Deaf employees who support partnership with interpreters in business receive a vastly different interpretation than they would have otherwise. We should advocate collaboration in business sign language interpretation because it makes the flow of the work easier and power struggles less likely. Collaboration opens the door to success.