A Deaf Interpreter is a specialist who provides interpretation and transliteration services, most commonly between a signed language and other visual and tactual communication forms used by individuals who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind; translation between a signed language and written texts; and interpretation between two signed languages. This document delineates the competencies required of the Deaf Interpreter based upon studies conducted by the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC). The delineation refers broadly to generic and specialty area competencies required of all interpreters, and then delves more deeply into the unique aptitudes, formative experiences, and competencies that differentiate Deaf Interpreters from their hearing counterparts.
Three NCIEC studies of current Deaf Interpreter practice inform this work: A national survey of 196 Deaf Interpreters conducted by the NCIEC in 2007 (NCIEC 2009c), six focus groups involving twenty-four working Deaf Interpreters from across the U.S. (NCIEC 2009a), and two focus groups including a total of twelve Deaf Interpreter educators (NCIEC 2009b). Key findings leading to the description of Deaf Interpreter competencies presented here are the following:
The NCIEC Deaf Interpreter Work Team comprising eight experts – Deaf Interpreters, educators, and researchers – developed the Competencies. Thirty colleagues offered diverse perspectives on earlier drafts. We believe this document captures the distinct knowledge and skills sets that the Deaf Interpreter brings to interpreted interactions. We intend that it be used as foundation for building curriculum for formal Deaf Interpreter preparation, as content for the education of hearing interpreters and the public on the process and benefits of working with Deaf Interpreters, and as the basis for developing testing content and procedures for credentialing of Deaf Interpreters.
It was my first time having both Deaf and hearing interpreters in my meeting with the director of my halfway house. My body felt more relaxed and I could honestly express what I wanted to say. I felt good as I knew I could trust their work. – Deaf consumer
Domains and competencies of generalist practice are delineated in Entry-to-Practice Competencies for ASL-English Interpreters (2005). These include a variety of linguistic, interactional, interpersonal, cognitive, technical, academic, affective, and creative competencies and professional attributes that ensure effective performance in routine situations. The effective Deaf Interpreter possesses these interpreting competencies:
Theory and Knowledge Competencies: Academic foundation and world knowledge essential to effective interpretation
Human Relations Competencies: Interpersonal competencies fostering effective communication and productive collaboration with colleagues, consumers, and employers
Language Skills Competencies: Required levels of fluency in languages in which the interpreter works
Interpreting Skills Competencies: Effective interpretation of a range of subject matter in a variety of settings
Professionalism Competencies: Professional standards and practices