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After finding that her doctor’s appointment is delayed, Betty Hastings stops into the pharmacy to ask some questions related to osteoporosis.

The Original Interpretation

This video shows the original interpretation created by Kim Johnson during the filming. Be sure to read her reflections in the study packet before moving on.


Reflection on Interpretation

by Kim Johnson

Before the Assignment/Preparations:

From the moment I accept an assignment, the wheels begin to turn in my head. I start brainstorming about the communication preferences of the consumers involved, possible fingerspelling and terminology/vocabulary that will be discussed both in English and Sign Language, and also possible conclusions of what could happen at the assignment. On the day of the assignment I review my notes and my thoughts to help me better prepare for my day. While driving to the assignment, I have found that over-thinking/ processing the assignment is not good for me or my nerves. If I’m not ready by the time I am driving to the assignment, cramming won’t help…at least that’s what I learned as I grew up! I tend to listen to an upbeat song to loosen up.

Arriving at the Assignment:

I put my “home life” on the passenger seat and my “interpreter hat” on! When my seatbelt comes off and the car door opens, I am from that point on…seen as the working interpreter. I continue to be in that role until the car door shuts and I am putting my seatbelt back on once the assignment is completed. I remember walking into the clinic and seeing the deaf consumer sitting in the waiting room. I chatted briefly with the deaf consumer. Meeting with the consumer prior to the assignment is always beneficial. I knew her style preference and felt very comfortable going into the present situation with her. We discussed what was about to happen and then went into the pharmacy together.

The Assignment:

Nerves were all a flutter for both the deaf consumer and myself. I was both concerned with the cameras and that also the interpreting situation that would be recorded and that the whole world would be watching me on the big screen…..Ready, set, GO, no take-backs!!! I was also thinking about the specific consumer I was working with. I have worked with this deaf consumer in the past and know that she jumps from one point to another, and rarely will indicate that she is changing topics until she has already added her comments.

I made several choices throughout the interaction that now looking back, if I had more time, or had allowed myself a little more processing time, I think I would have produced things a bit differently. I believe the interaction was as true to reality as possible and was done “on the fly” as is most every other interpretation that is attempted.

For example if given the second chance, I would make a better choice to explain the concept of “risk” instead of just fingerspelling it. Secondly, I would have fingerspelled osteoporosis a few more times before setting up the sign with the consumer. I remember my reasoning for setting up the sign was mainly because I was unsure of the spelling.

I am very proud of one of the classifiers I chose to use. The classifier showing osteoporosis with the fist and arm curving down to show the hump in the back was very visual. I remember at the time thinking, “Wow, that worked!! Remember that one!!!”

I also noticed that my processing time was very close to the message and I could have backed off a little bit to give more meaning to the voicing. During a comment the consumer was talking about having surgery to remove her voice box but would miss talking with her grandchildren. I admit I was lost and should have stopped the consumer and asked her to clarify. I was unsure where she was going with her point and wanted to wait until I had a better understanding of her point. As she continued to sign, I remember struggling to make sense of her signing, but I continued on with my interpretation even though the message was not equivalent.

Another chunk that I would have improved on was the transitions and being more clear when the topics did change. Perhaps stopping the consumer to clarify and to ask if we were still discussing the main topic or going onto a side comment would have been a better approach.
I know from this interaction that I also need to create strategies to improve my dealing with the aspect of silence. My concentration was completely interrupted the moment the pharmacist looked at me. I lost the thought I had, and trying to recover was unbearable. I remember the feeling of, “Oh no he just looked at me and I missed what the consumer was signing. What the heck do I do now???” And of course this all happened in a split second, so right away I was, in the “umm-umm mode” and trying to recover my work. I know that we are all human and for the pharmacist to completely ignore me being there would not be right, but I find it more effective for my work to have his focus be on the Deaf person.

The consumer also made a comment regarding her age to Doug Bowen- Bailey, who was filming and I missed that she was talking to Doug, so I voiced her comment to the pharmacist.    I believe that the pharmacist was thrown off just as much as I was and he didn’t respond. He just nodded his head.

In the end, I felt that the interpretation matched the register of the consumer. As I indicated earlier, I have worked with this consumer before and I am very comfortable with her style. It is always difficult working with consumers because of the information that is shared versus not shared. For example, we all go into a situation knowing what we want to accomplish, but while in the interaction other thoughts come to mind. It is hard to hold onto a question until the end of a discussion and ask at that time for fear that you will forget your question.

The Drive Home:

Getting back into the car after the assignment is always a good time for reflection.    First, I always try to boost my self esteem with the positive things I did well in my interpretation. Then I make a few notes on things I would like to improve on or would have done differently.

Once this assignment was complete, overall I felt I had learned a lot and am ready to take on the next assignment with a bit more confidence and knowledge. I do admit that I found the reflection on my interpretation a good exercise and will incorporate that process into my regular routine after future interpreting assignments.

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