Classroom Interpreting

Parents - Case Studies: Exploring Different Perspectives on Educational Interpreting

My Experiences With Oral Interpreting
By Barbara B. Galoob, Oral Deaf Adult

From a College Student’s Perspective

In high school, I wondered why teachers moved around so much and turned their backs to the class as they talked. I’ve now decided it’s because they are concentrating on what they are teaching, rather than how they are delivering the material. This sometimes works a hardship on the entire class, and especially the hearing impaired student whose only recourse is to depend on an interpreter.

Colleges were just beginning to provide oral interpreters in my freshman year, so I learned my way around in another environment. I helped “train” several of these to adapt to needs and preferences of an oral person. How helpful it would have been to have had well-trained, certified oral interpreters in that first year. Some interpreters were “dead pan” which made a lecture boring, and I would sometimes feel hypnotized in my efforts to watch. Sometimes they were so far behind the professor that they found it hard to catch up and so lost the train of thought—then had to pick it up again wherever they could. Sometimes the interpreter would see a puzzled look on my face and stop to explain (without voice) something he or she thought I didn’t understand. Well! By the time he or she started listening to the professor again, we might have missed a full minute or more of the lecture and were far behind on the information being covered. We finally got that straightened out by making sure the interpreter continued to channel the professor’s remarks and let a tutor deal with the vocabulary and concepts I found puzzling.

Although our campus had certified sign language interpreters, we had only one certified oral interpreter for a short time. Funding problems prevented the university from developing a corps of certified oral interpreters, and it seemed that as soon as student interpreters developed good skills, they were graduating or transferring. We were training new interpreters constantly. Eventually, the Coordinator of Support Services decided to train some community-based people who were interested and had previous experience with speechreaders. This finally built a good base of experienced oral interpreters.

I wonder how different things would be if every oral deaf college student could have a certified oral interpreter for lecture classes. Certification means well-trained individuals who 1) use clear articulation, 2) know how to use pacing and phrasing techniques to make speechreading easier; 3) add natural gestures to help a student make use of associational cues; and 4) make appropriate word substitutions for higher visibility on the lips.

Now I’m the Parent of Three Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Children Myself

Each child in my family has varied hearing losses and needs. The two girls – Allison and Amy have had cochlear implants for a number of years. The cochlear implant technology is amazing and awesome. These two girls have depended on it as the loudness from it is sufficient for them, especially at their schools. They hardly use oral interpreters and never use the FM system with the CI processor. They mostly like one of the nowadays technologies - the CART – captioning assistance real timing system at meetings or wherever it’s available.

As for Austin, his hearing loss is between mild and moderate and he wears bilateral hearing aids. He does very well with them. He uses his left ear without the hearing aid for phone conversation.

Because of my and my husband’s previous experiences with deafness and school systems, we knew what was best for the children. We started the auditory and lip reading training for these kids when they were around six weeks old. Also, we’ve taught them how important to advocate for themselves in any circumstances. We watch them carefully and discuss how and what they do academically at their schools. They independently let their teachers know when they fall behind or get off the track. Other than that, the daughters depend on the cochlear implant equipment and the son on the hearing aids which are adequate for their needs.