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I just attended a whole day of Orientation events at Chapman University. I was thrilled to find that they had ASL interpreters for all the large group events with podium speakers! For the 1 1/2 hour long convocation ceremony, they even had a team! First of all, props to Chapman for understanding and paying for the services Deaf people need. That being said, I think they could improve their service even more.
My husband works at Chapman University, which means that I get to meet all sorts of behind-the-scene University people that most students don’t. At a wedding a while ago, I met the woman who was in charge of booking the interpreters for special events at Chapman. She told me that they were looking to improve the services they offered. I believe I told them about RID certification and how that was a really good way to know you have an amazing interpreter.
The interpreters yesterday were a mixed bag. I think they probably came from an agency, but really I’m just guessing. The first group I watched was a team of two women. The first woman was absolutely amazing and gave an equal-access interpretation. She was funny when the speaker was funny, extremely animated, and caught almost every bit of information being thrown out by the speaker. The second gal was not as good. To be fair, she was interpreting for a man using lots of folksy language and English idioms, but I felt that she didn’t match the speaker very well and she left out a lot of non-essential information.
The team did well, though. I hardly noticed when they switched between each other and they even kept interpreting through the non-captioned video that was shown. I was thoroughly impressed.
That night, I went to a talk on the History and Traditions of Chapman University. It was such a cool and funny class. I was sitting in a really bad place to watch the interpreter (there were very tall people all around me and she was standing on the floor). While I can’t really comment on the rest of the interpreting job she was doing, she didn’t interpret through the non-captioned movie, which I didn’t appreciate.
The two bits of advice I would have to Chapman about using interpreters in the future would be to ask the agency for people who are RID certified or have been interpreting more than five years. They do so much to make their students feel welcome, and I really think it would be such a relief for Deaf students to see that they were getting equal access to information being presented. It would make Deaf parents feel that they were leaving their student in the hands of someone who not only cares, but is willing to go above and beyond to meet the needs of their child.
The second piece of advice would be to put those interpreters on a podium, please!! I’d like to be able to see them no matter where I was sitting, and a little elevation will do just that.
Chapman University is a class act. For people who know next to nothing about interpreters or interpreting, they did really well! I was impressed by everything I saw yesterday, not just the interpreters. Watching their interpreters made me feel like they really cared, though. They really wanted everyone to have a good experience at orientation, not just the “normal” hearing freshmen. I think I’m going to like attending here!