Sunday, February 14, 2010

Interpreting Today -- The Celebration of Mediocrity

In any field or profession, there will always be those who excel beyond the expected, out-perform the crowd.

Not everyone has to be a superstar; it is also okay to be qualified, skilled, able, competent and clear.

What is see in the intpreting world right now though, is an abundance of "GOOD-ENOUGH."

There's so much of that around, that I believe more people have forgotten what minimum competency looks like.

When a good interpreter comes to an assignment and actually signs something approximating ASL, she is seen as "crackerjack."

Mediocre then looks pretty good.

And the field celebrates those who are barely qualified.

They scream, "We are NATIONALLY CERTIFIED!" Nationally certified equals approved by an organization as having the basic skills necessary to work professionally, not that you are GOOD, COMPETENT or ABLE in any one situation.

I'm tired of us celebrating mediocracy.

People should feel a certain professional pressure to rise up. Instead by being given prime assignments and not having to get consumer feedback and not being monitored by interpreter provider agencies and being assigned to assignments by people unqualified to judge...we continue the lowering of the bar.

Interpreters HEAL THYSELVES.

Get a grip on your skill level and stop feeling entitled to take assignments just because you are offered them.


Anonymous said...

Wow Faith! As a deaf person I am enlightened to hear this coming from an interpreter. So many times it is frustrating to sit and watch an interpreter who insists on following through with the assignment not really thinking about whether they can handle the assignment and if the deaf person is getting anything being transmitted. It is not easy to tell an interpreter that you only understand about half of what they said because they don't see themselves. I've learned, it's sometimes easier to snap a short video and let the interpreter see themselves and then ask them what they think. Many times, they're at a loss for words because their skill is not where they thought it was. There is always room for growth, vocabulary increase and improvement!!!

Anonymous said...

True words spoken here.

In addition to encouraging all interpreters to use video (sans the obfuscating spoken source) to see and reflect on what others see, I think that we need to elongate the birthing process for entry-level interpreters. I did not learn to be an interpreter in a vacuum. Nor did I wait until I had ALL the answers to go to work. There are some things that can only be learned on the job. And it's always going to be a learning process. It's gotta start somewhere.

I did not make the decision about when I went to work, where, or when I took the hot-seat--I had some pretty good supervision. ;)

So now I ask where are the supervisors, the watchful eyes, the thoughtful trainers in the community of professionals. How do we TRAIN the trainers?-- because loose cannons are no good.

Where are the seasoned professionals engaged in scholarly reflection about interpreting? And the conversations with consumers about their needs and expectations?

These things have to be happening somewhere. Time to go wide!

Faith Georgia said...

Your comment has inspired me!