- Aspiring Interpreter
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- Classroom Modules
- Diagnostic Assessment
- Journal of Undergraduate Studies
- Outcomes Circle
- Student Recruitment
- Vocational Rehabilitation Internship
- Deaf Self-Advocacy
- Teaching Interpreting Media
An infusion module for Interpreter Education Programs
This section will explore environmental and ergonomic considerations when interpreting with Deaf-Blind individuals.
- Read the Modifications to the Environment section
- Read “The Case of the Missing Neckline” article
- Watch videos on environmental considerations
- Complete the activity on “What’s Wrong with this Picture”
Please read the printer friendly PDF below. After please view the videos. Then read the Missing Neckline article, open the chart and view the Missing Neckline video. Then complete the chart.
Modifications to the Environment
While interpreting for individuals with combined hearing and vision loss, sign language interpreters must be even more aware of the environment than usual. Standard environmental considerations such as “Will I stand or sit?” and “Never interpret in front of a light source.” apply but, in a situation in which you are interpreting with persons who are DeafBlind, you need to be sure the environment is also ergonomic. As defined in the Collins English Dictionary, the adjective “ergonomic” is used to describe something that is “designed to minimize physical effort and discomfort, and maximize efficiency.” When interpreting for persons who are DeafBlind, we might add “and facilitate communication.” In addition to distorting the message, poor posture can cause fatigue and pain in both the interpreter and the consumer especially in prolonged interpreting situations. Taking preventative measures is key! Below are some suggestions for “ergonomically correct” environmental modifications you can use when interpreting for DeafBlind consumers.
SEATING – You will most likely sit when you work with DeafBlind consumers. You and your consumer will work together to determine the optimal seating arrangement for both of you, keeping in mind the following important principles:
- Be sure you and your consumer are on equal planes. This can be achieved by utilizing chairs with adjustable heights.
- Be sure you are within easy reach of each other. Avoid over-reaching.
- Support your arms. In addition to the arms of your adjustable chair, tables can be used as a natural support for both you and your consumer. While using close vision interpreting, however, a chair without arms is preferable.
- Support your back. Consider placing a pillow behind your back for additional support.
LIGHTING – Sufficient and appropriate lighting is crucial for almost every assignment in which you are working with persons who are DeafBlind. Again, you will work with the DeafBlind consumer to adjust the lighting as needed being mindful of the following:
- Be sure that the environment is sufficiently illuminated. – Consumers who rely on their residual vision generally require a bright environment free of glare. Natural lighting is best but additional, artificial lighting may be needed to accomplish clear communication.
- Be aware of the direction of the lighting. – The light source should come from behind the consumer so you are sufficiently illuminated and there are no shadows across your face.
BACKGROUND – You’ve been taught to be aware of what’s behind you any time you interpret but, when working with persons who are DeafBlind , this concern takes on additional urgency. For consumers relying on their impaired vision, a distracting background can have a significant negative impact on their ability to receive the message. When setting up for an interpreting assignment that includes persons who are DeafBlind, you and the consumer need to make sure of the following:
- The background is dark. – Your first choice is to utilize something already present in the environment such as a dark chalkboard, drapes or a wall. At times you may need to suggest that a portable chalk board be placed behind you or a dark cloth be tacked over a light colored or distracting surface.
- The background is solid. – Just as you’ve been taught not to wear striped or flowered tops, the surface behind you must also be plain with no designs.
CLOTHING – Again, you know how an interpreter should dress – in a solid color contrasting to their skin color. When you take an assignment with persons who are DeafBlind , however, you should also consider
- A closed or higher neckline – The article “The Case of the Missing Neckline” by Rhonda Jacobs that appeared in the Winter 2010 RID VIEWS illustrates why a higher neckline is an important consideration when working with DeafBlind consumers. (When you finish reading this page, please read the article.)
- If you’re female, wearing pants. This is particularly true if you will be working with a consumer who uses two-handed tactile communication.
PERSONAL HYGIENE – Common sense, and the videotapes you’ve seen in this module, tell you that you are going to be in closer proximity to persons who are DeafBlind. You would most likely not appreciate their wearing strong perfumes or lotions or carrying the lingering scent of a cigarette. So you will want to take care that you do not exude any strong scents either. Likewise, common sense dictates that you wash or sanitize your hands frequently during an assignment with persons who are DeafBlind and with whom you use tactile sign language.
Morgan, S. (n.d.). Interpreting strategies for deaf-blind students: An interactive training tool for educational interpreters. Dayton, OH: Ohio Center for Deaf-Blind Education. (T200.0001.01) Retrieved from the NCRTM website
The Case of the Missing Neckline
Environmental & Ergonomic Modifications Videos
This is the first video describing environmental and ergonomic considerations. It is 3:10 minutes long.
Myers, M. U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Northwestern Connecticut Community College(2001). National curriculum for training interpreters working with people who are deaf-blind. Retrieved from NCRTM website (V746.050) http://ncrtm.ed.gov
This is the second video on the topic of environmental and ergonomic modifications. It is 7:15 minutes long.
Morgan, S. U.S. Department of Education, University of Dayton. (n.d.). Interpreting strategies for deaf-blind students: An interactive training tool for educational interpreters (T200.0001.01). Retrieved from the NCRTM website.
What’s Wrong with this Picture
Fill in the chart below with examples of what is not being done correctly and how these errors can be corrected. Include as many examples as you can find.
Note: You will notice that this interpreter is not making continuous eye contact with her consumer. This is because the interpreter depicted in this video is a Deaf interpreter. She is copy signing from either a hearing interpreter working from spoken English or a Deaf presenter using sign.
|What’s Wrong With This Picture?||How Can This Be Corrected?!|
|Interpreter’s Sign Production|
|Interpreter’s Deference to Consumer’s Preferences|
Adapted by J. Hecker-Cain. Morgan, S. U.S. Department of Education, University of Dayton. (n.d.). Interpreting strategies for deaf-blind students: An interactive training tool for educational interpreters (T200.0001.01).
Much of the print and video content for this module comes from two significant resources. We acknowledge and thank the producers of these resources for their contribution.
Morgan, S. US Department of Education, Ohio Center for Deaf-Blind Education. (n.d.). Interpreting strategies for deaf-blind students: an interactive training tool for educational interpreters (Project Award “H326C080020). Dayton, OH(T200.0001.01). Retrieved NCRTM website.
Myers, M. U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Northwestern Connecticut Community College (2001). National curriculum for training interpreters working with people who are deaf-blind. Retrieved from NCRTM website (V746.050).
Sighted Guide Video produced in conjunction with the National Curriculum for Training Interpreters with People who are Deaf-Blind was produced by Dawn Sign Press, Inc. and is used with permission.
In addition, National Interpreter Education Center wishes to thank those who were involved with the production of seven of the videos included this module, “In Their Own Words” and “HKNC Conference.”
The administration and staff at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youth & Adults (HKNC) located in Sands Point, NY were instrumental in the production of these unique materials. We especially thank the following HNKC administrators:
Mr. Joe McNulty, Executive Director
Ms. Sue Ruzenski, Director of Direct Services
Ms. Suzanne Ressa, Director of Marketing & Development
Kathy Anellos, Supervisor of Interpreting Services
We recognize and thank the extraordinary team of interpreters who allowed us to capture their work on film:
We sincerely acknowledge the Deaf-blind individuals who shared their life experiences “In Their Own Words”:
Anindya (Bapin) Bhattacharyya
Copyright © 2013-2016 by the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC).
This NCIEC product was developed by the National Interpreter Education Center (NIEC) at Northeastern University. Permission is granted to copy and disseminate these materials, in whole or in part, for educational, non-commercial purposes, provided that NCIEC is credited as the source and referenced appropriately on any such copies.
This resource is intended to be included in your institution’s learning management system. Please return to your school’s web site for any activities.