Thursday, February 18, 2010

Learning Sign-to-Voice Interpreting: MIND THE GAP!

Here's three steps to becoming an awesome sign-to-voice interpreter:

1. Always look at the deaf person
2. Understand everything he or she signs
3. Say it in perfect English.

That's it. Now go out and conquer the world.

But wait, there must be more to it than that!

In the typical sign to voice class. all too often the student is asked to do step 3, before he or she can even follow step #1.

And step one in more sophisticated terms is to have the visual acuity/tracking skills to be able to take in all of the information that is on the surface and embedded in a signed narrative. In short, the average beginning student cannot even SEE the signs.

Scene from an actual class

Me (the teacher): Notice how the deaf signer's head goes slightly back and the eye gaze changes, that indicates a relative clause, so you know that's not a new idea, but an expansion on the topic.

Ted (the student): What? Where? The eyes changed? I didn't see it.

Me: Let's look again.

Ted: (puzzled expression)

: Again?

Ted: Ohhhh, now I see it.

Before students are asked to voice or even UNDERSTAND the signed message, they have to be trained TO SEE, TO NOTICE, TO PROCESS the visual information.

This is a big gap in how voicing is generally taught. Perhaps it is more than a gap....perhaps it is a sinkhole. A very significant bottomless sinkhole--because believe me, once you miss that aspect of your skill acquisition, I promise you will spend years trying to catch up,

In my opinion, the way most ITP teach voicing is "FIRE, AIM, READY"


Anonymous said...

Sink or swim, baby!

Before you start voicing, you should have lots and lots of practice conversing with deaf people and communicating in ASL. Good receptive skill is a MUST before you can even start trying to voice.

I totally get what you're saying though.

I'm a terp, and you're number one really made me laugh. I don't know WHAT is wrong with me lately, but I have been taking my eyes off the deaf person when I am interpreting interactively. Like, what the heck? I don't know why that is so hard. It seems simple, but no. I guess subconciously I don't want to freak the deaf person out by staring at them the whole time, but it sure makes effective communication difficult! Haha, thanks for the post.

Faith Georgia said...

That #1 is a tricky step. Sometimes you can't even BLINK!

Lynne Wiesman said...

Good going on this Faith!!! Two thing:

It's all about language, I think that one goes first - if you come to this with faulty language (which we all have), it will impact your interpreting 100-fold! Mind your language first before even starting the business of working. We build on these horrible habits we have and it's difficult to unpack the layers of interpreting, language, interpersonal, and anomalous skills that lead to the interpretation when it is effective or flawed.

Second, a friend - Pamela Whitney said something in a CD workshop she developed for me and it's true for language and interpreting "Know the end of your sentence before you begin it." Doing and teaching that ONE thing has meant the difference in some sentences that make no sense.

Glad to see you have done this Faith, I'll have students read it!

Anonymous said...

Right on, Faith! In my voicing workshop, we take one sample and watch it numerous times. It's amazing how much you uncover with each viewing. The next step is being "catch" it all on first viewing. Gee, interpreting is an active process!

Faith Georgia said...

Now if we could all just clone ourselves!

deafriendlee said...

Hi Faith! So glad you're doing this! Fantastic!

Don & Emily said...

Awesome points, Faith. I knew I would love your posts.

Carley said...

Okay so I used to get pissed when referral services would ask "what's your deaf connection?" I suspect I got pissed cuz I didn't really have one and the underlying assumption was that you couldn't interpret without native-language-skills. I didn't like CODAs for a long time after that. What I have come to realize and what your posts indicate, is that it is language we are lacking. Thank you Lynne, mind your language. How in hell can you interpret if you can't see/hear/discriminate the language????

You rock of course Faith.

Faith Georgia said...

Wait, referral services used to ask about a deaf connection? Wow, most places they just ask if you have reliable transportation.