Dealing with Varying Ages

by Amy Williamson-Loga

Translation by Doug Bowen-Bailey

I recently interpreted a medical situation where the patient was a Deaf boy who was of middle-school age. His parents were also Deaf. Now, before I go into any situation, I spend some time thinking of how I can best match the language usage of the people I work with. If I feel there are going to be a variety of language levels in the audience, it can be a challenge to do that. Especially if you see some in the audience who are not understanding the interpretation at the same time as others clearly are.

So, I was thinking of how this dynamic would play out with a medical appointment with Deaf parents of a Deaf patient in middle school. So, before I went to interpret, I spent some time trying to strategize because this was my first time with this experience.

Ironically, my deliberation and worry were really unnecessary because the doctor took care of it. That doctor spoke directly to the patient and used language fitting for talking to someone his age, and then spoke to the parents using more fitting language for adults.

It did send me thinking about when I was young, growing up and going to the doctor with my parents and learning from the conversations the doctor had with my parents. So, in interpreting for the doctor and nurse talking with the parents, I did match their language use. I think the boy was able to generally understand the conversation, probably on par with who a hearing child would in listening to the conversation between a doctor and parents.