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Deaf Interpreter-Hearing Interpreter Teams
An infusion module for Interpreter Education Programs
Unit 4: The DI-HI Team at Work
This unit Looks at the strategies for preparing, teaming, and debriefing for Deaf Interpreter-Hearing Interpreter teams.
Unit 4 Goals
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of different DI-HI preparation needs and approaches prior to assignments including:
- How to prepare as a team.
- How to use materials provided before the interpreting to prepare as a team.
- How to pre-conference with the hearing and D/deaf consumer(s).
- Students will be able to identify the following “on the job” approaches for DI-HI teams:
- Effective feeding techniques
3. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the factors and considerations to be included in debriefing upon completion of an assignment
Unit 4 – The Deaf Interpreter-Hearing Interpreter (DI-HI) Team at work
DI-HI teams can be instrumental in providing communication accessibility for Deaf and hearing consumers. Successful teams are those who prepare together, work collaboratively to co-construct meaningful communication exchanges, and do so in a respectful and professional manner. This holds true for all kinds of interpreting teams whether they are made up of two HI’s, two DI’s, or a DI and HI working together as a team. There are, however, some unique teaming strategies that are specific to DI-HI teams. Distinctive strategies and practices for preparing, teaming, and debriefing for DI-HI teams will be covered in this unit.
Before the Work Begins: DI-HI Preparation
Preparation is the key to teams working together effectively. Preparing with team interpreters is not simply a nice idea, it is also one of the guiding principles of our profession as stated in the RID Code of Professional Conduct, tenet 5.0, which states, “Interpreters are expected to collaborate with colleagues to foster the delivery of effective interpreting services” (RID, 2005).
Along with the typical team discussions, DI-HI collaboration involves preparation in three key areas: 1) Determination of the language and style of the feed (a feed or fed interpretation refers to the work produced by the HI as they listen to the spoken English source and signs or feeds it to the DI), 2) Establishment of agreed upon cues for in-team communications, and 3) Team review of preparation materials.
1) DI-HI Team Preparation:Feed Target language
After receiving the incoming source, the feed interpreter relays (or feeds) this message content to the team who produces a target interpretation. When working from English to ASL, the feed interpreter is the HI. When working from ASL to English, the feed interpreter is the DI. The team must discuss in advance how the feed interpreter will process the source message before feeding it to the team. When working English to ASL, the team may agree that the HI will produce a conceptually accurate, English-based feed so that the DI can re-structure the message into a culturally appropriate ASL interpretation. Another option is to have the HI produce a conceptually accurate, ASL-based feed. From this type of feed, the DI would then produce a more native, accent-free ASL interpretation. When working ASL to English, the same considerations must be discussed.
When simultaneously interpreting, it is also critical to discuss the pace and flow of the feed interpretation to the target interpreter based on their preferences. For example, the DI may prefer that the HI produce a fed interpretation that results in a continuous stream of source message output. Another possibility is for the HI to break down the source into smaller conceptual units and to pause between each of the message units fed (also, referred to as chunking). Additionally, the DI-HI team may agree on when and where the HI will alter the typical pace and message stream of the feed to meet the needs of the interpreting process and the consumers.
When consecutively interpreting, these same considerations should be given. Additional discussion about note-taking and density of the concepts is required before beginning interpreting. This discussion should also include how much the team is comfortable chunking (memory differences can impact this).
2) DI-HI Team Preparation:Establishing Cues
Communication within the DI-HI team is essential. With the fast-pace, continuous flow of information exchanged in an interpreted interaction, there is little time for inner-team negotiations and communications. By establishing pre-determined cues, inner-team communication can occur quickly and concisely. In doing so, the DI-HI team can be sure that the integrity of the message is not sacrificed as a result of these necessary team negotiations. The following are examples of different cues to be established by the DI-HI team before their work. Cues can be used to indicate:
- A needed clarification.
- A needed repair to the feed or target interpretation.
- Extra-linguistic information like a visual aid that is not visible to both team members, a speaker’s nonverbal communication, environmental information, etc.
- The source message about to be fed contains challenging or dense concepts like a poem, a joke, use of figurative language, etc.
- Need for a pause or process time.
- Readiness for the next feed.
3) DI-HI Team Preparation: Material Discussion
As is the case for all interpreters and interpreting teams, reviewing materials and discussing the general theme, goal, and main points of the exchange are critical to achieving message equivalency. DI-HI teams also review these materials and in addition cover a number of other areas in their pre-interpreting discussions some of which will be explained here.
The DI-HI team, in their pre-conference meeting, will also identify source message concepts that may be challenging to feed or to restructure into a target message interpretation. Together the team can note any source materials and/or concepts that may be particularly dense or have more sound- or visually-based meanings that may pose challenges to the interpretation. Examples of these might be the use of analogies, idioms, figurative language, jokes, or poems. The DI-HI team can pre-determine strategies they will use to negotiate source language structures to retain meaning.
Attention should also be given to technical information, jargon, and/or proper nouns that may involve fingerspelling. Because fingerspelling requires specific attention for preciseness, identifying and becoming familiar with this information in advance will minimize the amount of cognitive load needed for comprehension by the interpreter producing the target interpretation.
Finally, the DI-HI team must agree on how preparation with the consumers will be handled. Because working with a DI-HI team may be a new experience for consumers, the team should decide how the DI-HI process will be explained to the hearing and Deaf consumer(s). If consecutive interpreting will be used, here again, the DI-HI team should agree on how the explanation will be given to all consumers.
Along with determining how the logistics of working with the DI-HI team will be explained, the team should also determine in advance what questions the team has regarding the materials, the situation, and the consumers. Some consideration should be given to how preparation with the consumers will be handled.
Here are some suggestions for preparing with consumers:
1) The hearing consumer:
The DI takes the lead explaining the interpreting process and gathering answers to the pre-determined team questions while the HI functions as the interpreter. There are a number of benefits to having the DI lead in this capacity. First, this helps to equalize the imbalance of power that may exist between the hearing consumer and the DI and/or Deaf consumer. The Deaf consumer may gain a sense of empowerment from observing the leadership role of the DI and it also heightens the amount of respect the hearing consumer may have towards the interpreting work.
2) The Deaf consumer:
The DI takes the lead as outlined above, or the DI and HI together explain the interpreting process and gather answers to the pre-determined team questions. This approach is beneficial in that the DI-HI team physically exhibit a unified front with shared goals and responsibilities in the interpreting process.
On the Job: Techniques for Being an Effective DI-HI team
Not only is there a difference in how teams prepare to work together when they are part of a DI-HI team, the actual work itself differs from what interpreters are accustomed to doing. HIs and DIs must make adjustments in how they work when producing a feed interpretation in order to accommodate the DI-HI process.
Research conducted by Ressler (1999) has noted that there are differences between a HI’s product when working with a DI as opposed to when the HI works independently to produce the target interpretation.
Some of the differences noted were that HIs working in DI-HI teams:
- Paused differently than those working independently,
- Used eye gaze differently than those working independently,
- Used head nods as a way to visually support/monitor the DI’s work, and
- Used fewer signs per minute but fingerspelled more.
Each of these areas will be explained further below as based on Ressler’s (1999) study.
- Effective feeding techniques: Pauses
Pauses occur when an interpreter is not actively signing and their hands are at a rest position. There are also other kinds of pauses when an interpreter holds the final position of a sign beyond the standard customary length of time before moving to produce the subsequent sign. The length of time a HI paused (using either type of pause) when working with a DI in a fed interpretation was found to be three times longer than the time they spent pausing when they worked independently. Seemingly, this extended time spent pausing and not feeding the source created time for the HI to pace how much information was fed to the DI and allowed for monitoring and in-team communications.
- Effective feeding techniques:Eye Gaze
Interpreters shift the focus of their eye gaze during their interpretation for a number of reasons. When comparing the focus of an interpreter’s eye gaze working with and then without a DI, differences were observed. When working independently, the HI’s eye gaze was normally focused downward while pausing. However, when feeding a DI, the HI’s eye gaze when pausing was focused directly on the DI. The HI continually watches the DI to monitor and check for feed and communication clarification.
- Effective feeding techniques: Monitoring Head Nods
Monitoring head nods are head nods that are not part of the source or target language. When observing HIs working with and without DIs, monitoring head nods were observed only in the feed interpretation. They only occurred during times when the HI paused while holding the final position of a sign. During each of these instances, the HI’s eye gaze was directed at the DI providing support, affirmations, and watching for requests for additional feed information.
- Effective feeding techniques: Signs vs. Fingerspelling
When comparing the number of signs produced per minute in a HI’s fed interpretation with their interpretation without a DI, the HI used 24 less signs per minute when feeding a DI. At first glance it might be assumed that the integrity of the message may be compromised with DI-HI teams because information from the source is being omitted. That however is not the case. Rather, the HI may often fingerspell a concept to the DI creating an opportunity for the DI to produce the target language equivalent meaning by using a conceptually equivalent cluster of ASL signs. This cooperative approach efficiently makes use of both interpreters’ time and abilities.
After the job: DI-HI Debriefing
In every teaming relationship there are opportunities to grow and learn. One way to continually improve and build a stronger, more effective DI-HI team is to engage in a reflective discussion about the DI-HI work after its completion. There are a number of specific points of discussion that a DI-HI team covers in their debriefing time to help them grow as individual interpreters and as members of a DI-HI team.
These questions include:
- Which pre-established cues were effective and/or ineffective? And, what situational factors led them to being effective or not?
- What alternative strategies could have been used to resolve problems that occurred?
- What alternative strategies might have been used to enhance team dynamics?
- How effective were the strategies the interpreters used to feed?
- What corrections/clarifications to the interpretations occurred and were they effective?
- What went differently than expected?
- What were the content and/or team challenges that were faced?
- Was the process collaborative? Why or why not?
- Was mutual respect of each other’s interpreting work achieved?
- Were power dynamics identified and did they impede or enhance respect of each other’s work?
- What have both interpreters learned from one another?
Successful DI-HI teams often do not just happen. These teams are created as the two interpreters adapt and merge their independent processes and skills of preparation, interpretation, and reflection to create a single functioning unit. By applying these necessary adjustments in how DIs and HIs approach their work before, during, and after an interpreted event, the DI-HI team can be confident in the accuracy and integrity of the work they produce.
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (2005). NAD-RID Code of professional conduct.Retrieved from http://rid.org/UserFiles/File/NAD_RID_ETHICS.pdf.
Ressler, C. (1999). A comparative analysis of a direct interpretation and an intermediary interpretation in American Sign Language. Journal of Interpretation, 71-97.
Bentley-Sassaman, J. (2010). Experiences and training needs of Deaf and hearing interpreter teams. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Walden University, Minneapolis, MN. Retrieved from http://www.diinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Bentley-Sassaman_DoctoralStudy.pdf
Unit 4: DI-HI Team Preparation Student Activity
The goal of this activity is for students to observe and analyze how a DI-HI team pre-conferences with each other before their work.
Film: “Deaf Interpreting: Team Strategies; Pre-Conference Discussion” (approximately 10 minutes long)
Setting: A DI-HI interpreting team is preparing to interpret a counseling session in a mental health setting. Before their work begins, they discuss a number of team-related strategies together.
- Begin by viewing the introduction by Eileen Forestal to the Pre-Conference Discussion here:
Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwPBSfwt670&list=PLmjvdaJRb2jWzcGG0NYF-61yLE81RYqe3&index=7
- After the brief introduction watch the actual pre-conferencing session between the DI and the HI and respond to the guiding questions below:
DI-HI Pre-conference Session
- What information does the DI share with the HI about the Deaf client?
- What feed target language does the team agree on?
- How does the DI say he will indicate if the feed from the HI is not clear?
- What cues does the team agree to use to indicate in-team communication?
- What does the DI specifically ask the HI to do in her feed to assist with information accuracy?
- When discussing the pace and flow of the feed interpretation, what does the team agree to do when the source message is extended beyond just a simple question?
- What does the DI suggest the HI do while the Deaf consumer is sharing comments and she is waiting for the DI’s interpretation of that content?
- How does the team agree to handle clarifications to the hearing or Deaf client from the DI-HI team?
- What does the team agree to do if the DI begins to “shadow” (copy exactly what the HI is feeding to the Deaf consumer)?
- How does the team agree to handle specific terms such as “legal guardian” and “native?”
Unit 4: Pre-conferencing with the Hearing and Deaf Consumers Student Activity
The goal of this activity is for students to observe and analyze how a DI-HI team pre-conferences with consumers before their work.
Film: Deaf Interpreting: Team Strategies for Interpreting in a Mental Health Setting; (approximately 8 minutes)
Setting: A DI-HI interpreting team is preparing to interpret a counseling session in a mental health setting. Before their work begins, they pre-conference with the hearing counselor and the Deaf consumer.
- Begin viewing the scenario:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF5Qq3CK47Y&list=PLmjvdaJRb2jWzcGG0NYF-61yLE81RYqe3&index=11
- While watching the pre-conferencing sessions, respond to the guiding questions below:
A) Mental Health Pre-Conference with the Counselor (counter #: 0:00 to 5:09)
- Which of the two interpreters leads the introduction of the DI-HI team and explanation of the process?
- What are some things the DI-HI team cover when explaining how the DI-HI team will work?
- What information does the DI-HI team request of the counselor?
- What in-team communication takes place between the DI and the HI during the pre-conference session?
- Why do you think this in-team communication happened?
- When describing the consecutive interpreting process that will occur, the DI does not use the term “consecutive interpreting.” Why do you think that term was not used?
- How does the team describe how interpreter-generated requests for clarifications will be handled?
- Are there other things the DI-HI team could/should have covered in their pre-conference with the hearing consumer?
B) Mental Health Pre-Conference with the Client (counter # 5:16 – 7:46)
- Which of the two interpreters leads the introduction of the DI-HI team and explanation of the process?
- Why do you think this was different from the initial pre-conference with the hearing counselor?
- Why does the HI say she is working with a DI in this setting as opposed to other setting where she does not have a DI as part of her team?
- What does the DI add about the Code of Professional Conduct and why do you think this was discussed with the Deaf consumer and not the hearing counselor?
- The DI explains how the consecutive interpreting process will work. What does he add and emphasize to the Deaf consumer?
- When the client begins to share details about why she is coming to see the counselor, the DI asks her to hold off and to share that with the counselor. Why do you think he may have done that?
Copyright © 2013-2016 by the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC).
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