Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

some gigs are just fun!

July 15th, 2004

What a blast! I was the solo interpreter at a mixed (deaf/hearing) community event and spent most of the time with three ASL-users and one non-signing deaf person, simultaneously encouraging and interpreting their interaction. It’d get tricky when I had to also interpret for hearing people – going back and forth among spoken English, ASL, and mouthed English for lipreading. One can’t work in any kind of formal interpreter role in this setting – lots of facilitating and group management. I probably wouldn’t be so bold in a setting where I didn’t know the people so well, but these are people who LOOK at each other practically every day and never get to converse. So the social scene allowed for connections that never become possible any other way. So I deliberately interpreted all those comments directed at me and got them talking with each other. When I noticed one or another of them watching hearing people, I’d pop over to the hearies and ask if they minded, then I’d interpret and get the hearies and deafies talking with each other. I have to say there was a fair amount of actual interaction! Lots of teasing, too. 🙂
Social events are among the hardest to work, I think, because even in same-language groups folks are often awkward and uncomfortable. In a mixed language setting, no one is “in charge” or telling folks what they ought to do or whom they should speak with, so the inevitable drifting into segregated groups occurs usually quite rapidly. The unique demographic tonight was the oral deaf with the signing deaf and their curiousity about each other which is rarely (if ever) bridged. Once they were talking with each other, I was working, and it was much easier to extend that work to include the hearies. I had plenty of the 1:1 stuff that feels so good, but not at the expense of cross-cultural interaction.
Anyway, I laughed A LOT, and that is always a good thing. 🙂

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