West Virginia University now provides in-house interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing. The in-house service, which began in January and already has been used at such events as Commencement and Special Olympics, brings an important service to a small, yet significant group on campus.
In addition to working at special events, the in-house interpreters have provided services to four students this summer by serving as interpreters in their classes and in their meetings with instructors and advisors. During the fall semester, they plan to provide services to at least four to five students.
Currently WVU Disability Services employs four interpreters and contracts out two others through Human ResourcesMountaineer Temps program. The interpreters are highly qualified individuals who should be certified on the higher endlevel III , IV, or Vof the standards established by the Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf (RID). This generally means proficiency in both American Sign Language and Signed English, the prevalent forms of communication among the hard of hearing in the US. Some also have the experience of being the child of a deaf adult (CODA).
WVUs interpreters are overseen by Rebecca Berger, a counselor in Disability Services who has had about 13 years of experience with the deaf community.
Being an interpreter is a whole profession in itself,she said.
In addition to needing to adapt from situation to situation and mold him or herself to fit the needs of a client, Berger explained that an interpreter must interpret everything that is happening in a situation. This includes not only what a speaker has to say but all the reactions and interaction of the audience.
The responsibility of the interpreter is to facilitate communication,Berger said.
Not only does an interpreter communicate with a client, but the interpreter also must act as a transliterator and interpret what the client wants to communicate with everyone else, she added.
Its been very rewarding and very interesting,says CODA and Level IV interpreter Dolly Ford of her eight years of freelance work as an interpreter.Ive learned a lot.
In the future Berger hopes to sustain the role of the interpreters and to strengthen WVU s role within the deaf community in a state where there are only 12 RID qualified interpreters. The programs goal is to provide better and more consistent service, and promote more understanding of what the interpreters do.
Anyone with questions about this service should feel free to contact Berger at 304-293-6700 or e-mail Rebecca.Berger@mail.wvu.edu .