Let me express myself from the sign language interpreter‘s point of view. Ako po ay isang sign language interpreter magmula pa nuong 1991. Lubos po akong sumasang-ayon sa sinabi ni Sir Lauro na ang mga sign language interpreters ay hindi personal assistants (PA) lamang ng mga deaf kahit na maraming mga tao ay ganun ang pananaw sa amin. Ang akala ng ilan ay napakadali ng aming ginagawa ngunit taliwas po ito sa katotohanan. Isipin nyo po na napakahirap na isalin ang isang wikang nakikita sa wikang binibigkas.
As interpreters, we have to be skilled in two to three or even four languages. The process of converting spoken language into visual and vice versa requires a very high skill. Every hand movement entails a different and oftentimes idiosyncratic meaning. And we have to mentally process the deaf signs into spoken words at breakneck speed in order not to have dead air. Try moving your hands while talking and making sense out of it. That’s way too difficult.
We have been striving to professionalize interpreters in order to remove the notion that since we chose this to be our “mission”, then we must work without expecting anything in return. That’s one of the reasons why there are only a handful of full time interpreters in the country. We are either working as teachers or other day jobs and doing interpreting only on the side. Otherwise we would all die of starvation. And more often the government does not recognize that. They call deaf participants to attend their meetings and conferences yet they don’t see the need to hire interpreters. They believe it’s the deaf’s responsibility to do that. Minsan pa nga pag kinuha ang serbisyo namin e nakikipagtawaran pa sa amin parang bumibili ng isda sa palengke.
That’s why we recently organized an interpreters group called Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (PNASLI) in order to address that issue. We want people to view our work as a service profession. We must be properly compensated especially when we interpret in highly delicate situations like court cases which places both the deaf and the interpreter at risk. Giving the right pay for the service is one way of encouraging others to venture out into interpreting field at para dumami naman kami.
I agree with some comments here saying that it’s the Deaf’s right to get the services of sl interpreters. As an administrator of a college for the deaf for 18 years, I have dealt with many deaf students from various educational, family, cognitive, age and even social backgrounds. I have met some students who are at par or even better than the likes of Raph Torralba, Jose Sales and George Lintag. But these wonderfully blessed deaf people are the exceptions and not the norm.
Higit na nakararami pong mga bingi ang walang kakayahan na katulad nila Raph. Kaya higit na nakararami po sa kanila ang nangangailangan ng serbisyo ng sign language interpreters. Kaya hangga’t walang iba pang nakikitang kongkretong solusyon upang maibsan ang communications barrier ng mga deaf, bigyan naman po sana natin ng halaga ang mga taong katulad namin na handang tumulong upang higit nilang maunawaan ang mundo at maunawaan din sila ng mundo. 🙂
PS: This is my response email to issues raised at This_abled_phils Yahoogroup about the necessity of a sign language interpreter in improving the lives of deaf people and branding a sign language interpreters as Personal Assistants.
- Going Deaf way or stick with the hearing world? (deafphilippines.wordpress.com)
- Solon urges Supreme Court to Allocate Funds for Sign Language Interpreters (deafphilippines.wordpress.com)
- Defending the Deaf Rights (deafphilippines.wordpress.com)