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10 Lessons From my First Year as a Freelance Sign Language Interpreter

10 Lessons From My First Year as a Freelance Sign Language Interpreter

As a recent ITP graduate, Brittany Quickel shares encouraging advice to peers who are entering the world of freelance sign language interpreting.

When I graduated from NTID two years ago, I drove away from the RIT campus for the last time wearing my cap and gown, car windows down, and singing and signing along to Taylor Swift’s song “Twenty-Two”. I felt a huge range of emotions: pride, happiness, relief, fear, uncertainty, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I had been preparing for this moment for my entire high school and college career and now here I was: A graduate, diploma in hand, and one of the newest practitioners to enter the field of sign language interpreting.

[Click to view post in ASL]

I felt ready.

One year later, I realized that in that moment of time, I was as ready as I could have ever been. I was very fortunate to have had many teachers, mentors, and colleagues who shared their words of wisdom with me before I graduated. Their advice still guides me today, and I continue to ask colleagues what they wish they knew when they started their careers as sign language interpreters.

Most recently, I have been surprised to have interpreting students and recent graduates seeking my advice and perspective as a new practitioner! Just as those who came before me shared their advice with me, I hope to repay their generosity by passing along some lessons that I have learned while navigating my first year as a freelance sign language interpreter.

1. Expect the Unexpected

So you expected to be walking into “This, This, and This”, but what you really discovered was “This, That, and What The-” Oh yes, this is an inevitable reality that pops up many times along the course of a sign language interpreter’s career. While it is crucial to try to obtain all pertinent details before every assignment, sometimes this does not always happen. Sometimes, you receive misinformation which causes you to walk into a situation completely unprepared. However, an integral part of freelancing is the ability to be flexible in any given situation, on any given day (and yes, even on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days). Suppose you are expecting to interpret a training seminar about a topic that you are knowledgeable about, only to walk into the same assignment and realize that the topic is actually completely different than what you had been told. If it is a topic that I didn’t expect but am still able to interpret, then it is business as usual. If I happen to be unqualified for the assignment, then it is also my responsibility to remove myself and inform the hiring entity of the error. While it may be nerve-wracking at times, the ability to remain flexible and calm amidst the chaos of uncertainty will take you very far!

2. Invest in Lifelong Learning

One of the first things I learned when I graduated from my Interpreter Training Program was that I was definitely not done learning, despite being finally finished with school. Completing formal education is only the beginning of a career of lifelong learning and development. This is true for any profession, however as linguistic and cultural mediators, language learning and development will require a continuous effort in every language that we work with: ASL, English, and/or Spanish. There is a limit to how much language learning can be acquired in a classroom, which is why socializing with native speakers of the language is a requirement to develop fluency.

Professional development in our rapidly evolving field of interpreting is also an ongoing endeavor. Staying on top of current trends and best practices is an absolute must for all practitioners. You can do this in a myriad of ways by taking advantage of local workshops in your area and the numerous online resources available to us through the National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC), the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, as well as online discussion groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Also, think about those hypothetical “what if?” dilemmas (á la “Encounters with Reality: 1,001 Interpreter Scenarios” by Brenda Cartwright or any scenarios from your thought-provoking ITP discussions) and engage in Reflective Practice from the very beginning. For a more detailed explanation of Reflective Practice, read Sign Language Interpreters: Breaking Down Silos Through Reflective Practice.

3.  Overcome your Self-Doubt

Thoughts like these may plague your psyche on a daily basis: “Why am I doing this?! This is so hard! I can’t do this! AGH!” It is imperative that you ignore them. Now let me make a clear distinction: self-doubts are very different from self-awareness. Being aware of my tendency to fingerspell a very long word all the way out into no man’s land (an area of skill needing improvement) is very different from beating myself up over that fact and calling myself “the worst interpreter ever” (negative self-talk). We all have our strengths and weaknesses. We can all learn new things and continue to strive to be better than we were yesterday. However, we cannot let our self-doubt hold us back from becoming the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be.

4. Listen to that Inner Voice that says “You Can Do It!”

You know that random guy in every Adam Sandler movie from the 90’s who swoops in during a desperate time of need and exclaims: “YOU CAN DO IT!” Yeah, listen to that guy, because he is right. You will surprise yourself this year. You will do things that you never thought you were capable of. You will learn, grow, and enjoy many PAHs! In the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

5. Take All Advice with a Grain of Salt.

Lots of people are going to try to give you advice when you are a new sign language interpreter: good, bad, and ugly advice. Sometimes you’ll be able to distinguish between the three, however, take everything that everyone tells you with a grain of salt. Remember that everyone has had their own individual experiences and shares their own unique perspectives on the world that may differ from your own. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what you want to do and who you want to be. Remember: You are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul!

6. Surround Yourself with People Who Want You to Succeed.

This is crucial. The first year working as a freelance sign language interpreter can be a little isolating for some people, depending upon the nature of your work. Make sure you build your support system comprised of people you trust, who believe in you, and who want you to succeed! These people will help you out when you need it most or when you least expect it! Jean Miller shares some great ideas about how to create your own local support network in her article, #Doable: Creating Safe Spaces for Sign Language Interpreters.

7. Take Good Care of Yourself

I cannot emphasize this enough! Take good care of yourself! Eat food, get enough sleep, drink enough water, find your own ways to relax and de-stress regularly. Freelancing can be a 24/7/365 gig, which is why self-care is of the utmost importance. And don’t be afraid to indulge every once in a while, you deserve it!

Pro Tip: Make yourself a little freelance interpreter survival kit for your car or bag. Janice H. Humphrey includes a great list of essentials in the freelance interpreter bible, “So You Want to be an Interpreter?” Plus, you never know when you or someone you know may be in desperate need of a band aid, tampon, or two Advil.

8. Be Open to Self-Discovery

We are so fortunate and blessed to have chosen a career that teaches us countless lessons not only about the world and its beautiful people, but also teaches us so much about ourselves. As a freelance sign language interpreter, you will learn things you never realized about yourself, and gain a better understanding of what really makes you tick: situations you like/don’t like, love, and maybe even hate. You will learn something about what scares you, befuddles you, and may even find your true passions. As Kahlil Gibran said, you will find that in this year and the many years to come that “the soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.”1 And this kind of self-awareness is a very good thing, my friends.

9. Always Remember Why You Became a Sign Language Interpreter.

I will tell you something that you may already know: This profession is extremely challenging-emotionally, physically, mentally, existentially, and wholeheartedly. You will question your skills, abilities, and you will wonder why on earth you decided to get yourself into this field in the first place. In those moments, remember why you started interpreting. Remember that feeling that burned within your soul that made you say: Whoa. This is it. This is what I want to do with my one precious life.

10. Embrace the Journey

Life is all about the journey. Sometimes, a person’s first year as a freelance sign language interpreter may seem like a never-ending emotional roller coaster, but remember that it is all about the journey, not the destination. Always give thanks to those who have helped you and who continue to guide you along on this path. Never forget who inspired you and who led you to be where you are now: your Deaf/HOH friends and/or family, the Deaf community at large, your teachers, mentors, and fellow peers. Always remember to give back and to pay it forward. Share some insight and encouragement with excited ASL students, volunteer with your local NAD and RID chapters, share resources with your fellow colleagues, and follow up with your teachers and mentors to let them know how you are doing. Embrace the craziness of your first year as a freelance sign language interpreter and have fun!

Questions to Consider:

1. What is the most important lesson that you learned in your first year of freelance interpreting?

2. What is the best advice you would share with an interpreter entering the first year of their freelance career?

3. Did any of the lessons above resonate with you? If so, why?

 

Related Posts

The Value of Networking for the Developing Sign Language Interpreter by Stacey Webb

Sign Language Interpreters: How to Avoid Being Abandoned at the Microphone by Tiffany Hill

It Takes a Village to Raise a Sign Language Interpreter by Brian Morrison

References

1 Gibran, Kahlil. The Prophet. New York: Knopf, 1952.

 

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5 Surefire Steps to Overcoming Skill Plateau For Sign Language Interpreters

5 Surefire ways to help sign language interpreters

Experienced interpreters may often find themselves struggling for continuous improvement in their product. Diane Lynch references strategies and tools to help long-standing professionals break out of business as usual to take sure steps to improved practice.

Perhaps you have decades of sign language interpreting experience, have been to countless workshops and trainings on skill development, yet feel that you have hit a plateau in your skills. You may notice obvious erroneous patterns in your work. For example, your fingerspelling reception needs improving, or you sometimes produce miscues.

I was there until a few days ago.

I had the great honor and privilege to attend a three-day training opportunity with Dr. Carol Patrie and Sharon Neumann Solow, who in my opinion are consummate beacons of enlightenment to members of the ASL/English interpreting profession.

My Journey

The pair presented milieu evidence-based data to a group of highly motivated professional sign language interpreters. Carol and Sharon insisted throughout the training period that the group was already advanced…I, on the other hand, held some skepticism and thought to myself, “Why do I hold this skepticism? And, if this is so, then why am I here? My journey had begun.

Patrie and Solow assigned pre-reading material- Daniel Gile’s Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training. Revised edition. The text is written in an idiomatic style that was easy for me to digest. As I was wading and navigating through the printed description of the interpreting process, reality hit me like a lightening bolt, and I came to and even greater understanding of the incredible complexity of the work that I do on a daily basis.

After digesting this resource, it felt to me, like I just completed an ITP. During the training, I learned to use this shared language and terminology that are both transparent and current to accurately describe and dialogue about the work that we do.

Identifying Patterns

Experts in every professional field were not simply born as experts. The difference between a practitioner that is an expert and one who is not is “pattern recognition” (Kaufman- Ungifted; Intelligence Redefined) Professionals which learned through procedural process (music, swimming, long-distance running, tennis, math, chess) spend many hours every day perfecting their craft. They develop neural pathways that allow a person to unlearn bad habits and to develop fine-tuned complex tasks. Brain plasticity remains present throughout a person’s life. The old phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” is simply erroneous. Deliberate practice is how the expert’s greatness is achieved.

Deliberate Practice

Interpreting is not an automatic task. It takes effort! Practicing our craft while we work is just not possible. Working and practicing have a different focus altogether. So, let’s be honest with ourselves-we need to embrace the idea that practice requires grit. It requires a professional to put forth a sustained intense effort and concentration for incremental periods focusing on one specific task. Kaufman cites a ten-year rule for propelling one’s self from mastery to eminence.

Gile’s “Effort Model” contains a “Tightrope Hypothesis” which describes in detail the complexity of the interpreting work in terms of a person’s capacity for success given the demands of the work and maximizing the tools which are possessed to perform the task. Avoiding failure, the breakdown of the interpreting process, is our most important duty.

Once we attain those required skill subsets necessary to interpret through routinization, the effort needed to recognize and encode the learned patterns are less rigorous. The more skills that are available in our tool box (supply), the more likely we are able to avoid saturation through allocation of our resources to meet the demands using a reduced amount of effort. It’s the skillful coordination effort which allows us to perform this delicate balancing act. Cognitive stress…who needs it?

Advanced interpreters are motivated to propel their skills to the next level. How does one refine one’s thinking in order to reduce information lost in translation? Patrie and Solow recommend a five-step systematic approach to self-analysis for improved performance.

5 Steps To Improved Performance

  1. Render a 3 minute sample of your work to analyze. Find your errors and correct your interpretation. (write them down)
  2. Find the level at which your interpretation broke-down. Was it on the comprehension level? The transfer level (from one language to the other), or the reformulation level?
  3. Think about the impact that the miscue had on communication. How severe was the consequence?
  4. Revise the interpretation and render again.
  5. What actions will you take to focus on improvement?

The best interpreters push their skill sets to work towards becoming an expertise. How will you fill your tool box to coordinate your effort?

Change The Way You Finish 

The Chaos Theory tells us that if you change the way you start, you’re going to drastically change the way you finish. The best way to begin is to practice often with materials that are directly related to the tasks. Recommended resources include:

  1. Carol Patrie’s “The Effective Interpreting Series” and “Rapid Sequential Visual Processing (RSVP)”- both evidence-based resources that are available through Dawn Sign Press.
  2. National Clearinghouse on Rehabilitation and Training Materials (NCRTM)

Paradigm Shift 

I am grateful that I am consciously aware of my skill development requirements and relieved that I still have plenty of time left in my career to begin serious remediation. And to my colleagues- morally and ethically speaking, the Deaf community, our fellow colleagues and society at large deserve no less than our very best work. The fact of the matter is, the consequences of our lack of action could potentially be severe.

I would like to thank Dr. Carol Patrie- the kindest and most prolific writer and academician in our field, and Sharon Neumann Solow- the most patient and shiniest professional that I know. You both have caused a paradigm shift within me. And, many thanks to Sorenson Communications for providing this stellar training.

My journey begins and continues with deliberate practice today, and I invite you join me.

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The Five Step Path to Resiliency for Sign Language Interpreters

Resiliency Among Sign Language Interpreters

How can sign language interpreters recognize our differences yet move toward positive change in our field? Stephanie Criner highlights the importance of mindfulness in listening to spur connection and engagement for change.

One of the strengths of our community of practice is our diversity of thought, background, and belief systems – it is also is what poses the greatest challenge when we come together to create positive change. The potential outcome in deepening our abilities and our commitment to dialogue is that while alone we don’t have the ‘answers’, together we can create them. I believe we’ve taken some first steps toward a true dialogic exchange, and we still have some challenges to overcome in understanding what dialogue is, how we must create the space to really have honest exchanges of perspectives, and talk to each other instead of talking past each other.

The Goal of Understanding

Dialogue is both the act of expressing ones thoughts and, equally importantly, the act of listening with the goal of understanding what’s at the heart of the discussion. The hazard of not placing an emphasis on understanding is that we get closer to debate than dialogue. Debate is zero sum—one right answer/one winner, either/or, pro/con—this isn’t to say there isn’t a place for debate but is it our ‘default’? If the goal is to transcend diverse perspectives and include a myriad of ‘voices’, we need a way to expand our conversations not to restrict them.

Creating ‘Other’

What can complicate our ability to understand is the creation of the ‘other.’ It prevents us from suspending judgment and ‘hearing’ perspectives or values that we perceive as negative. It is easy to fall into creating ‘stories’ that allow us to alienate and separate – they are certified/they aren’t certified; they have a degree/they don’t have a degree; they have deaf parents/they don’t have deaf parents—the ‘vilified other’ makes it easier to marginalize and discount those views that clash with our own. Perhaps we’ve had a bad experience with a member of ‘the other’, how is it we can stop reacting to our ‘ghosts’ and spring back as individuals and as a community of practice and move upstream?

People Not Villains

In the weeks after 9/11, I was involved in a series of resiliency dialogues to bring together members of our very diverse community in a safe space to share feelings, values, and perspectives. In a time of national pain and violence, I was struck by the power of listening to, what was at that time, ‘the other’. During one of these dialogues, several Muslim women shared their experiences–their dread in hearing that Muslims were involved, their experience of being verbally insulted, and their fear for their personal safety, because they wore a ḥijāb. Those exchanges didn’t erase the differences between us–it did, however, serve as a powerful antidote to the ‘poison’ of the time—a reminder that there were people behind those differences, not villains.

5 Steps to Beyond Otherness

One: Ask Real Questions

How do we get past this ‘otherness’? One of the most powerful tools in dialogue are questions–real, curious, inquiring questions—the kind that lead to deeper understanding of the ‘heart’ of an issue, why it is important to that person, and gets to the values underpinning their dialogue. Questions that come from a place of curiosity and discovery allow for movement in what might have been considered an irreconcilable difference. What do they believe to be true to have that view of the issue? Being curious also frees us from our debate ‘default’ where we have the tendency to listen for points of disagreement, where the person’s logic is faulty, or have an ad hominem type of thinking where we disagree with ‘who’ the person is and then are unable to process what they are saying. The result is we end up talking past each other and not to each other.

Two: Re-make the Map

Kuhn in this book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, suggested that ‘revolutions’ and leaps forward in progress are created when new questions are asked of previously-held beliefs and the result is a totally different ‘map’ for future directions—a true paradigm shift (he actually coined the phrase). The potential for ‘remapping’ exists for our professional organization in the motion that was recently passed to establish an ad hoc committee to ‘review the RID philosophy, Mission, Goals, Diversity Statement, and Strategic Priorities.’ This group will make recommendations to the membership and Board. How can we ensure that we engage the largest number stakeholders in these reviews and recommendations? How can we create an organizational culture of dialogue around this effort? The larger the number of voices that contribute to re-making the map, the more powerful the buy-in, and the more indelible the progress.

Three: Contribute More Than Criticize

The challenge then becomes how to include large numbers of individuals in the dialogue and how do we create a space that is engaging and safe for this multitude of ‘voices’? While most of us would agree that it is an RID members’ personal responsibility to be engaged, there is also the reality that without a safe space within which to offer those views, it won’t happen.

Volunteering your opinion is an act of courageous engagement.

Brené Brown who presented a Ted talk on vulnerability and listening to shame said this, ‘I don’t think engagement can happen without vulnerability, and I definitely don’t think it can happen in the midst of shame.’ How is it that we, as a collective,’ can take responsibility for the creation of safe dialogue spaces?’ Brené may also have the answer when she said her goal, ‘at the end of every day, and at the end of every week, and at the end of my life, I want to be able to say I contributed more than I criticized.’

Four: Allow for Difference

As Laura Wickless mentioned in her article, Vulnerability: A Collaboration Killer, ‘so many of us fear being mocked, criticized, and torn to shreds by fellow practitioners that we avoid taking worthwhile risks.’ If we want positive change and to make engagement less risky, we must find ways to value experience and personal narrative and the expression of those experiences in ways that are not critical or attacking. It will be a space that allows for difference and actively seeks perspectives from those that may feel disenfranchised—interpreters with deaf parents, faith-based interpreters, interpreters of color, educational interpreters, and others.

Five: Create a Space

It will be important that the space that’s created, whether virtual or physical, be one that can absorb multiple views and ways of engagement. Not all of us are comfortable with external processing and formulating thoughts ‘on the fly’. There are personality types who process internally and need a moment before they are ready to share their views. Can we purposefully create some silence in our dialogue space that allows for everyone to feel confident in participating? Not all of us feel confident in our public speaking or writing abilities, which may chill our level of participation. Can we create spaces that are inviting and patient that allow for everyone regardless of linguistic aptitude to share their ideas?

Mini-Mindfulness

Ultimately, we can each make small, every day contributions to larger, system-wide transformations. The nuggets that I receive from colleagues and friends—some from an in-person conversation, some through an IM, or a Facebook post—all create bits of mini-mindfulness that ultimately help make me resilient, open to dialogue with others, and growth. True, often we work in physical isolation, how is it we can ask new questions of old paradigms and overcome that isolation? Many of us work in settings where there are numerous colleagues; do we make the most of those interactions or miss opportunities to participate in dialogue that can move us all forward?

Revolutions of Thought and Practice

It is safe to say that most of us have no desire, either individually or as a professional organization, to mirror the current political environment of debate and polarization. It is destructive, the opposite of engaging, and disheartening. Dialogue that creates conversations that respect and appreciate a multitude of contributions, that are inquisitive and curious, and that allow for revolutions of thought and practice is the path forward.

Perhaps we can’t change the world, but we can certainly change our footprint.

 

References

Kuhn, Thomas S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Asking new questions of old data on pages 139, 159. Moving beyond “puzzle-solving” on pages 37, 144. Change in rule sets on pages 40, 41, 52, 175. Change in the direction or “map” of research on pages 109, 111.

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5 Easy Career Enhancers for Sign Language Interpreters

Sign Language Interpreter Having Enhanced Their Career

What makes up a successful career as a sign language Interpreter? Brandon Arthur offers 5 simple steps that will add an important level of polish to your career.

What makes up a successful career as a sign language interpreter? Logically, it depends on who is asked. Regardless of what are ultimately determined to be the magic ingredients, those interpreters who are the most successful and satisfied in their work are those who consistently seek out opportunities to grow as a professional.

While this growth may seem like it is only possible over time, and time being an important part, I believe there are steps one can take to establish a foundation for success.

Below you will find 5 simple steps that will add an important level of polish to your career.

 1.  A Pro bono Injection.

Commit to accepting pro bono assignments. Notice I didn’t say volunteer? This commitment consciously moves us past the concerns for payment and terms and reconnects us with the fundamental reason we signed up to do this work—supporting people.

There is a tremendous satisfaction in knowing your work as a sign language interpreter has made a difference. Pro bono work will rewarm the goo inside, which will do wonders for your perspective on the work and your role in it.

Pro bono grants perspective.

2.  Forgo the CEUs.

Identify a couple of learning opportunities annually that you believe will genuinely enhance your daily work, sign up, and actively attend. At the conclusion of the learning, forgo the CEUs for the activity. Consciously decide that the learning was for the enhancement of your work as a sign language interpreter and ultimately the experience of those consuming that work.

There is a confidence that comes to the interpreter who hones their craft in the interest of those who use their service.

The right type of confidence is rewarded with abundant opportunity.

3.  Volunteer Your Time.

Take an opportunity to volunteer at least once per year at a community- or industry-related event. It is no secret that local, regional, and national organizations working in the interests of the Deaf community and sign language interpreters are under-resourced and depend on the generous acts of volunteers to support their work.

Become the change you want to see by lending a hand.  The connections made during these opportunities will serve you both short- and long-term.

 4.  Celebrate Your Colleagues.

For one week, commit to sending a handwritten note of appreciation to each of the sign language interpreters you encounter on the job. Specifically compliment them on what you appreciated about their work and what you enjoyed most about working with them.

Celebrating your colleagues in this way requires that you are conscious of the work done while together and that you recognize the talents your fellow interpreters bring to the field.

The karma of these acts of appreciation will come back to you tenfold.

5.  Set One Goal.

Take an opportunity to set one goal, big or small.  Set out and do that thing that you have wanted to do but haven’t made time for. When done, set another. The act of setting the goal and accomplishing it is very empowering. This empowerment will extend to your work and introduce you to new opportunities to challenge yourself, all of which will make you a more versatile sign language interpreter.

So, take that photography class. You might just be the next Jo Hilton!

In Short

The easiest approach to career enhancement for a sign language interpreter is through acts of conscious generosity. Through a willingness to give of your time, talents, and resources you will discover an abundance of opportunity to create a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve. It is in these opportunities that true career enhancement is possible.

What suggestions do you have on how to enhance the career of a sign language interpreter?

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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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Sign Language Interpreters: 5 Helpful Tips in Selecting an Attorney

When a sign language interpreter needs an attorney, do we know what to look for? Carla Mathers highlights the top five guidelines for selecting the right legal counsel.

One thing sign language interpreters should know when selecting an attorney is that one size generally does not fit all. There are many misconceptions about attorneys. The generic attitude that a good attorney is something akin to a pit bull is problematic for a number of reasons that I will discuss in this post. In addition, I have several tips for identifying the kinds of attorneys that sign language interpreters might need. If you recall, we already discussed a number of legal issues that affect sign language interpreters as independent business people in How Practicing Sign Language Interpreters Protect Against Legal Liability.

TIP #1: Why do You Need an Attorney

Try this. At a dinner party, ask the attorney sitting next to you what they think about the FCC regulations on sign language interpreters working from home, the recent Supreme Court decision distinguishing interpretation from translation, or even something mundane like the HIPAA Business Associate Contract that sign language interpreters must complete to work at a hospital and watch their eyes glaze over and begin the disclaimer: ‘I don’t practice that kind of law.’

Specific Legal Need

The law is very broad. Most lawyers are subject matter specialists in one or only a few areas and in a specific geographical region. The specific legal need will drive the type of attorney that a sign language interpreter needs to consider. Have you been sued or are contemplating suing someone? Have you been charged with a crime? Are you contemplating divorce or adoption? Are you interested in an attorney who will assist you in reviewing and negotiating contracts? Are you in need of an attorney to assist you in setting up a limited liability company (“LLC”)? Are you interested in providing services in other states and need to know the requirements for foreign corporations to do business in those states?  If the sign language interpreter is seeking counsel to set up an LLC, she should not then look for a criminal defense attorney.

Locate an Attorney

Once the legal need is determined, then the search can be narrowed. I recommend using Martindale Hubble. Martindale is primarily used by attorneys to locate other attorneys for referrals or to assess opposing counsel; however, the public can search for attorneys by location and practice area. In addition, Martindale employs a peer rating system to give the user a general idea of the quality of the attorney. When you have identified an attorney, for example, to set up the sign language interpreter’s LLC, then call and ask for an initial conference or telephone interview. Most attorneys will sit down with prospective clients for a half hour or so without charge.

TIP #2:  Win-loss Records Don’t Apply

In speaking with the attorney, you should get an idea of their expertise by asking the right questions. Do not ask ‘what is your win-loss record’ because there is no such thing. The fact is that 99 percent of all cases are resolved without a trial whether it by way of an agreed upon settlement or a guilty plea in the criminal context. A guilty plea is always a win for the government, but it also may represent a very good outcome for the defendant. A civil settlement is an agreement by the parties to forego litigation in return for each giving up something and each getting something they want. In the end, no one ‘won’ yet the result may be completely satisfactory to both sides.

The Right Questions

Ask the attorney, Have you set up LLCs in the past? How many? When was the last time? Have you ever set up an LLC for an individual service provider? What other types of companies have you set up? Have you ever taken continuing legal education courses in establishing LLCs? Have you assisted small businesses in navigating the state licensing and regulatory arenas? If your attorney has only set up one or two LLCs and it has been a number of years since then, it might not be the best fit. The law changes regularly and it is important to maintain current awareness of the changes. If the attorney’s awareness is not current, again it might not be the best fit.

TIP #3:  Don’t Expect Your Lawyer to be Your CPA

Sign language interpreters, as small business owners, need competent tax advice. There are taxation implications in most areas of the law such as opening a business, writing a will, and getting divorced. Most general practitioners can give general advice on the tax code for those areas in which they specialize. However, for more in depth treatment, the wise sign language interpreter should seek advice from a specialist in taxation.

TIP #4:  If You Want a Pit Bull, go to the SPCA

If you are being sued, say for violating the provisions of a non-compete clause in a state where those are valid, you need a litigator. Many clients think that an aggressive lawyer is a competent lawyer: nothing could be further from the truth. Litigators who fight, delay and who ‘papers the other side’ with motions are simply running up your bill.

After nearly 20 years litigating, I can confidently state that an aggressive lawyer is simply an expensive lawyer.

A good litigator is a good communicator, one who can develop a rapport not only with the client but also with opposing counsel in order to facilitate a reasonable resolution to the issue. Trust and a good rapport with the client is critical so that the client understands the reason why costly legal research and motions practice needs to be undertaken and when it needs to be taken.

TIP #5:  The Attorney Client Relationship Should be Like a Good Marriage

The attorney client relationship should be built on trust not fear or resentment. The sign language interpreter should interview enough lawyers and select someone who also fits their personality type. For sign language interpreters, the relationship typically will be ongoing (assuming you do not get sued often) and it will be based on specific transactions such as setting up the initial corporate structure, reviewing contracts, negotiating terms in your behalf, and possibly assisting with licensing and regulatory issues. In sum, the sign language interpreter should enter the relationship knowing why an attorney is necessary, knowing the questions to ask to determine if the attorney is a good fit, and knowing the specific practice and geographical areas in which the attorney is competent.

Remember…

When interviewing to identify the attorney that will serve you best, remember one size doesn’t fit all. Engage specific attorneys for specific situations. Ask the right questions. Attorneys aren’t CPA’s, unless they are. An aggressive lawyer is an expensive lawyer. Trust and rapport building skills are core competencies you need. Always make sure you and your attorney are a good fit.

 

As always, this post is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Access to this post does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the user or browser.

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5 Ways Sign Language Interpreters Can Stay Inspired

Feel like your professional practice is running on empty? Brandon Arthur suggests five ways sign language interpreters can refill their tank and find renewed motivation.

How do you sustain the passion for your work as a sign language interpreter? This is a question interpreters’ and those that employ them are asking, particularly during these times of uncertainty and anxiety.

Whether you have found yourself on the receiving end of a salary reduction or are considered an artist in demand by your sign language interpreter peers, each of us experience moments in our career when we need a renewed sense of motivation.

Is the answer simply to reach inside and stir the goo that is responsible for leading us to the field of sign language interpreting? Unfortunately, the issue of reigniting passion is never simple.

How to Keep the Fire Alive

What follows are five considerations when you find yourself in need of an injection of passion for the profession we love and the important work sign language interpreters do.

Frame.  Put your “daily grind” in the right context.

When considering your daily motivation for the work, it is important to consider the context in which you evaluate your contribution. If you were to compare your 45-minute assignment at the local Post Office to working a meeting of international WASLI & WFD collaborators, you might feel as though there isn’t much to be passionate about.

Alternatively, if you put your work into the context of the person you are working with you find a different system of value. To the person at the Post Office, this 45-minute meeting may mean the difference between being able to fund their child’s college education and not. To them, your work may mean the difference. If you lack motivation, one place to find it is in the eyes of those you work with.

How do you endeavor to maintain the proper context for your work?

Create.  Develop meaningful relationships.

The sign language interpreting profession is entirely about relationships. Should you be plagued with low levels of inspiration for the work, ask yourself if you are truly connecting with your interpreter colleagues and the consumers you work in support of.

If you’re failing to consistently making these micro-investments in humanity, make it a point to do so. The time spent building relationships of trust with colleagues and consumers will not only assist you in providing better service in the moment, but will also serve to connect you to like-minded people interested in positive outcomes. Similar to iron sharpening iron, to connect is to inspire.

How do you work to create relationships of trust with your fellow sign language interpreter and the consumers you serve?

Give.  Make the time to give back.

There is tremendous power invoked by the act of giving. As sign language interpreters, the act of giving of our services is unequaled in its ability to reignite the passion we have for the work we do.

By giving, we acknowledge the karma of gratitude in bringing us to this point in our careers. This acknowledgement appropriately puts into context—at least subconsciously—the good fortune and enrichment received daily working as a sign language interpreter. When grateful for our position, we are easily able to overcome the inertia of entitlement and become the inspiration we need.

Why is giving important to you?

Teach.  Find opportunities to pay it forward.

Mentoring relationships, formal or informal, provide developing and seasoned sign language interpreters with a valuable source of support. Regardless of where we are in our professional development, taking the time to act as a mentor is a surefire way to reconnect us with our passion for the profession.

The act of mentoring elicits an awareness of the challenges and temptations we have overcome and the skill building we have invested in to get to this point in our careers. Consciously considering this iterative, transformational process reminds us that the joy is in the journey. By sharing these small victories as mentors, we lend propulsion to individual interpreters and the sign language interpreting profession as a whole. In so doing, we become a body in motion.

In what ways has your mentor, formal or informal, motivated you?

Ponder.  Take time away to gain or regain perspective.

Clearly, life and professional priorities will vary from sign language interpreter to sign language interpreter, but the result of taking time to evaluate and refocus on these priorities will reinvigorate our motivation for the work.

It shouldn’t be a secret that the sign language interpreter who has their priorities calibrated is more effective in their daily work and more adept at surviving a professional shakedown. This clarity helps them identify the symptoms of their waning motivation and quickly act to blunt its progression. The result is that these sign language interpreters maintain higher levels of motivation throughout their careers, which ultimately accounts for greater career satisfaction.

When was the last time you took time away to ponder your priorities? 

Life Manifests What We Think About

Life has a funny way of manifesting what we think about; so if you are feeling uninspired about the work you do as a sign language interpreter, I would encourage you to embrace the 5 considerations offered above. These considerations are intended to adjust our thinking in regard to the daily contributions we make by placing our work in the appropriate context. Further, they are to remind us of the importance of remaining connected to one’s true motivation for the work.

You can do a lot to stay inspired, but when finding yourself unmotivated don’t be too hard on yourself. Expecting to never feel uninspired is not realistic. When feeling uninspired pick one of the 5 considerations above and focus on it until you are comfortable taking on another one. Over time you will find the passion return for the work you love and the community that makes it possible.

What do you do to reignite your passion for the work?