True Confidence for New Interpreters

William Woods ASL

American Sign Language Interpreters

There is always new ground to cover in American Sign Language interpreting, and new interpreters — no matter how practiced or knowledgeable or sharp — can only gain experience from time in the field. Thankfully, experienced interpreters can pass on ideas and personal experiences to help new interpreters gain confidence, and understand certain situations.

For example, ASL Interpreter Sharon Neumann Solow reminds interpreters to be aware of the natural attention drawn to them — especially in performance situations. She notes both healthy and less helpful uses of personal pride in her talk “Genuine Confidence: Why Can’t It Be All About Me?” at StreetLeverage’s Live conference.

“Our capacity to put our own egos aside and focus on the needs of the participants will make us the best we can be,” she says.

Neumann Solow reminds interpreters that sometimes their job is to make sure they aren’t “stealing the spotlight”, giving an example from a wedding where she interpreted — the attention was for the bride and groom, and her job was to make sure she didn’t steal the show.

ASL-English interpreting students at William Woods University discuss various decisions such as these, including the interpreters’ role in performance situations. Each student takes ASL 220 Ethics and Decision Making, where they identify their purpose and how they can best fulfill their duties as an interpreter, while still enjoying the good kind of attention that makes being an interpreter such a special job.