(Image courtesy of SigningSavvy.com)
Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) are a wonderful, but often neglected component of successful interpreted interactions in today’s interpreting world. They are most commonly used in situations where the consumer has communication demands which may not be able to be met by the standard hearing interpreter. These demands may stem from mental, physical, or linguistic demands of the consumer.
There is a movement of individuals who feel that interpreters should be required, by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, to work with a CDI in specialized settings. Members of this camp would argue that a CDI should be present in every situation that could potentially could prove life altering for the Deaf consumer, and that a hearing interpreter who does not work in conjunction with a CDI may actually be violating the CPC by not adopting this into their standard practices. Still more individuals from the larger community would claim that a CDI should be summoned for most, if not all, medical and legal settings. On the other hand, some believe that if the hearing interpreter is unable to meet their clients’ needs without CDI support then the interpreter should not be accepting these assignments; in other words, a skilled hearing interpreter should be capable of managing the demands for each assignment with appropriate control.
Many factors contribute as to why CDIs are not utilized with greater regularity. These include the financial burden of hiring an additional interpreter, the fact that the hearing interpreter often does not know the specific demands of an assignment before entering into it, and the decision-making process each interpreter must face as they evaluate the necessity of a CDI during a given assignment.
Despite the various perspectives on the role of CDIs in the interpreting profession, no one can deny that the topic is gaining momentum. What are your experiences working with CDIs and what are your views on implementing partnerships with CDIs into the standard practices of interpreters?