Here we summarize points made by Deaf Interpreter focus group participants regarding the formal interpreter preparation.
Focus group participants stated their belief that current opportunities for formal preparation of Deaf Interpreters were insufficient. Deaf people wanting to become Deaf Interpreters have been creating their own training processes and “successful training” is measured by customer satisfaction. It takes assertiveness to identify needed training opportunities, workshops, classes, and reading material. Some Deaf Interpreters have gone on to, for example, become certified, earn BA degrees, and participate in other continuing education and in-service training post- certification. Participants observed that volunteer interpreting is one way to hone skills, and consumers are less critical or judgmental of the work of volunteers. Experience of volunteering might lead to a decision to make it a career.
Desire for a Professional Community for Deaf Interpreters
There appeared to be consensus that there is an urgent need for Deaf Interpreters to have a forum within which they can engage in mutual exploration of their practice and mentoring. Especially in the absence of dependable professional development, it is important to be able to discuss interpreting experiences, and trials and errors, with other Deaf Interpreters, and learn from each other in a confidential setting.
Absence of Deaf Interpreter Preparation in Traditional Programs
Traditional Interpreter Preparation Programs (IPPs) were seen as not including curriculum and instruction related to the specialized role(s) Deaf Interpreters play in the communication/interpreting process. There is no vision, formal training, or practicum opportunity to support Deaf Interpreters and no program designed for Deaf Interpreter students to dig deeply into the aspect of the field they serve.
Alternative Educational Opportunities
Educational opportunities outside of traditional, formal, interpreter education programs were seen as useful, and additional thoughts covered a range of gaps and possibilities. Participants suggested that:
RID Certification Written Exam Issues
While there was a belief expressed that certification is important, it was reported that there is much negative communication in the emerging community of practice that interpreting certification not worth pursuing. A major disincentive is that the costs of preparation for the exams, travel to the exams and to workshops offering CEUS, and various fees are disproportionately high for Deaf Interpreters because of their limited opportunities for work and earnings.
For those who do pursue certification, the need for a study group for Deaf Interpreters preparing for the exam was expressed. They are seen as having issues and questions beyond typical study groups.