Language & Communication2nd November 2014

Need an Interpreter or Translator - Try Before You Buy

New technology opens the door to video interviewing of BSL/English interpreters or translators

by Lynn Delfosse, RSLI

Technology makes a difference to many people’s lives and as an interpreter, I’ve seen how much it has developed over the years and the difference it can make in terms of access for Deaf people.

Recently, I received an email from a Deaf person from England who wanted to book an interpreter for her sister’s wedding in Wales.  She contacted interpreters who lived near the venue, then asked for a Face Time or Skype link-up to see if firstly she could understand the interpreter (she was worried that the Welsh regional dialect might be difficult to understand) and secondly to see how she connected with them on a personal level. We linked up and she said she would let me know, as she had others to ‘interview’.  I thought this was a fantastic and innovative way of booking interpreters, especially for something as ‘intimate’ as a wedding, where you share the day with someone who is in essence a complete stranger.  You want to at least know if you are going to get on with them, especially if you are the only Deaf person who is going to be there.

It isn't just me who thinks it is a good idea. Looking back on the 'try before you buy' procedure, Louise Gibson, the Deaf lady involved told me, "It was a brilliant way to book an interpreter and made it so accessible.  Another app that I use with my Deaf friends who don't have an iPhone and FaceTime is 'Glide'.  It's worth interpreters giving that a go too."

There have been some discussions on e-groups about interpreters having websites where they show their interpreting skills, so that Deaf people can check them out.  Many people argue that the interpreter will ‘perform’ differently depending on the setting and who is involved, and that the clip will go out of date as soon as it is on the site, as it is only a true reflection on how the interpreter performed on that particular day. You might click onto a site and see someone interpreting, but it might be 5 years old! Being able to link up using technology, gives Deaf people the opportunity to see and converse with the interpreter that day and ‘try before they buy’.  I think this is a fantastic way to use technology.

…Now, what am I going to wear to that wedding?

Article by Lynn Delfosse, RSLI

posted in Community / Language & Communication

2nd November 2014