Sign Language Analysis: Shielding Yourself From The Perils Of Interpreters

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According to the American Counseling Association, “The term vicarious trauma… sometimes also called compassion fatigue, is the latest term that describes the phenomenon associated with the ‘cost of carrying’ for others” (2011). Those most vulnerable to the compassion fatigue phenomenon are those who spend the most time enabling the Deaf to move between the Deaf community and the hearing community. An interpreter’s job is to convey communication from one person to another person. While sign language interpreters certainly fulfill this task, the process is much more involved than the simple transfer of information. Sign language interpretation combines such aspects as facial expressions, physical space, as well as the size and tone of signs, …show more content…
It is largely inevitable – a psychological reflex – to experience some degree of empathic pain,” and Harvey refers to these incidences as “‘a hundred echoes’ of Deaf people’s pain” (2003). Mistreatment is not isolated to the United States; around the world Deaf people experience oppression as interpreters watch from the sidelines. In a study by Lai, Heydon, & Mulayim (2015), of two hundred seventy-one interpreters in Victoria, Australia, “68% of Victorian community interpreters have to confront traumatic client material about an hour per week of their interpreting assignments” This study also reveals that a third of that sixty-eight percent “are experiencing exposure averaging 3.5 – 10 hears per week in their interpreting …show more content…
when conveying the words of the Deaf consumer. The continuous act of being someone else can be emotionally draining. Harvey (2003) states, “One interpreter reporter that ‘sometimes when I feel a Deaf consumer’s pain so much I rub my forehead just to remind myself that I’m still here . . . Even though I feel like him, I know I’m not him.’” These feelings are the starting points of vicarious trauma. The article “Teaching Interpreters About Self-Care,” explores ways that interpreters can keep themselves healthy both mentally and physically (Crezee, et al., 2015). The article outlines the following steps in the self-care approach: 1. Becoming aware of being negatively impacted, and choosing to take action, or not 2. Making a decision regarding what self-care action to take 3) Dealing with the consequences of either lack of awareness or not taking action at

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