According to Cynthia B. Roy (1995), a SL Interpreter's role can be defined as professional if one has the following:
- Complete fluency in two languages (in this case, American Sign Language and English)
- Interpretation skills
- A wide general knowledge
- A knowledge of the field in which he/she interprets
- Bicultural sensitivity, and
- A highly developed sense of professionalism (137).
According to "Sylvia," a SL Interpreter: "Most conflict comes from consumers not knowing what my job is (or isn't!). This seems to arise from more hearing consumers than Deaf. Most Deaf know about interpreters and don't push the boundaries. Some hearing consumers become uncomfortable with me and the Deaf person, whereby the hearing become awkward, even demanding sometimes."
Yet, the boundaries do get crossed. For example, when the professional distance begins to be transformed into a personal relationship. This arises for many SL Interpreters working with Deaf clients (as well as hearing clients) as Sylvia emphasizes: "The longer you work with someone the harder it becomes to maintain a professional, detached stance. You can't help but get to know the people you work with, and often the Deaf consumer will talk with the interpreters more than the hearing people (and vice versa), which only deepens their bond."
Developing a mutual regard is not to be seen as something disadvantageous to either party since it often creates a sense of human connectedness to the other world desired by either the hearing or Deaf client. Such a growing appreciation for each other's different world is made possible by the interpreter. The interpreter's personal involvement, as long as it is within the confines of professional decorum, may benefit the hearing or Deaf client.
SL Interpreters are hired solely to facilitate the communication between hearing and Deaf clients. As a matter of fact, while hearing and Deaf persons converse, SL Interpreters need not be noticed, but treated as non-existence or invisible after the initial acknowledgments and introductions have been exchanged. Issues (in Canada) relative to SL interpreters include: government cutbacks, significant lack of students being attracted to the profession, lack of qualified SL interpreters and the demand on the part of the hearing and the Deaf world for interpreters.
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