In the U.S., Deaf individuals who use a signed language as their preferred and dominant means of communication are considered a distinct linguistic and cultural group known as the Deaf community. Sign language interpreters, particularly non-native signers who are leaning ASL, are frequently encouraged to associate with the Deaf community as part of their language acquisition process. However, interpreters who are not deaf or native signers, especially students, often experience tension as they interact with the Deaf community. The literature is divided on whether hearing interpreters who learn ASL later in life, even those who are arguably bilingual and bicultural, are able to attain Deaf community membership. The guiding questions for this study are: According to their own perspectives, can hearing, ASL-English interpreters be members of the Deaf community? If they are members, what qualifies them as members, and if not, why not? Three interpreters were interviewed to elicit their views on hearing interpreters’ fit within the Deaf community. Qualitative analysis in ELAN uncovered three primary themes; participants’ definition of Deaf community and who can be a member, what participants’ saw as requirements for interpreter membership, and caveats to such membership. While ASL fluency, attitude, and cultural competency were found to be important, a key finding is that participants agree interpreters’ membership is dependent upon the Deaf community extending an invitation and is not something they can claim for themselves.
Miner, Cami J.
"Finding their Fit: An Exploratory Study of Interpreters’ Perceptions of their Membership in the Deaf Community,"
Journal of Interpretation: Vol. 29:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unf.edu/joi/vol29/iss1/4