Reblog: interpreter’s viral moment misses the point (opinion) – CNN

Lilit Marcus, who is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), whose first language was American Sign Language, calls out hearing folks who are sharing the now-viral video of ASL interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego working at a Twista performance.
— Read on

I love this article. it reminds me of what I want to say to the 1,000 hearing people watching me while I interpret for a single Deaf person: “I’m here for them, not for you.”



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3 responses to “Reblog: interpreter’s viral moment misses the point (opinion) – CNN”

  1. Cliff Avatar

    I followed this a bit on twitter.
    One of the hearing folks who didn’t know ASL and perhaps felt unnecessarily attacked pointed out that it is not much different than appreciating music in a language you don’t speak. I felt her point was well taken. I feel like it is asking a bit much for people to withhold all judgment about something that “seems visually interesting” (sounds captivating) because they don’t understand the nuances or are not fluent in the language.

    That being said we have all been “appreciated” by those we believe could only have a very superficial or shallow appreciation, or are not qualified to fully appreciate.

    I have had comments from hearing people who didn’t know ASL who commented not on the content, but on the difference in “energy and animation” between two interpreters. I found their observations in those instances to be pretty accurate, though not necessarily nuanced.

    Fascinating discussion piece!


    1. Daniel Greene Avatar

      Thanks for your comment! We can’t stop people from appreciating us, can we? Honestly, though, I think most people forget there’s a Deaf person watching and they’re really the audience at which the interpretation is aimed. I’ve even seen other interpreters forget this. Heck, I even forget it sometimes when I am working with a team[mate] and I can see them but not the Deaf person – I see my team signing something (or not signing something) and I wonder why they did it that way, and then I try to sneak a peek at the Deaf person and I realize the Deaf person was either looking away or already got the point and needed no elaboration. Who am I to judge? And I know both languages, how to interpret between two languages, and at least one of the consumers. How much less in a position to judge is someone who knows only one of the languages, none of the consumers, and nothing about interpretation!

      I wonder sometimes how it would be if we were in a place where only the Deaf person could see us; for example, interpreters who work between two spoken languages at a conference speak into a microphone in a booth, and only the consumers wearing the headphones hear their interpretation. I think it would be interesting if an interpreter-in-a-bubble were broadcast on a separate band, like a closed caption, where a Deaf person could turn the “bubble” — a picture-in-picture (PiP) — on or off, and the rest of the viewers would only see the interpreter if they took the action of turning on the PiP.


      1. Cliff Avatar

        That is interesting to think about how often the spoken language interpreting is not in full view as it were.

        This interpreter in question has had a viral video at a concert in the past. I wonder how the Dynamics are shifting in some people’s minds to where this is just as much as show for the hearing audience member as it is a service for those deaf members of the audience.

        It’s all quite fascinating.


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