'Subject To Interpretation' is a weekly podcast that deep dives into the topics that matter to interpreters.🎙
In this episode we speak with Paul Panusky on the parallels and intersections of spoken and sign language interpreters. Hosted by Maria Ceballos-Wallis.
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Paul Panusky is an attorney, mediator, interpreter, and presenter in Atlanta, GA.
Paul graduated Magna Cum Laude and in the top 10% of his class from Georgia State University, College of Law. Paul is an inductee into the order of the Coif and earned awards in contracts, forensic evidence, and as the best trial advocate. Paul also graduated with highest honors for Pro Bono work. The Panusky Law Firm currently focuses on criminal defense and family law but also handles a variety of other types of cases including premises liability, contract drafting, landlord/tenant, and ADA issues.
Paul holds generalist (NIC) and educational (Ed: K-12) interpreter certifications as well as a specialist certification in legal/court interpreting (SC:L) and is one of only 10 interpreters in Georgia and 338 interpreters in the country to hold an SC:L. Paul has interpreted all stages of civil and criminal matters in both state and Federal level courts. He has since focused his interpreting on a variety of legal settings such as trials, hearings, mediation, depositions, and specializing as an interpreter for counsel and consultant.
Paul has presented at conferences across the county on various topics including discourse analysis, ethics, interpreter processing, legal/courtroom interpreting, and working with an attorney as interpreter for counsel. Paul has presented to audiences such as students at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, certified interpreters, attorneys at the Department of Justice, and the National Legal Aid Defenders Association national conference.
Welcome to subject to interpretation, a podcast, which takes us deep into the topics that matter to professional interpreters. Welcome today. We're going to take a look at interpreting from the perspective of a dual practitioner, an interpreter who is also a lawyer. We'll talk about the intersection between spoken language and American sign language interpret and how both groups can come together to further professionalize the industry. Our guest today is Paul Penski . He's an attorney as well as an American sign language interpreter with various national certifications, including education legal. Now he's been an interpreter for almost 15 years, and during that time, he has also participated in language access advocacy. He has a background in psychology and he's also a registered neutral . So welcome Paul.Speaker 2:
Hi. Thanks Brianna . Thanks for having me.Speaker 1:
Let's start with ASL and spoken language, interpreting both kinds of interpreters. Do the same. That is they use language to assist parties in communication with one another. Is that where the comparison ends?Speaker 2:
I don't think that's where the comparison ends, but there certainly are a lot of differences. I think in general , uh , spoken language interpreters and sign language interpreters. We typically find ourselves or think of ourselves as complete , completely separate with no overlap at all. Um, at it's foundation, we do the same thing. Like you said, we help two people who speak different languages , uh, communicate with each other. Uh, and a lot of our ethics are the same, but I would say that with sign language, there's a deep rooted cultural aspect , um, that I think is present and spoken language, but I think is more in sign language interpreting.Speaker 1:
So tell me a little bit about the cultural aspects. Is it, for example, is it sufficient to know ASL in order to, let's say train to become an interpreter? Is there more than that?Speaker 2:
So , um, it's, it's not sufficient to just know American sign language, to be able to be an interpreter that interprets student American sign language and another language English. Um, but I would say that it's a , it's sufficient to start your training because the training is what's really important. Uh, the training on , like I said, ethics , um , but more importantly, cultural aspects , uh, maybe what's different between sign language interpreting and spoken language interpreting is that , uh, the qualification or the requirement for a person who needs an interpreter who is deaf or hard of hearing, isn't the same for someone who speaks Spanish or speaks French. You know , if someone speaks Spanish or speaks French, you get them a Spanish or French interpreter, maybe there's a dialect issue , uh , that you wanna make sure you're getting the right Spanish interpreter or the right French interpreter. But when it comes to a person who shows up to a , a doctor's appointment or shows up to court whose deaf or heart of hearing, they might not speak sign language at all, they might be deaf or heart of hearing and use cart services, which is, you know, English transcriptions, or they might use sign language, but they might use an English based sign language approach, or they may use a more structural American sign language approach. So even the variations in the languages, you might see one interpreter signing, moving their hands around, but the gram , the grammar could be different. The sign choices could be vastly different.Speaker 1:
Walk us through a little bit of , of the process of becoming a certified American sign language interpreter. And I understand that there are different categories and you , um , as opposed to spoken language interpreters, you guys have a generalist category and then you have sub-specializations how does that work?Speaker 2:
So , um, so we do start with a generalist there there's one exception, which is , is the educational certification. Uh , and there's certainly a lot of debate in the field that, that people think you should have a generalist before having any specialty, including education. Uh, but education is one specialized certificate that you can have without having a generalist, but the way it starts to for a generalist or the way it should start for most people , uh, is that you should come to some, to some form of training program with a big , a understanding of the language. If you don't have any base understanding of the language, there are college classes that you can take , uh , ASL one, you need start there , uh , ASL one, ASL, two ASL three. Hopefully you go all the way through ASL six, but hopefully you continue learning ASL your entire life. Um, but you learn , um, you know, you take deaf culture classes, you learn the language, you learn the vocabulary, but then you learn the culture. Uh, you learn the, the oppression that deaf people have suffered, you know , over the course of history. Um, you go through your classes, you take interpreter training , uh, and now the registry of interpreters for the deaf requires that you have a four year degree, doesn't have to be in sign language interpretation , uh, but they do require you have a four year degree. Then you study, you take, afor a written test and a performance test. And if you pass, you get a generalist certification. Um, and I think, and it's the same process for the specialties as well. I think one thing that people need to keep in mind is that getting certified, whether it's generalist education, even legal, that is your entry into the field and into the profession. Uh, you know, there are over 10,000 nationally certified generalists sign language interpreters. There's under 400 that have an SCL , which is the legal certification that I have. Uh , and a lot of people think that you have the legal certification, you're this legal interpreting God and it's entry level. It's just so that you're proficient it . And then you continue to train and you continue to gain experience, which makes you a better interpreterSpeaker 1:
Now, especially interpreting in court. There's lots of , um, well obviously it's a high risk scenario for defendants, but there's lots of words in the court jargon that can be difficult for an untrained interpreter. I think you and I spoke about the term , um , prison, jail lockup, and a few others that really, really , um , have to be interpreted very carefully because otherwise they create more C infusion than what they resolve.Speaker 2:
Yes, that's, that's very true. Uh, you know, one thing that's interesting, cuz you did want to talk about some of the differences. I think for the most part spoken language interpreters, when they're going to a court setting , uh, it is, it is mostly either the defendant or the plaintiff. You know, it's a , it's a party to the case that's involved , uh, sign , which interpreters have a little bit of an expansion, you know, you and I have talked about this in Georgia where sign language interpreters might be called for jury duty , uh , because exclusion of a deaf person, because they don't speak English would be a violation of the Americans with disabilities act. Um, so sign language interpreters also interpret jury duty . So yes, there's uh , a lot of people that are affected the interpreter, even a defendant who isn't the deaf person, or there's not a deaf person to the party , uh , or to the , to the case, if the deaf person's on the jury, the skill of that interpreter will affect someone who doesn't know any deaf people or has no relation to any deaf people. Um, and it is very true that those specific words , uh , I actually saw you say this, you don't this a lot in one of your other podcasts , uh , you have to know four languages to be a court interpreter. Uh, you have to know your source and target languages, but then you have to know legalese in both your source language and your target language.Speaker 1:
Excellent. So what about when you, you know, you add the situation that we're in right now, which is the COVID 19 P pandemic and you make it impossible for sign language interpreters to go to court and they have to work remotely. How does that affect the interaction between the deaf or heart of hearing , um , defendant or user of services, the communication?Speaker 2:
So I think that situation and what COVID has brought to light , um , aside from general disparities among , uh , you know, society where we have high income , low income people who don't have access to broadband high speed internet, you know, obviously those things have been brought to light by this, but it also focused is a lot on the big differences between spoken language and sign language. Um, so sign language, interpreting , um, American sign language interpreters have been using video remote interpreting in some fashion for a really long time. Uh , it's how deaf people call and order a pizza or call their doctor, make appointments, call their friends , uh, have very personal conversations where we would have them over the phone , the deaf person, or the heart of hearing person will use a video relay service and they will call an interpreter in a cubicle. Uh , and that interpreter will have a headset to call the hearing person. So deaf people have been using the service for a long time, which is one, a huge benefit. It's not a learning curve that they have to, you know, deal with. How does technology , you know, how do , how does the camera work? How do I set it up? Make sure it all works, but it also comes with a big negative because deaf people have been using this service for so long and this technology for so long in a , a much more relaxed manner. Uh, you know, I remember I , I was in the army for a while and I remember , uh , a phrase which was familiarity breeds, contempt. You know, just the , the more you are familiar with a person or the more you're familiar with something, the, the more you take it for granted, but also the more relaxed and comfortable you are with, or you use the service. So, you know, deaf people, a call and they order a pizza, they don't dress dress up in their Sunday best to call and order a pizza or call and make a doctor's appointment. You know, it's just like, I, if I'm making a phone call, I'm wearing my pajamas, nobody's looking at me. Um, you know, deaf people know the interpreter is looking, but it's a, it's, it's the culture. It's what we're grown accustomed to. That is a hard change. When now you tell a deaf person the same exact service that you've been using for so long that you are very comfortable with and that you call it's it's, you know, usually set up and either in your living room or maybe your desk, but sometimes in your bedroom with your bedroom TV , uh, you know, so you're sitting on the bed , um, you now have to do this, but this is now in court. And other , other people are also now on the video. Um, and it also creates a huge distraction because ASL is so visual when I'm standing in the courtroom and I'm standing up at the front, you know, I can see the entire courtroom. And if somebody, if , you know, if a two parties are deaf and somebody starts signing, I can see that. And I can shift my gaze when I have 12 zoom squares. Um, you know , I either see all of them at once, which means everybody's really small, or I pin one deaf person and then I don't see anybody else. And deaf people struggle with that as well, because when I'm interpreting for a hearing person, the deaf person still wants to maintain eye contact with the hearing speaker. And, and that's very difficult when they want to see me. But the hearing speaker is , uh , you know, the , the corner zoom over there and I'm down here in this corner, zoom. Uh , so it does it, it has a benefit that they've been familiar with using it, but it does create a lot more problemsSpeaker 1:
Now, ASL or American sign language and is mandated the provision of a American sign language. Interpreter is mandated by the American disabilities act , which you alluded to earlier. And the provision of a spoken language interpreter is mandated by title six civil rights act and other regulation. And although they are different in how they're executed, they take place in the similar settings. So what do you think about having both ASL and , and spoken language interpreters regulated by the same entity, at least for legal interpreting purposes?Speaker 2:
So I think that's really important. Um, and, and just a , a quick clarification, it is very complicated. Um, you know, the American with disabilities act, it requires a reasonable accommodation and that is a ongoing struggle. Um, it is, it doesn't necessarily require an interpreter. Okay . Um, which is a huge problem because obviously an interpreter is the only thing that's reasonable, but because it's not so clear, you still have people using pen and paper, you know, using pictures and trying other things. Um, so it's, it's, it's not so clear, but to the main question of regulated together , uh, that would be, I , I mean, I , I don't understand why we weren't regulated together from the beginning <laugh> um, but I think that goes back to what you and I, you know, what I just said is that for a long time spoken language interpreters and American sign language, or any sign language interpreters have viewed themselves in separate worlds in separate camps. Uh, and then just from there , uh, the division grew further apart. It's kind like if you're laying a tile floor, you're a little off right here, by the time you get to the other side of the room, you're you're way off. Um, and I think we are very far apart when we should be working together. And I think having one organization , uh, specifically if we're talking courts , uh, the administrative office of the courts regulating , uh, all court interpreters would be ideal.Speaker 1:
So Paul, we talk a lot about training of interpreters, but we don't really talk about training other people in the use of interpreters. And I wonder whether, if we did more of that, we might actually get to the point where in general it would be understood that there should be a standard, a national standard for all interpreters. What do you think?Speaker 2:
That's a really interesting point. Um, so first of all, I completely agree that we really need to train the end users and not just the people who need the interpreter, but the people who are booking the interpreter, the people who are, you know , responsible for coordinating the interpreter , um, a lot of times, and especially, you know, I'm sure you're you , this happens to you a lot. Um, you know, you get called from a court and it's like, Hey, are you available to interpret a hearing on this day, at this time? Who , who are the parties? What the , what is the hearing what's going on? How long is it gonna , you know, there's so many questions , um, you know, even, especially as an attorney, but even interpreters need to be more aware conflicts that they might have with parties. If they interpret one, you know, one part of a , of a trial or one part of an action, they might not be able to interpret subsequent parts of that action. Uh, so having the court administrators come to the interpreters prepared and armed with the information , uh , because it's not as easy as just, I asked those questions. Well, you know , who were the parties? What kind of case is it? Does is anybody represented? Because when I do, I'm, normally we met with, I don't know any of these answers. I didn't know. I had to know any of these answers. So I'll call you back , uh , in a couple days when I get all this information. Um, so I think that that would be really, really important. And then yes, I think that by doing that, by having those people armed with what they need to, to get qualified interpreters, I think we will have a better in general, a better ability to provide qualified interpreters. Because as of right now, that lack of knowledge from the people booking the interpreters, even sadly to say some agencies who are booking interpreters with that lack of knowledge, they're also just getting somebody who says, they're an interpreter, right? Somebody's just like, Hey , are you an interpreter? Yes, I am. Okay, great. Here, can you come and do this? Because they, they're not armed with what the interpreter needs to know, and they're not armed with the differences in interpreters.Speaker 1:
Now you're in a unique position because in addition to having been an American sign language interpreter for almost 15 years, you also decided to go to law school. So if I were in your situation, I think that when I start law school, I would see law school through the eyes of the interpreter, because that would've been my framework. And as I moved through law school, then perhaps my perspective changes. And as I'm focusing on the law, and now I start to see the interpreter through the eyes of a lawyer. Um , what do you think about that? It do this does, was your like that in any way of a blending of the two?Speaker 2:
I think that, I think it actually was, it , it was very much, you know, I start law school and I'm coming at it. And I think , uh , like most people who go to law school later in life and, and I went to law school, part-time , uh , part-time students, you, you come at it with , uh , a different set of experiences, a different set of life experiences that you bring to law school. Uh, and that , that shapes your view. Um, what I think is interesting as well. Yes, I started law school with a , an interpreter , um , point of view. Uh , and then that shifted to seeing the world and seeing law school through an attorney , um , point of view. They're not really that different. Um , you know, the , the jobs are very similar. I , I would say there's one drastic different , which was, I've always wanted to go to law school. It was kind of a long time coming. Uh , but the one drastic difference, which I'm sure every interpreterSpeaker 1:
Watching this , let me guess, let me guess, let me guess, go ahead , advocacy.Speaker 2:
Yeah. Yeah. The ability to actually say something , um , to have, have a point in there because sometimes, you know, we , we are responsible to interpret the message , uh, faithfully to the people rendering it. And sometimes, you know, you just sit there and we all have our own thoughts about this message that's coming across. Um, so yeah, the ability to actually advocate and to have a voice in the conversation , uh, is the huge difference. Um, but I will , I will say that the similarities are , um, are still pretty ingrained in the two jobs , um, you know, being an interpreter. Um , in fact, my, my, my firm's logo is solutions through communication because it it's all about communication, you know, winning your case for your client. Even if , you know, sometimes a settlement is the best win a settlement or winning a trial, it's all about communication and understanding how language works and how we use language is the key to both jobs,Speaker 1:
As far as , um, the knowledge that you now have as an attorney, have you, have you changed your perspective of the availability of language access services or, or do you now understand it a little differently?Speaker 2:
Um, I think, I think in being in a unique position of being specifically an American sign language interpreter for the deaf and heart of hearing, I don't think it's changed that much because I've always been very well aware , aware of the struggles , uh , that the deaf and heart of hearing culture have when it comes to language access. Um, you know, specifically, I , I think it's just in general, how we look at the world, you, and I've talked about this a lot. Uh, you know, if you're a hearing person and you ha and you have a child, who's a hearing child, that doctor will probably encourage you. Not all, but many will encourage you, or people will encourage you teacher baby sign language. They can learn to sign before they can, they can learn to talk. They can learn to move their hands before they can learn to control their vocal chords teacher , baby sign language, you know, teach them more and, and milk and cookie. And it's great. And you know, it alleviates frustration cuz that's why baby cry , cuz they want something that they can't tell you. Um, and it, it's a , it's a point and it's a true point. But if you are a deaf person and you have a deaf child, or if you're a hearing person and you have a hearing child, that advice usually isn't the same. In fact, most, most professionals then not all, but many professionals will actually say don't teach your child sign language because they feel that it will impact their ability to learn English later on , uh , which is not true. And in fact, it's the opposite because if you have a foundation in language, it's much easier to learn a second language than it is to struggle with your first language and then try and learn a second. Um , but yeah, the , the language access has been a struggle. So I don't think it's changed. I think it's just , uh , intensifiedSpeaker 1:
Now <affirmative>, I'd like your explanation as a attorney slash interpreter as to why the interpreter should not dumb down or explain things that are being said that the interpreter thinks , um, might not be understood in the way they were originally said.Speaker 2:
So that that's a really good point. That's something that I have been talking about for a very long time since I first became an interpreter. Um, I, I noticed that there were, there were different models that interpreters followed. There were some interpreters that were more faithful to the message. And that also includes the register of that message. And then there were some interpreters that were more focused on the, the standing of the message and gave no credence to the register at all. Mm um, I , I think in most things in life , uh , extremes are never, the answer has always gotta be, you know, the , the middle pendulum swing as you know, the middle is where we go. Um, I think though the problem with completely ignoring register is it actually sets both people up for failure later on. Uh, so what do I mean by that? So, you know, I'm an attorney and if I'm a bad attorney, then I'm gonna explain things to my client in a way that they can't understand. And I'm talking about people who speak the same language, right? We've all had doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, every people who explain things and they're using their everyday jargon that I'm not familiar with as, as the customer. I , I'm not familiar with these terms. I need you to explain it to me in layman's terms, right . But I can at least do that when I'm the customer and the doctor, the lawyer, the plumber explains something to me. And in terms that I don't understand, I can let them know that, which does a couple things. It lets me as the consumer advocate for myself. And it reminds that professional to use layman's terms in general with other clients, when an interpreter is in the middle and that professional is using specific technical jargon and the interpreter is the one that's changing it to layman's terms. The problems that it's causing is the , the consumer doesn't know that that's even happening. They think that this person's a great , doing a great job of explaining it. They're explaining it in layman's terms, the professional doesn't know that the consumer or other person doesn't know those specific jargon terms. So then later with another interpreter, they're still gonna continue to use those. If that new interpreter doesn't know what they mean and has to ask for explanation, the person might be like, well, I don't understand. They , they understood everything. I said, last time I'm using the same terminology. Uh, specifically when it comes to sign language, a lot of people default to English. This is a big difference between sign language and spoken language, right? If you have a , a spoken language interpreter from English professional to Spanish consumer, and then the next meeting, you don't have that Spanish language interpreter there, the spoken language professional, doesn't give writing English words down a try, right? They're not like, oh, I don't have an interpreter. Let's just try writing in English. That, that doesn't work that way. That is a phenomenon that happens a lot with sign language interpreters. We have an interpreter, the first meeting. And then for whatever reason, you know, maybe a consumer just shows up or maybe , uh , the interpreter gets sick or they forget to book somebody instead of rescheduling. They're like, Hey, you know what I mean? It's your deaf, it's not a different language. Let's just write English cuz they don't understand hands a different language. So they start writing English words down and they're using those big terms that they use the first time because the interpreter did not transmit those words at the proper register and give the parties an opportunity to work that stuff out.Speaker 1:
So it seems to me like that interferes with the communicative autonomy that the um, person we saving the services has.Speaker 2:
Yeah, absolutely. It's it's and it , it creates , uh , a learned helplessness. Um, they don't even, you know, the , the consumer or the person on the other end doesn't know that that's happening. And then that, that creates a dependency on the interpreter, which obviously dependency doesn't go really well with autonomy.Speaker 1:
<laugh> absolutely. Now you and I , um , have been involved recently in a very interesting project , um, that was helping to expand the options for court reopening here in the state of Georgia. And um, we managed to get at the interpreter interpreting related issues included in that task force . Why did you agree to participate ,Speaker 2:
Uh , aside from you? Um, I mean, so I mean, you , you obviously know this story is that, and , and it's a struggle that we have that we're setting up this task force , doing all these things in order to, you know, make sure that the courts could, could handle business during the closures , uh , that they could reopen safely. Um , and obviously when you are going to interact with the court, when you're gonna have access to justice, communication is the most important part of that. Um , most people speaking the same language because they speak the same language , the concept that communication is vital to interacting with the court doesn't come up. So a lot of people it's just not on their radar and it just gets overlooked. Uh, you know, so when we started working together to write a letter , um, to the task force , to have interpreters , um , included , uh, that kind of snowballed into being involved and, and making sure that all of the aspects that the COVID task force looked at, took communication and language access into consideration. Um , you know, you have to have different safety guidelines when it comes to communication. You can't just say, okay, everybody wear a mask , um , because that's gonna interfere with people being able to understand each other. And it's interesting because most of the task force knew that when it came to language, just in general, you have something covering your mouth. Your voice is a little bit more muffled. It's harder to understand. Add now to that. Uh , two people involved in the process muffled and a transition from one language to another. Um, you know, we explor different options, face masks versus face shields, especially when it comes to sign language, interpreter where a lot of grammar is on your face. So if you're a sign language interpreter, or if you're deaf or hard of hearing and you sign language to communicate, you're not really worried about the mask muffling sound, but a mask does block the grammatical facial expressions that occur.Speaker 1:
So as far as , um, the results of that , um, that task force , I, I , I recall that one of the main focus Vokey <laugh> one of the men , one of the , the main ideas was to provide guidelines for in-person interpreting remote interpreting and also hybrid.Speaker 2:
Yeah, I think the hybrid was the most difficult. Um , I think it's really easy, you know, when we were coming up with guidelines for in person , um , obviously, you know, we both, and , and something I thought that was really good, that we did was that we went out and we also had , uh, you know, small town halls with people , um, you know, the end users to see what things they thought of that would help them, you know, interact with the justice system. Um, you know, but I think it was pretty, pretty straightforward to, you know, use a face shield so that you can see , uh , facial expressions better , um, you know, face masks in these situations , uh, you know, for spoken language interpreter, using technology, you know, having the interpreter be able to sit at a different table and use headsets and earpieces so that there's, you know, social distancing or physical distancing, you know, I think those were pretty straightforward when it came to the remote interpreting again, pretty straightforward. Doesn't straightforward doesn't mean the , that was easy and we should do it, but, you know, straightforward as in what the problems are, something I alluded to earlier, you know, you're talking to one person, the deaf person is watching one hearing person that hearing person's in one small corner, but the interpreter's in a different corner or the interpreter having to figure out which person is talking , uh , in sign language is very interesting if I'm in a courtroom and or if I'm in anywhere room in a business meeting and there's a round table and I'm interpreting for all of the hearing people speaking when a hearing person starts speaking, I'll typically, you know , uh , make eye contact, gesture point at that person so that the deaf person knows who's speaking at the time. That's really difficult because the 12 squares on my screen, aren't the same order as the 12 squares on the death person screen. So I can't say , uh , that square. I mean, first of all, I don't even know where that Square's pointing to you, that you're looking at right now. <laugh> um, so that, that that's very difficult, but when it came to the hybrid approach that created a lot more problems because, you know, you have situations where, which people are going to be in person and , and which people are gonna be remote. Um, having the interpreter , uh , and the non-English speaking person , uh, not in the same situation, not in the same physical location would be fine. And , uh , assuming all of those other issues that with remote interpreting, but would be okay. As long as the non-English speaking person, wasn't actually in a location with hearing English, speaking people, because just in general, I mean, we see this when we're live in person , um, especially with deaf people, the eye contact issue, right? So deaf people looking at the interpreter, I've actually seen people, Hey, look , look at me. I'm I'm you have to look at me when I'm talking to you that doesn't work out too well, cuz they have to look at the interpreter. And normally we try to position ourselves so that they can look , you know, the consumer can look at the hearing person who's speaking while we're interpreting that's not gonna happen very well. If the deaf person is in the room with the hearing people and just the interpreters on the TV. Um, and that is something that deaf people struggle with even, you know, well, before COVID , you know , doctors try to do that medical facilities do that. They bring in a TV on a wheely cart. Remember when we were in school, that was like the best thing when the teacher wheeled in the TV on the wheely cart and you're like, oh , this is a great day. We to watch a movie , um , deaf people don't have that same feeling when they're in an emergency room and the wheely car comes in and now you have this interpreter stuck on this TV and all these hearing people blocking the TV, walking in front of it, can't, you know, make good visual connection with the TV and the person.Speaker 1:
This brings us full circle to the idea of having to make sure that those who use and book and provide interpreting services are trained as to the different needs for each situation. It's not that simple, is it?Speaker 2:
No, it's not. And actually that's a great point. Uh, there's a case out of the 11th circuit , um, which really addresses this issue. It was a, it was deaf people who had a complaint against the , uh , medical , um , facility that was using video, remote interpreting services. They were bringing in interpreters on carts, on TV screens and you know, technology isn't perfect. Uh, the interpreter would freeze the, the video, you know, if the , the connection isn't strong enough, you'd have, we've all seen this, right? We've all been on zoom for a year now. Um, you know, you have a person freezing glitching, breaking, you know, their, their communication stops and then pauses and then starts again. Um, a few of the things that the court mentioned when they were ruling on this case were that they directly went to the medical facilities policy and that there was little guy guidance for the nurses to determine when using these remote , um, interpreting services was appropriate, right. It's not always appropriate. Um, you know, we can just imagine in an emergency setting , uh, you know, you have people rushing down, it's an emergency. People are moving around very quickly. Somebody's blocking the TV, but asking a question, there's not a lot of time for the interpreter to be like, you're , you know, could you move out of the way you're actually blocking the TV? I can't see what's going on. Uh, you know, as having interpreted emergency situations, you know, the interpreter's jumping around too, especially for a visual language, you know, climbing up on things that you could see, the person you can't do that when you're on a TV in a little box. Uh , and one of the biggest things the court said was that this policy was just barren . It had no indication for the staff to know when video remote interpreting was okay , uh, to , to make decisions. I mean, you had the deaf person complaining that the services were not adequate. Uh, they weren't a reasonable accommodation, but the nurses didn't, some of them , I think probably just didn't care, but you know, some of 'em cuz it just seemed from the, from the information in the case that they just ignored it. But I think a lot of times they just didn't know what else to do. There wasn't any training. They had no guidance.Speaker 1:
Well, Paul, it's been really great talking to you. Thank you so much. I love the fact that not only are you an interpreter, but at you're an attorney and you still haven't moved away from your roots and we hope to be, you know, I hope to collaborate with you further on more advocacy work. Thank you very much for being here with us.Speaker 2:
Well, thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun. Thanks.Speaker 1:
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