Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Reynolds Faculty Serve the Commonwealth

During COVID-19 Crisis


There's a new face on the podium with Governor Ralph Northam as of his Press Conference, Monday, April 13.

Reynolds ASL&IE adjunct faculty Laura Hill takes over from previous interpreter, Reynolds ASL&IE faculty Carrie Humphrey (featured in the last edition of Reynolds Cares - read her story here). Laura and Carrie are part of an interpreting team serving the Commonwealth during the COVID-19 crisis.

Laura moved to Richmond last summer and joined Reynolds for the fall 2019 semester.

In case you were wondering why interpreters are present during important press conferences, Reynolds ASL&IE faculty Carrie Humphrey put together some background information detailing how the interpreting teams program got started and how it works. She writes:

The 5-decade old profession of ASL-English (sign language) interpreting continues to grow and mature. A relatively recent innovation is the incorporation of Deaf-Hearing interpreting teams. These teams are typically of two interpreters:

  • one interpreter is what the public is used to seeing - a person who can hear that is trained in working between the ASL and English to convey content and spirit; and,
  • one interpreter who is Deaf (DI = Deaf Interpreter) - who is a native user of ASL.

While this is not a new concept, the "how, when, and where" a team is used has gradually expanded. Initially, teams were used in legal situations to ensure a Deaf person's rights were protected. The use was expanded to life or death situations, particularly in the medical or mental health settings.  

As far as televised announcements during public safety emergencies, the trend to shift to incorporating Deaf-Hearing teams, where the DI is on camera, occurred in the wake of SuperStorm Sandy coverage (fall 2012). 

The "hearing interpreter" continues to do his or her job, and the DI accesses the information by interacting with the "hearing interpreter". As a native/primary user of ASL, the DI has crafts "a particular set of skills" intended to convey critical information, particularly in instances where the broad and diverse Deaf audience (some native ASL users others with varying ASL fluency) has limited time to comprehend critical and complex information and direction.

Initially, the interpreters at Governor Northam's press conferences were limited to adhering to "Social Distancing" protocol. Over the last several weeks, the plan was formulated to conform this public safety message to the norm of these interpreting teams.  Hence the new face ...