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Interpreting has changed over many years. Now it seems that interpreters themselves change through the same levels and methods as they develop their skills and knowledge. Evaluate your interpreting level now.

  1. Helper – Many of the first interpreters were family and friends of d/Deaf people. At that time, the need was to help d/Deaf people communicate with others.

  2. Conduit – At this level, interpreters “became invisible,” and detached, simply communicating what was signed or said. This level was impersonal toward both sides.

  3. Communication Facilitator – Interpreters began to accept a more confident role, teaching hearing people about their interpreting role and arranging seating and lighting for improved communication. Interpreters also took responsibility to meet d/Deaf in advance.

  4. Bilingual Bi-cultural Professional – Interpreters began to assume responsibility for accurate communication, mediating between two languages AND two distinct and very different cultures.

  5. Ally – Having begun in educational settings, this level now supports d/Deaf people and helps avoid unintentional oppression of Deaf people. d/Deaf people are viewed as experts on Deaf Culture and sign language.

  6. Progressive – Today, this level views interpreters growing through levels 1-5. At this level, interpreters choose the method (level) needed for each individual interpreting situation.

    Can you use every level as needed? Can you quickly switch between these levels? Methods may differ in different situations. What method do you use most often? Know your interpreting level so you can improve!


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