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Should hard of hearing people become interpreters?
From: A 24-year old hard of hearing college student
To: Dr. Bill Vicars
Sent: Sat, Aug 17, 2019 7:25 am
Subject: Student from Texas
Hello! My name is _________. I am a student over at University of _____ in _____. The reason I'm emailing you because I need your advice! First I wanted to tell you a little about myself. I'm 24 year old and I am hard of hearing like you! I do wear hearing aids to help to hear a little better. I learned ASL when I was in elementary school then stop when they move me to another school. I relearn ASL again when I met Deaf worker at Walmart which where I work! I really enjoy learning ASL and feel really comfortable in that area. When it time to wanting to go school and get a career. I am freshman at ____ and they have one major in ASL which are pre-American Sign Language Interpreter. What is your advice on whether a hard of hearing person can become an interpreter? Would there be a demand for an interpreter who is hard of hearing? Have you ever took an ASL Interpreter program? Was it easy? Is it meant for me? I apologized to take your time and I hope to hear from you soon.
Sent from my iPhone
I would not recommend you setting your sights on becoming an interpreter. If you had been Deaf from birth and had Deaf (signing) parents you could have become a "CDI" (certified Deaf interpreter) -- but you were not born "Deaf of Deaf." You may become an amazing, fantastic signer -- but you will never have full-native skills like those of someone who signed from the crib. (Neither will I. Dang it. -- But I've done okay for myself and am now a world renowned expert (cough, cough) on signing. Ahem.) I "do" know of a fellow that had Hearing parents and later became a CDI though -- so I suppose "never say never."
However if you try to become a regular terp for Deaf folks -- the first time you try to interpret for a client sitting at a large table full of lots of people talking over each other -- sitting six or more feet away from you in a noisy conference room during lunch with people clinking glasses and talking with their mouths full of food -- you will be sorry (and frustrated).
Oh sure, it is fine to go through an interpreter program -- and even become certified if you can -- but I'm talking about long-term career plans -- you would perhaps be better off aiming at becoming an ASL teacher, an interpreter trainer, a Teacher of the Deaf, a school counselor, a social worker, a rehabilitation counselor, (or any of a hundred other careers).
- Dr. Bill
William G. Vicars Ed.D.
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