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They also provide teachers beginning level American Sign Language training. GI: What is a typical work schedule like for you? What kind of events do you cover as a sign language interpreter? Not just for Middle Tennessee, but everywhere? I also interpret for doctor's appointments, business meetings, job training's, and church services.
I have a 19 month old daughter that I try to stay at home with as much as possible but I do freelance to keep my skills up to date and bring in additional income for my family. GI: How far in advance do you know your schedule? In other words, are the events you cover known about well in advance? Is there a lot of last-minute, unexpected work?
JK: My class schedule is determined at the beginning of the semester, but could change last minute if the student makes changes to their schedule, the teacher makes changes to the schedule, etc. Things like Graduation and Convocation are scheduled months in advance. The community jobs are usually posted a week or two in advance but a lot of jobs are added last minute.
We have a hour cancellation policy so if a client doesn't show up for a class or appointments we are still paid since our time was reserved for that day and time. GI: Jaclyn, if I am a new event coordinator and I need to find a sign language interpreter for my ceremony, but my school does not have someone like you or your agency , where should I start? Are there any accreditations or certifications I should look for when searching for an interpreter? JK: The coordinator could do an internet search for an interpreting agency and find someone.
There are two main certification entities that interpreters can get their national certifications from.
Many states offer state level certifications as well. Local agencies, like Bridges in Nashville, already have a list of local and certified interpreters they could send. There are some nationwide agencies that fill assignments all over the country. GI: Is there any type of planning or coordination that takes place between you and the University prior to commencement?
For example, do you know approximately how many Deaf or hard of hearing graduates are expected to be at commencement? Or approximately where they may be sitting? I know beforehand if there are Deaf graduates. If there are, then I arrive a little earlier to interpret the announcements made during line up. I do not know where they will be sitting since we have never had anyone request to sit closer to the interpreter.
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They sit where they are assigned in the lineup. I do not usually know if there are any Deaf attendees in the audience. I try to sign a little bigger during commencement so my signs can be seen from farther distances. Are there any procedures or decorum that dictate where a sign language interpreter should stand during commencement? The important things are that the interpreter can be seen by the Deaf attendees, that we are placed in close approximation to the speakers and that we are not blocking anyone during the ceremony.
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Is that earpiece something that the school is expected to provide? Or is that equipment something you bring with you? MTSU provides the technology for the interpreters. GI: Is there anything about commencements that makes them either more difficult, or perhaps easier, to do your job that other types of events where you interpret? JK: Standing in one spot and interpreting on the stage is very tiring. Like I mentioned before, I try to make my signs bigger which also leads to fatigue. I still get a little nervous being in front of so many people. Being in such a big arena makes the acoustics difficult to hear at times but having the earpiece has helped.
GI: While graduates are being individually recognized on stage, their names, of course, are not interpreted.
Are there any other parts of a commencement ceremony that are typically not interpreted to sign language? JK: Some schools want the names interpreted during the commencement ceremony.
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I am grateful MTSU is not one of them! Each name would have to be finger spelled and if I was required to do that I would have to have a team interpreter with me to take turns every minutes due to fatigue.
I will ask any of the graduates who are Deaf if they would like for me to come to the foot of the stage and sign their name as it is announced. All other parts of the ceremony are interpreted.