No two interpreting situations are exactly alike. Often surprises, distractions, or changing conditions can irritate the interpreter. Wisdom is needed to know how to deal with situations and conditions that are not perfect. Here are a few conditions to consider to which interpreters need to make adjustments.
Adjust to the people in front of you. – Is the language level “high” or “low”? Is the language type ASL, PSE, SEE or something else? Be aware of whether people are understanding the message you are signing. Example: How many ways can you sign John 3:16? One? Three? Ten? Always sign for clear understanding.
Adjust to the changing program. – Sometimes the program changes from what you prepared. Be willing to adapt and change as needed. What do you do when you cannot understand the speaker? What do you do when something new is added to the program while you are interpreting? How do you interpret when the speaker begins to lose his voice?
Adjust to the change in physical conditions. – What do you do when the temperature starts to rise and you do not have a fan? How do you adjust when some of the Deaf people cannot see the interpreter? What do you do if the interpreter is required to stand for long periods of time? What do you do when the lighting changes due to the sun?
Adjust to distractions or annoyances. – What happens when your physical condition changes? What if you begin to feel ill? How do you interpret when there is a crying baby or when there are outside noises such as heavy rain? How do you interpret voices from the audience? What do you do when everyone laughs, but the speaker and/or Deaf people do not know the reason why?
Interpreters who can adjust to changing situations can be more effective and successful than those who do not. Interpreting is about communication. Be willing to change and succeed rather than have your way and fail. More later….