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Unread 03-28-2006, 12:09 AM   #1
me_punctured
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CODA interpreters

Curiosity keeps the cat alive.

Recently, a good friend of mine and I had a long discussion about CODA interpreters. The majority of my university-educated deaf friends prefer NOT to have them for "educational discrepancy" reasons in academic or professional settings. This same friend told me that many CODA interpreters never attained a college-level education and had certain language development problems in English.

My experience with CODA interpreters is very limited, but I do notice a striking difference between them and non-CODA interpreters, especially when it comes to their signing styles. The former tend to match ASL grammar and syntax more closely, but also incorporate some "home" signs into their vocabulary.

I do however know one who signs clearly and beautifully. She is qualified to interpret in academic and professional settings. She is also very educated (in fact, we both graduated from the same university) in comparison to other CODA interpreters we know but she actually was raised by one set of deaf parents and another set of hearing parents simultaneously.

What are your experiences with CODA interpreters? Does it make any fundamental to you if your interpreter is a CODA or not?
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Unread 05-02-2006, 03:01 AM   #2
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My fiancee and I would put it this way: Many hearing people who grew up speaking English don't speak it very well. The same often happens with CODAs--just because you grew up with ASL doesn't mean you're better at it than someone who learned after growing up. Same goes with any other language.
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Unread 05-02-2006, 06:31 PM   #3
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I was in a workshop with a CODA who had not been through an ITP and was only just beginning to realize that she had to sort of switch her brain over from the CODA side to the interpreter side, if that makes any sense. My feeling is at that moment she probably would not have been the most effective interpreter but because she was developing meta-awareness of her skills and of interpreting in general, she has probably become an excellent interpreter by now.

One important aspect for her, I think, was the notion of ethics, which is not something you necessarily grow up learning as a CODA. There are certain aspects of interpreting that have nothing whatsoever to do with language skill and yet are almost as important (or, arguably, just as important).

Meanwhile, one of my former teachers is a CODA and one of the finest signers, teachers, and interpreters you would ever hope to find.

gnulinuxman is right in that proficiency with a language does not automatically equal proficiency in interpreting (and this is something many CODAs have to face: "oh, you can interpret, you're great at signing!"). I've seen really good signers who just aren't great interpreters. And I've known at least one CODA who considered the profession and then rejected it because although her ASL was native-like, she knew her overall language skills were not that strong.
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Unread 05-02-2006, 08:12 PM   #4
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Agreed, Interpretrator, but I want to add something here. Proficiency in a language isn't even guaranteed either just because you grew up with it. For example, I know some people who grew up speaking English and say things like "I says..." and "We're gonna talk American real good here!" and "Don't use them big words!"
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Unread 05-02-2006, 11:12 PM   #5
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Use of a deviation from standard American English doesn't necessarily mean lack of proficiency.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 06:24 AM   #6
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a CODA HERE

HI,
I have the other problem . I am to much of a ASL speaker in the both tongue and sign . I have people ask all the time you Deaf ?
I am wanting to become able to legal and professionally work in the Deaf community . I have also taken some college courses in the program .
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Unread 05-03-2006, 02:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josey
HI,
I have the other problem . I am to much of a ASL speaker in the both tongue and sign . I have people ask all the time you Deaf ?
I am wanting to become able to legal and professionally work in the Deaf community . I have also taken some college courses in the program .
You sound like that person I met at the workshop I was talking about earlier. You're obviously a fluent or native-like speaker and that is great! But the other side of the coin is fluency/proficiency in English, as well as the ability to handle all the processing tasks that are required of interpreters. And if you're already aware of your limitations and are taking classes, it seems to me you're really going the right route.

What also might be difficult for you -- and I'm going off what other CODAs have said, this is not personal experience -- is being able to stay neutral. Interpreters are advocates for their deaf clients because of the inherent power difference between deaf and hearing (most of the time anyway) but it's important to remember that the hearing clients deserve respect as well. I have seen interpreters chatting and laughing away with their deaf clients at the expense of the hearing client -- DURING a job, that is, not afterwards -- and the hearing client was well aware of it but couldn't do anything about it. That to me is not ethical, no matter how much you identify with the deaf community.

(If it happens off-duty, that's different. An interpreter friend and I made use of ASL when we were being totally screwed over by a gym owner one time...not that we pretended we were deaf but we discussed the guy's lies and what to do about them without his being able to understand a thing.)

Anyway, I'm rambling, but it sounds like if you've already taken some classes then you are on the right track! Good luck to you, hope it works out.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 02:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interpretrator
What also might be difficult for you -- and I'm going off what other CODAs have said, this is not personal experience -- is being able to stay neutral. Interpreters are advocates for their deaf clients because of the inherent power difference between deaf and hearing (most of the time anyway) but it's important to remember that the hearing clients deserve respect as well. I have seen interpreters chatting and laughing away with their deaf clients at the expense of the hearing client -- DURING a job, that is, not afterwards -- and the hearing client was well aware of it but couldn't do anything about it. That to me is not ethical, no matter how much you identify with the deaf community.
A woman I used to work with is a CODA (I won't get into my personal opinion of her skills) and she was constantly taking over the Deaf person's role and claiming it was "advocating" for them. Drove me crazy every time I had to team with her, which was often.

I also have seen chatting, by CODAs and non-CODAs. The only times it is appropriate to do that is (1) if there's a break and the Deaf person wants to chit-chat about the weather with the interpreter, and (2) if clarification is needed and the interpreter already has enough information to clarify and just needs to rephrase what they already interpreted. In the latter situation, it's perfectly appropriate for the interpreter to address the Deaf client individually.
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Unread 05-03-2006, 04:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etoile
A woman I used to work with is a CODA (I won't get into my personal opinion of her skills) and she was constantly taking over the Deaf person's role and claiming it was "advocating" for them. Drove me crazy every time I had to team with her, which was often.
That was the issue I have heard CODAs talk about, how they had to get over that feeling when working professionally. I think we ALL have to self-monitor for this kind of behavior but it sounds like it's even more important for CODAs, or at least this is what I have heard from a couple of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Etoile
The only times it is appropriate to do that is (1) if there's a break and the Deaf person wants to chit-chat about the weather with the interpreter, and (2) if clarification is needed and the interpreter already has enough information to clarify and just needs to rephrase what they already interpreted. In the latter situation, it's perfectly appropriate for the interpreter to address the Deaf client individually.
I think that's very well said. The only thing I disagree with is that when it comes to interpreting I never seem to be able to use words like "only," "always," and "never," because as soon as I do some perfectly valid exception pops up! But generally I agree. This is why I keep a book with me at all times so in case students are supposed to be working individually and I end up with a chatty student, I can just read my book as a signal that it's not conversation time. (I know some would say "just tell the student it's not appropriate" but I'm pretty sure they're AWARE of the rules...)
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Unread 05-08-2006, 09:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interpretrator
Use of a deviation from standard American English doesn't necessarily mean lack of proficiency.
I'm not stupid, so please stop treating me like I am.
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Unread 05-08-2006, 10:36 PM   #11
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haha
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Unread 05-09-2006, 06:50 AM   #12
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Let's get off point here for a minute. When I grew up learning, fiddling around with and built electronics and computers devices, that rendered me as "Computer whiz". I knew computers from scratch, except in some areas such as assembly language (asm). With impressive background I have, I considered myself "qualified" to find a job without college degree, therefore that would make sense. That doesn't necessarily make myself *MORE* qualified than those who graduated with a degree. There are other factors to consider: Do I know accounting? management? mathematics? english language? and so on. Those are the important factors that makes me a successful candidate for employers who seeks a computer expert that *ALSO* know business codes, jargons, rules and what's what. College degree *IS* required for most companies, because college prepare us to expect what is expected of employers with little or no training required for transitions.

The same is true with CODA, being CODA does'nt necessarily qualify themselves as an interpreter. What do they know about code of ethics? Variance in styles, cultures and moral values (they DO vary in states!) And so many things that are required by RID. CODA are lucky in knowing sign language and might attend training for a short while, but attending training will help them to become a better interpreter, exactly knowing what it is like to be in deaf culture by themselves.
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Unread 05-09-2006, 12:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gnulinuxman
I'm not stupid, so please stop treating me like I am.
I was continuing the conversation about proficiency in English. I wasn't treating you like you were stupid, so please stop assuming that I am.
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Unread 05-09-2006, 12:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LinuxGold
Let's get off point here for a minute.
I dunno, that doesn't seem off point at all. That seemed like a really good analogy to me.
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Unread 05-11-2006, 07:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interpretrator
I dunno, that doesn't seem off point at all. That seemed like a really good analogy to me.
Thanks
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Unread 05-12-2006, 04:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LinuxGold
Let's get off point here for a minute. When I grew up learning, fiddling around with and built electronics and computers devices, that rendered me as "Computer whiz". I knew computers from scratch, except in some areas such as assembly language (asm). With impressive background I have, I considered myself "qualified" to find a job without college degree, therefore that would make sense. That doesn't necessarily make myself *MORE* qualified than those who graduated with a degree. There are other factors to consider: Do I know accounting? management? mathematics? english language? and so on. Those are the important factors that makes me a successful candidate for employers who seeks a computer expert that *ALSO* know business codes, jargons, rules and what's what. College degree *IS* required for most companies, because college prepare us to expect what is expected of employers with little or no training required for transitions.

The same is true with CODA, being CODA does'nt necessarily qualify themselves as an interpreter. What do they know about code of ethics? Variance in styles, cultures and moral values (they DO vary in states!) And so many things that are required by RID. CODA are lucky in knowing sign language and might attend training for a short while, but attending training will help them to become a better interpreter, exactly knowing what it is like to be in deaf culture by themselves.
A very interesting point here.

As a side note, that's almost exactly how I started in computers myself. In college I'm learning the "gaps" (networking wasn't my strong suit until I took networking class, rfor example).

But the point still stands--just because you grew up doing it doesn't mean you're automatically qualified to do it. I am continuing to learn more of the "gaps" in my past experience as well as business stuff (econ, communications, etc).
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Unread 05-16-2006, 06:10 PM   #17
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I've had a CODA interpreter in a ITP with me, and it's been a very interesting experience.
The CODA had never taken any ASL or intepreting classes before, this was all new to her. She grew up interpreting for her parents, neither of whom had finished high school.
She took one semester of the ITP program and dropped it because, "it wasn't for her" and " she needed to learn someplace else."
She came in with a very narrow perspective without an open mind. She saw, and sees, ASL as the language where you "take out all the words you don't need, and just put in what you can see, touch, smell, and taste." She says we don't need all this interpreter training/ brain analysis stuff, "you just do it." We had a skilled interpreting teacher, though not a CODA, and this woman said, "I can't learn from her, she doesn't do it right." She stubbornly was a thorn in that teacher's side the entire semester.
Here was this woman who had been interpreting over 30 years, whom our class could have learned so much from, who made the class much more difficult. It was totally interesting though to see her perspective compared to the majority of the class, which was the "I learned ASL in college" group. There were some in the class who had learned it in some way growing up, but no others were CODAs.
She proved that not all CODA's really understand ASL or deaf culture, and that not all CODA's make good interpreters. I very much respect her as a person, she is a very nice woman, but an ITP was not made for her.
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Unread 05-16-2006, 09:50 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signer16
She came in with a very narrow perspective without an open mind. She saw, and sees, ASL as the language where you "take out all the words you don't need, and just put in what you can see, touch, smell, and taste." She says we don't need all this interpreter training/ brain analysis stuff, "you just do it."
To me she doesn't sound closed-minded exactly, she just doesn't have a good understanding of ASL linguistics. You're right that an ITP probably isn't her thing because when you start to analyze something you know really well, often it starts disrupting the process. She doesn't have the metalinguistic knowledge that is taught in ITPs but if she signs like a native and is a native bilingual, it simply might not be necessary for her.

If she's been interpreting for 30 years...the interpreting profession has changed dramatically since then. I imagine what would happen in 30 years if it was determined that, let's say, a computer simulation program was actually the best way to train interpreters. I'd probably be going "what is this? You don't need all that ridiculous stuff" from my 2006 standpoint.
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Unread 05-17-2006, 07:16 AM   #19
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Ah, but I think you've pinpointed why attending an ITP or other interpreting-related education is so essential.

RID requires continuing education because our profession changes. Once you are certified, you stay certified, but you have to have continuing education (CEU's). If you got certified (or started interpreting) 30 years ago, a lot has changed. That's why we read VIEWS, too - to stay atop of changes and trends in the interpreting world.
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Unread 05-17-2006, 11:00 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etoile
Ah, but I think you've pinpointed why attending an ITP or other interpreting-related education is so essential.

RID requires continuing education because our profession changes. Once you are certified, you stay certified, but you have to have continuing education (CEU's). If you got certified (or started interpreting) 30 years ago, a lot has changed. That's why we read VIEWS, too - to stay atop of changes and trends in the interpreting world.
That's an appropriate modern viewpoint, but I still can't help seeing it from this woman's point of view. Interpreting was barely a profession 30 years ago and there were plenty of people who came to it as CODAs who had been "interpreters" for years already but never called themselves that. The original post didn't mention her being certified and very likely she isn't. There are still old-school interpreters out there who have been grandfathered into their programs (such as educational interpreting) because of their seniority. In some cases this is a mistake. Not having seen this woman's work, obviously I can't say that about her.

I'm not justifying lack of interpreter education in general, I'm just saying I can understand her perspective. Doing something that comes naturally for 30 years and then trying to fit into the mold of an ITP (which teaches you that NONE of this is supposed to come naturally) has got to be mind-boggling and very uncomfortable.

You're right that my computer simulation analogy breaks down because I would have kept up with current trends as I have been trained to do and thus I probably would have read a lot of literature regarding this "cyber-ITP." But it doesn't mean I'd believe in it!
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Unread 05-22-2006, 03:15 AM   #21
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so a bit off track here but

I have been "forced " out of my career and need a new one so does anyone think that I would stand a chance getting any certifaction level at this point ?

I have sent away for a franschinse of sorts with the ASl so I am waiting now for that .

any help would be great and any testing info or guide inof would be also
kim
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Unread 05-22-2006, 03:59 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signer16
I've had a CODA interpreter in a ITP with me, and it's been a very interesting experience.
The CODA had never taken any ASL or intepreting classes before, this was all new to her. She grew up interpreting for her parents, neither of whom had finished high school.
She took one semester of the ITP program and dropped it because, "it wasn't for her" and " she needed to learn someplace else."
She came in with a very narrow perspective without an open mind. She saw, and sees, ASL as the language where you "take out all the words you don't need, and just put in what you can see, touch, smell, and taste." She says we don't need all this interpreter training/ brain analysis stuff, "you just do it." We had a skilled interpreting teacher, though not a CODA, and this woman said, "I can't learn from her, she doesn't do it right." She stubbornly was a thorn in that teacher's side the entire semester.
Here was this woman who had been interpreting over 30 years, whom our class could have learned so much from, who made the class much more difficult. It was totally interesting though to see her perspective compared to the majority of the class, which was the "I learned ASL in college" group. There were some in the class who had learned it in some way growing up, but no others were CODAs.
She proved that not all CODA's really understand ASL or deaf culture, and that not all CODA's make good interpreters. I very much respect her as a person, she is a very nice woman, but an ITP was not made for her.
She seems to prove that interpreters need to have open minds. I had a similar experience in Spanish class when they had this brat skip 4 levels of Spanish classes because she grew up with it, and she was one of the worst in the class to work with for that reason.

but I don't think that should be allowed in public schools. If they want a foreign language credit, they should earn it by learning another language...
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Unread 05-22-2006, 06:03 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by gnulinuxman
but I don't think that should be allowed in public schools. If they want a foreign language credit, they should earn it by learning another language...
I skipped a year of German in high school for similar reasons (lived in Germany for a year when I was young). Started second semester, too, so really a year and a half. I didn't get credit for the year and a half I skipped, nor should I have; but there would have been no point in sitting through 3 semesters of class with material I already knew. I finished taking German 3 with honors; I got two years of foreign language credits (1.5 from the German classes I took, and .5 from the French class I took) - that's how the system usually works.
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Unread 05-25-2006, 07:51 PM   #24
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I work in VRS (obviously from the SN.) I would say on probably a daily basis I have at least one caller who asks me after the call if my parents are deaf. So, usually I just smile and say "I'm sorry, I can't give any personal information." and they almost always say "Your parents are deaf! I know. I can tell!" Sometimes I ask what gave them that impression, and they say my signing style, and just by watching me, they can "tell" my skill. I usually smile and thank them without breaking company policy.
That's always one of the best compliments (to me) that I get.

I have never stepped foot in an ITP classroom. I am at the highest state level certification for my state(not that that says much), and I just recently passed the written NIC (the new RID) test, and am preparing for the performance.

I don't think anyone can generalize one way or the other. I've gotten nothing but compliments, and a lot of "I prefer you than other."



And yes. My family is deaf.
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Unread 05-25-2006, 08:01 PM   #25
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I also had to comment on the foreign language thing...

My cousin, who is also a coda, was started at ASL 1 in her college class. Fingerspelling. GREAT.

I see nothing wrong with jumping up some levels if you are beyond that level. ESPECIALLY when you're paying for the classes. It's the same as testing out of any other class.
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Unread 05-25-2006, 08:09 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrsterp
"I prefer you than other."
I hate this. I respect a Deaf client's right to have their preferred interpreter, but I hate when they tell you. If it's said to me, I feel bad for my fellow interpreters. If it's said about me, especially in front of me, it makes me feel awful. I don't think a Deaf person should tell the interpreter what they think about them or other terps. That information should be between the Deaf client and the interpreting agency.
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Unread 05-25-2006, 10:03 PM   #27
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My post was pertaining to VRS. But I do understand your point. If anyone said that about me, and i heard about it or saw it, i'd feel horrible. But this is VRS and our interpreters are all over the country.


And personally I like it when I get compliments.

I was just making a point that sometimes deaf people DO prefer codas. Ive had some say that to me specifically.
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Unread 05-25-2006, 11:24 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Etoile
I hate this. I respect a Deaf client's right to have their preferred interpreter, but I hate when they tell you. If it's said to me, I feel bad for my fellow interpreters. If it's said about me, especially in front of me, it makes me feel awful. I don't think a Deaf person should tell the interpreter what they think about them or other terps. That information should be between the Deaf client and the interpreting agency.
I don't like it when it's said in front of other people, whether they're people I work with or not. I also understand that sometimes uncomfortable situations come up, like last week when I was interpreting a banquet for my work and a deaf co-worker had to say something on stage. We'd already discussed that I'd be voicing for her since she doesn't trust other people as much, but the person doing the on-stage interpreting at that time took the microphone. She had to tell him she'd prefer me, because she knew he'd screw it up.

Like I said, I typically don't like being told this in front of any other interpreters, but I don't mind compliments on the side.
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Unread 05-27-2006, 11:35 AM   #29
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I get the same comments from Deaf VRS users when they get me as their interpreter. They ask me if my parents are deaf, and my reply is the same. I can't reveal any personal information - company policy. They then tell me stories about other interpreters that they feel didn't do a good job. They smile and thank me.

My family is not deaf. I learned sign language in college and from deaf friends.

So when they prefer coda interpreters, is that just another way of saying, "I prefer someone that I can understand, and s/he understands me?"

Often codas are fantastic terps. Sometimes, they are not. Would VRS users want an unskilled coda over a skilled interpreter whose native language isn't ASL?
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Unread 05-27-2006, 05:08 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwosigns
Would VRS users want an unskilled coda over a skilled interpreter whose native language isn't ASL?
Well said. And not just VRS users either. Although I would imagine some people might in fact prefer that. I hope the interpreters they end up with at least have solid ethical practices.

Skilled CODA interpreters, though, such as one of my ITP instructors...just wow.
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