Classroom Interpreting

Students - Who should teach consumer skills?

Educational interpreters model their roles and responsibilities each time they work with a student. When they have appropriate boundaries, the student learns about boundaries. When they ask a student about communication preferences, they teach the student that it is reasonable and correct to talk about what works for them. It is a fact that students will learn a great deal about interpreting by exposure to interpreters and interpreting.

However, this is not really sufficient. There are issues that the student should understand that might not be easily modeled, such as understanding issues of confidentiality as it applies to educational settings versus adult situations. We believe that deaf and hard of hearing students have a right to learn how to become an adult consumer of interpreting. This requires at least some explicit teaching.

The educational interpreter often has a great deal of information that she/he can share with the student; however, the interpreter is not a consumer of interpreting services. Often individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing find great value in talking with others who may have shared similar experiences working with an interpreter. We encourage schools to contact community members who are deaf and hard of hearing and who have significant experience using interpreting services for learning, socializing, meeting, and working. It is important to note that deaf adults and hard of hearing adults often use interpreters in different ways and they may have very different strategies for using an interpreter.

The ideal teacher of this curriculum would be someone who understands what it is like to communicate through an interpreter. Often community members are available for in-service workshops and presentations for deaf and hard of hearing students. However, if community contacts are not easily available, it is still imperative that deaf or hard of hearing students acquire competencies regarding interpreting.