I find myself finally done with the ITP program and in my new career as an educational interpreter. I was dreading sharing the inevitable story of how I started in my profession and the Deaf community, mainly because I have no friends or family who are Deaf themselves. I found more often in my classes that the other students had some connection to the Deaf community before taking up study in ASL or interpreting. To my surprise I do not find myself in the minority any longer. Often I will be more in line with my peers in reason for starting interpreting and having no connections to the deaf community until after working in it. This made me curious.
It’s interesting to wonder what this means for the profession and the community that it serves. While learning about deaf culture I was told that there is a line I must make because I planned to become an interpreter. Up until that point, I was a learning member of the community. The interpreter’s tile carries more weight and responsibility. Dealing with the deaf community and their personal lives and information. My teachers stressed the importance of being professional even in social situations and to be careful of the line between friend and client. Not to say that your clients Connor be your friends, only to be careful. In this situation I feel there is more trust with interpreters that themselves are CODAs or that have Deaf family members and are accepted more freely than an interpreter that got into the profession from pure interest. I find this to be short sided. I can empathize with the Deaf community this feeling of camaraderie with interpreters that have grown up already in the Deaf world. Obviously I can never truly put myself in their shoes and will never understand the struggles they might have faced. But something should be said for the persons who have gone through the training and who have had to start from scratch.
In my experience CODAs have always had a leg up on me. This has only made me want to work harder. I have met wonderfully passionate interpreters that have been from both starts. For the interpreters who have started from no previous experience and have bravely entered a whole new world with Deaf culture, there is something to be said. These people actively choose this profession. Maybe like me they are doing what they love. Hopefully you might consider intentions before you write off a NERD (Not Even Related to Deaf) like myself.
This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views supported by The Deaf Dream.