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5 Must Have Apps for Sign Language Interpreters

Happy Sign Language Interpreter Using Apps To Enhance Her Productivity

Harnessing technology to save time, energy, and effort can support sign language interpreters increase productivity and accuracy. Join Brandon Arthur in his exploration of five must-have apps for every sign language interpreter.

Few sign language interpreters live without a smartphone or tablet. It’s probably hard for most of us to remember what life was like before we had the ability to manage the intersection of our work and personal lives with the swipe of a finger.

With the bazillions of apps out there, which ones are particularly useful for sign language interpreters? Below are 5 apps that may help you reclaim some of your sanity and be more productive in the process.

1. Leave Now

Tired of being “that interpreter?” Wish you knew exactly when to leave in order change your tardy ways? Wish no more. Leave Now will send an alert, which calculates for traffic delays, to your iOS device telling you exactly when to leave to be on time.

In the event you are going to be late, a single tap will send messages alerting people and giving them an ETA.

Cost: Free
Available for: iOS
Info: http://leavenowapp.com

2. Google Maps

Find yourself regularly doing the repeat 20mph drive-by only to discover you are on wrong Washington St? Well, no more drives of shame for you. Google Maps gives you the classic transit directions, Street View, and most impressively voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation.

Google Maps will also give you nearby places to grab a bite.

Cost: Free
Available for: iOS and Android
Info: http://www.google.com/mobile/iphone/ 

3.  Evernote

Sheepish about busting out that spiral notebook crammed with old agendas, receipts and coupons in order to capture job details or dialogue with a team interpreter? You know who you are! Evernote allows you to easily capture everything from personal musings to critical billing information.

You can quickly browse, edit and search on the information captured and it conveniently syncs across all of your iOs devices.

Cost: Free
Available for: iOs and Android (and more)
Info: http://evernote.com/evernote/ 
 

 4.  Expensify

Every superhero has their kryptonite. Do your powers of analyzing form, meaning and context go weak with the very thought of organizing and tracking expenses? Have no fear. Expensify makes it easy to record expenses and mileage as they occur, upload receipts by snapping a quick picture of them, and even track travel time. 

Expensify generates reports with the tap of your finger and integrates with QuickBooks to make invoicing a breeze.

Cost: Free (basic version)
Available for: iOS and Android (and more)
Info: http://help.expensify.com/mobile

5. Bump

An oldie, but a goodie! Go ahead and get your virtual man hug on by exchanging information with a colleague by “bumping” your phone with theirs. Bump allows you to exchange your contact info, calendar events, social media profiles and more simply and easily.

This will save you time and the additional bloat of your spiral notebook.

Cost: Free
Available for: iOS and Android
Info: http://bu.mp/company/ 

Productivity is Key

As sign language interpreters, we have a keen sense that time is our most valuable asset. I am hopeful that you will find these apps helpful in adding time back to your life.

After all, in a world that is increasingly busy, anything that takes our mind off of the logistics of the job and helps us focus on the work at hand is a good thing, no?

What apps have made a difference managing your work?

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Do Sign Language Interpreters Ever Have “Clients?”

Sign Language Interpreter Worried About Using the Term Client

Instead of subscribing to assumptions, how can we engage authentically with – and empower – consumers of sign language interpreting services? Xenia Woods unpacks the oppression and power imbalance inherent in the term client.

As a sign language interpreting student about eighteen years ago, I was told that the term client was falling out of use in our profession. If only that dream had come true by now. Sadly, the word is still far too commonly used.

Recently, I was a user of interpreting services, and I heard one of the interpreters talking with her intern during a break. She referred to us as her clients. I was so disturbed by this that I sat up and took notice. Excuse me? I thought. I am not your client!

How is it that interpreters have used this term for so long and not been taken to task? I believe the answer is that consumers of interpreting services rarely, if ever, hear them using it.

 What’s the Big Deal?

If you use this term, you may wonder, “what’s the big deal? I’ve seen it in textbooks!” The fact is: it contributes to oppression in a not-so-subtle way.

Think about the people who use this term. Mostly they are attorneys, counselors, consultants, and the like. They are people who give advice. They are people whose opinions are sought after at work. A simple search of the words “my client” turns up these types of professions: realtor, therapist, executive coach, attorney, editor, broker. And it usually implies that the client is the one who pays for the service. Clearly, this does not describe our work.

The Danger of Presumption

For us to use this term when describing our consumers is presumptuous, for two major reasons:

1.     We use it disproportionately to refer to deaf consumers. This reinforces the notion that many hearing people subscribe to: only deaf people need interpreters. But, as I am so fond of saying to hearing consumers, I don’t just interpret for (as you call them) the “hearing impaired,” but also for you, the signing impaired.

 2.     It suggests a measure of authority we cannot claim. While in some cases we do dispense advice – on matters of interpreting – it is inappropriate to put ourselves in a place of authority. As suggested by Trudy Suggs in her article, A Deaf Perspective: Cultural Respect in Sign Language Interpreting, we must bring deference to every situation we encounter, or risk upsetting the delicate balance of power that the interlocutors work so hard to achieve.

If we ever hope to foster the “full interaction and independence of consumers” (from the Code of Professional Conduct) we must abdicate, as much as possible, the role of arbiter of discourse. We must continue to seek ways to effectively walk the tightrope between managing turn-taking and letting the interactive chips fall where they may. Finding the balance requires a great deal of respect for both deaf and hearing parties, a healthy dose of humility and grace on the part of the sign language interpreter, and an understanding of one’s power and privilege as suggested by Aaron Brace in his article, The Duality of the Sign Language Interpreter.

Maintaining Balance

Part of that careful balance – being humble and walking the fine line that allows us to leave as many decisions as possible to the consumers of our service – requires us to find every opportunity to step back into the wings, and leave the players to be fully on the stage.

In my experience, the following three maxims allow sign language interpreters to engage with people authentically, and avoid the self-assured distance that some interpreters create as a result of having felt powerless in the past.

1.     Be willing to be a little uncomfortable. If you’re always at ease, you’re making too many assumptions. While interpreters can offer suggestions on how to do things (such as placement, procedures, and the like), participants are much better able to bring their ideas to the table when they are actively involved in negotiating communication. This can sometimes be awkward at first, especially when the cultural gap is a large one.

2.     Ask questions. Another way to prevent the problems that arise as a result of faulty assumptions, questions allow us to check in regularly and revisit our standard approaches. Asking a hearing person about their experiences with interpreters, or asking a deaf person for ideas on how to approach a problem, we can engender trust and demonstrate that we truly respect consumers’ experience and knowledge.

3.     Use your powers of observation. Brandon Arthur suggested, in his article, The Goo at the Center of a Sign Language Interpreter, “As artists with a keen sense of observation, sign language interpreters become expert at investing in people. They quickly and efficiently invest small increments of emotional labor (personal, professional, linguistic, and cultural mediating micro-decisions) with those they come in contact with. By doing this, they earn the social currency needed to make adjustments in the work environments, achieve consensus among meeting participants, and to deliver experiences that are truly remarkable.”

In the end, no one is ever our consumer. They are, whether deaf, hearing, or hard of hearing, simply people. Let us never forget it.

I would love to hear how you maintain the careful balance in your work. Care to share?