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Strategies for ASL Interpreters to Use in Unique Situations

Feb 10, 2022 | Interpreter Education

by: Judy Beldon-Feldman CSC, NIC-M - Interpreter Coordinator

Unique situations make life interesting. When they happen while we are working, it may lead to a situation where a person may not be able to think of other options. In this blog series, we will look at a scenario and discuss the possible options so we have something ready to use.

The assignment is at a location where the interpreter will not be permitted into the room. Perhaps it is an MRI appointment, X-ray, or any other situation where it is a liability to the facility for the interpreter to be in the room.

  • Should the interpreter let the facility know that they are willing to take the risk and insist on going into the room with the patient?
  • Should the interpreter let the patient know that they are not able to go into the room and find a seat and wait for the patient in the hall?
  • Should the interpreter allow the patient and facility to discuss the situation and come to an agreement?
  • Should the interpreter suggest some possible options for communication?

In this situation, I would suggest once it has become known that the facility will not let the interpreter into the room, that the Deaf patient is included on all discussion or decisions. That way the Deaf person can begin to advocate for what communication is necessary. Oh, I should mention, I was in this same situation and there is technology out there that is supposed to work in appointments like this. However, as we know technology doesn’t always work as intended. In this case, the patient wanted to make sure they knew when to hold their breath, and when they could move to adjust themselves without compromising the scans.

I would also suggest that we allow time for the technician and the Deaf patient to come up with their own solution without stepping in. It’s often during what may seem like an impasse that the most creative options are presented. If both are agreeable, then go with it and add a new option to your repertoire. You can never have too many!

If you find yourself in a situation where the two parties have not come up with their own solution, here’s one you may want to explain and see if they would be willing to try…

The patient knows that the technician will tap them once (on the shoulder or leg, whichever is most comfortable to the Deaf patient) when it is time to hold their breath or stay still. Then the technician will tap the patient twice when they can breathe normally or are able to move. And finally, the technician will tap three times when the scan, procedure, or x-ray, is complete.

This is only one option… share other options with each other and feel free to try them!

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