Thursday, October 29, 2015

What are some different ways that Deaf persons work with interpreters?

Communication Methods: Ways that Deaf persons work with an interpreter. ASL is one of the top languages used within Deaf communities. Interpreters need to follow each Deaf individual's language preference, such as American Sign Language, PSE ("contact sign," which is a mix of ASL signs and English-like signing), or Signing Exact English ("SEE," a manual code for English words). If a school requires ASL, and then a Deaf student transfers from another school that uses SEE, it could take some time for this individual to pick up ASL.

We are not always able to determine which interpreter's skills will best fit a particular Deaf consumer's preferences. Some Deaf people communicate with visual gestures, and these individuals may not fully understand English. In this situation, using a lot of ASL vocabulary may not be as effective in the interpreting situation. Sometimes, educational interpreters must use juggle both ASL and PSE, while a Deaf student struggles to strengthen his or her ASL and English skills. With a student who lacks fluency in language and in manual codes, an educational interpreter may rely primarily on visual-gestural communication.

A deaf person with "high-visual-gestural" skills and limited ASL and English skills may need more than an interpretation in order to learn. He or she may derive more benefit from special educational instruction than from sitting in a class watching an interpreter. Sometimes, one-on-one assignments may offer the chance for an interpreter and a deaf person to work out the most effective communication methods for their situation.

When deaf students join clubs, sports teams, and before-and-after-school activities, this participation with hearing students may be of benefit in expanding language and communication skills. Watching an interpreter who is using a language or code that is not understood may cause a student to feel lost. Interpreters with skills in various communication methods can provide opportunities for deaf students to better understand and communicate.

Who should hire interpreters? Should this be the responsibility of a Human Resources or Special Education department? Can a person who doesn't know any sign language select an interpreter capable of working effectively with deaf students who use differing communication styles? The IEAP brought up the challenge of situations in which the deaf person does not let the interpreter know that he or she does not understand the messages. Sometimes an interpreter feels it is their duty to just "interpret" rather than to ensure that communication messages are getting through. I work to evaluate interpreters to assess their abilities in communicating through visual-gestural styles, as well as through ASL, PSE, and manual codes for English. I work to make sure that interpreters are capable of providing clear communication for individuals and groups with differing communication styles.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What are some secrets that you would love to share with your fans?!

Ha! I've got several secrets: working out, modeling, photography, and flower gardening. Modeling is something that gives me an opportunity to show that “Deaf people can do anything!” However, communicating with the photographers is challenging. I'm looking forward to getting a chance to work with Deaf photographers someday! I like taking good care of myself, drinking plenty of water, keeping in shape, and spending some relaxing time at a spa or pampering myself at a salon. Oh, and I'm a chocolate lover, too!

One of my least favorite moments in life is trying to catch the 2nd flight after a quick layover! Often, I've had to run from gate to gate not to miss the 2nd flight. I hate the feeling of getting all “out of breath”. Airlines and hospitality services are often not very accommodating about communicating with Deaf customers. When there are annoying lapses in customer services, I always try to write about my concerns so that these industries will become more well-educated! Hopefully, then they'll treat their next Deaf consumers BETTER!!!
Photography is a lot of fun, very peaceful and a great stress reliever! I love taking nature photos, especially animals, flowers, forests, and sunsets at the beach. I love wiggling my toes in the sand along the beach! Perhaps I'm a beach gal, I have always dreamed of owning a beach house. Maybe one day it will happen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why is Professional Development so Important to ASL Interpreters?

New discoveries must always be made to keep pace with the current standards of interpreting audiences, to maintain and enhance interpreters' knowledge and skills, and to stay relevant and up-to-date in the profession. Awareness of changing trends and directions in both the interpreting profession and Deaf culture will always be necessary. Likewise, it is important to understand the differences between Deaf and hearing cultures and to professionally and appropriately interpret the respective languages and cultural expressions.

An interpreter who continues to use obsolete signs, and to rely on outdated knowledge, will see that the Deaf community loses respect for that interpreter’s professional skills. New signs are constantly evolving, and the Deaf community continues to create new signs to keep up with new terminology and technological advances. I advocate for professional development that keeps pace with these emerging trends. This is especially vital in specialized interpreting fields (e.g., educational, legal, and mental health contexts). Professional development allows interpreters to keep up with new terms and phrases used by the general community, and new signs that keep in sync with trends in the Deaf community. Maintaining a professional profile requires professional development.

In my training sessions, I enjoy seeing participants update their sign inventory. In training, I have to code switch, choosing signs carefully to keep interpreters current. I may choose to sign more slowly in order to help interpreters grasp particular concepts. As I teach, I provide demonstrations in order to make sure the participants get all the information they need.

I work with both interpreters and the Deaf community, and I conduct “research” in both communities to keep up-to-date. Some deaf consumers have no idea how to work with their interpreters on matters concerning linguistic studies, the CPC, or placement during an assignment. I provide additional training for the Deaf community to ease their interactions with interpreters. Different Deaf communities come from varied socioeconomic levels and there are groups that may have greater strengths in American Sign Language or in the English language. I demonstrate current natural language trends in both ASL and English. Professional interpreters must understand and customize interpreting for their audiences. For example, ASL dialects have a big impact on the quality of VRS interpreting. To aid interpreters, I continuously keep alert to changing English expressions and to evolving ASL adaptations. I demonstrate these in my video clips and workshops. In any profession, and certainly in a language-related profession, it is important to attend training sessions and stay up-to-date with linguistic changes.

My goal is to make a meaningful contribution, helping interpreters become more effective in the workplace, and encouraging them to advance their careers. This may involve moving into specialized fields like educational interpreting, signing for VRS companies, and increasing knowledge in medical, legal, and other types of interpreting. As I train interpreters, I see that they gain experience with new possibilities, new knowledge, and new skills, such as how classifiers have been used with current concepts, and how best to translate English idioms.

I deliver a deeper understanding of what it means to be a professional. I have always enjoyed sharing cultural exchanges through storytelling and through providing examples of exactly how to improve voiced interpreting. Also, by advancing our body of knowledge and deploying technology (e.g., YouTube, mobile videos, etc.), I can help to lower public apprehension and to increase public confidence in individual professionals. Professional development of this caliber raises interpreting standards.

I also share many interpreters’ real-life stories, including their tales of accidental sign bloopers that have led to negative results. I train participants to successfully endure many challenges and to avoid mistakes. Sharing real-life stories allows participants the opportunity to realize that they are not alone. Stories and examples from working interpreters support hard-working professionals and the lessons learned please interpreting audiences. 

There are numerous specific meanings that may require sensitivity in interpreting.


•       “sleeping together”: This phrase may convey that two people slept in a single, shared bed. Perhaps there is an implication that the two people had sex, but this is not necessarily the meaning that is intended.

•       "mammogram": The old-fashioned sign could look scary to some people. A better alternative is to sign “breast x-ray” at first, followed by a brief explanation of the procedure, and then subsequently using the correct sign.

ASL semantics as used in various contexts:

•       vibration: This depends on what is vibrating. A vibrating phone looks much different than vibrating, buzzing bees.

•       sex: Again, this depends on what or who is having sex. Sex between dogs looks very different than reproductive processes between flowers.

•       cut: Instead of a single, generic sign used to represent all kinds of cuts, this verb requires agreement, as it is directional and location-specific. Thus, it should be signed on the specifically-affected area of the body.

Some words need to be fingerspelled rather than “signed” because there are many meanings attached to the concepts and their context is quite sensitive. Some examples of words that should be fingerspelled include: weapons, drugs, suicide, abuse, victim, terrorism, and cancer.

Sensitivity while voice interpreting: Many interpreters have asked me about the appropriate terms to use while voice-interpreting, especially on the platform at conferences. Voice interpreting in a culturally sensitive manner at these functions is important, yet many interpreters have never had an opportunity to learn culturally appropriate terminology for these situations. To address these concerns, I put together a chart for my "Voice Interpreting" workshop.

Overall, I love working with interpreters and I enjoy guiding them as they upgrade their professional skills and knowledge. Appreciation for professional interpreters strengthens our Deaf world!  ~ Trix

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Journaling: Why write?

The good news: New signs are always appearing and coming into wide use, and you want to remember them. The bad news: No one has recorded these "new" signs, cataloging them on video for the benefit of students, educators, interpreters and researchers.

How can you capture and preserve these glimpses of "new" signs – at least signs that are new to you? Perhaps you grasp the main focus of one of these signs, but find it challenging to remember the live nuances. There are others that you seem to understand in context, and yet still aren’t sure about. What’s the solution?

Journal! Keeping a journal is one of my favorite ways to help myself mentally "record" signs or grammatical elements that have touched me or made me say to myself, "Far out!" One of my favorite times to collect "new" signs is during videophone conversations with native Deaf signers from different regions. I strongly recommend making a habit of writing sign observations down in a mini-notebook that you keep on hand, all the time. I’ve really enjoyed sharing these new signs with my friends, participants, mentors, and you! Keeping a "sign journal" not only develops a treasure of new information, but also represents an important investment in your career.

Without writing in a journal, you’ll find it impossible to remember everything you’ve had the opportunity to see. No kidding – my mind has no room for so many new bits of information. I have to keep my journal to avoid the mistake of losing my precious new knowledge. Once, I had a great time observing and "learned" many new signs, but I didn’t write them down. What happened? I lost them. Write signs down! Create several pages: New signs, Converting Signing Exact English (SEE) to ASL, Classifier Handshapes, "Far Out" Signs, and Personal Memos.


New Signs:
(new signs that haven’t been recorded) Vlog, Iphone , money-check

Signing Exact English (SEE): Credit card

Classifier Handshape: (the appearance of a new handshape, a predicate used as a verb) Pager signal, Tornados, love bugs, scorpion

Far Out Sign: (exaggerated or "cute" signs, such as details added by a signer for fun or extra emphasis) Licking one’s fist means "working hard!" Licking one’s fingers means "perfect".

Personal Memo: (Dear Nobody, new terms, new Deaf words, new Hearing perspectives, signs that have personal importance to you)

"Written communication is the essence of human sincerity."

Journaling seems so sweet and simple. The mini notebook is fabulous! I carry mine with me all the time, and when I grasp a brand new sign, I write it down, immediately. I can’t believe there are so many signs that haven’t yet been taught in classes or recorded in research projects. Whether socializing, chatting with people on the phone, or watching live ASL storytellers – you’ll find chances to add fascinating new signs to your personalized journal. Keep on writing!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What does your travel schedule look like?


Every booking requires a lot of related work: booking flights, setting up lodging, renting a car, and making other plans.  Some hosts take care of everything, which works very well for my time frame since I do not employ a booking agent or manager to handle my paperwork and arrangements.  I do set up everything on my own for the workshops and shows.  I much prefer to have an organization host an evening show, as I feel silly selling tickets on my own, and it takes far too much time. Selling tickets is a responsibility that should be shouldered by the hosting organization, not by the presenter.


Packing, packing, and packing to get everything ready to go! Sometimes I forget a few things, but I'm getting better at remembering almost everything. I prefer to pack 2-3 days in advance. I have my own small room full of travel size stuff, work clothes, handouts, DVDs, and such so that I can easily get the packing done.


I always get up very early, drive an hour to get to the airport, and park my truck in the airport parking lot. Going to the airport requires a lot of walking, so I wear good shoes and comfortable, warm clothes. Checking in, I use my mobile boarding pass which is much easier than printing out paper boarding passes. Getting through security usually takes a lot of time, especially if they have a long line, so I sometimes use the premier lane for a shorter line. It's hard to predict how much time it will take to get through security. Sometimes they do a pat-down. When they scan me, a hairpin or hair clamp can cause a problem. I need to remind myself to take these off before entering the scanner.

If there are at least 45 minutes to wait for my flight, I always try to get some hot cocoa to relax while waiting to board. Sometimes the plane is delayed, which makes me anxious about catching the connecting flight. If the 1st flight arrives late, I have to rush to the 2nd flight without any bathroom or hot cocoa breaks. That's the worst - running from one gate to another to try to catch the second flight!  Sometimes I miss the connecting  flight, resulting in missing some or all of the scheduled work for  the evening of that day.

Once we've landed and I've checked into or out of the hotel at last, the all-day flight usually takes 8-10 hours. 


I depend a lot on the GPS to help me get to my destinations. Sometimes I get lost due to construction, detours or closed roads. I also need to keep my GPS updated. 


I'm sure you can imagine how exhausting this is, and how my body reacts to jet lag. I have to get up early to catch my morning flight. If my plane leaves at 6 am from the East, I have to get up at  4 am (Seattle’s time: 1 am).  I usually sleep on the flight, but not always. Passengers sitting behind me are sometimes annoying, kicking or pushing behind me. That keeps me awake for the whole flight.


I joke with my friends, saying that when I leave the house, and return, I punch a time card. Traveling takes a tremendous amount of time. My friends noticed how MUCH traveling time is demanded by my work, and how little income must sustain me. It doesn’t meet their expectations. I keep track of time wherever I go, and I track the expenses for each trip. I really love my job, but the aspect of traveling takes so much time. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Trix, what do you think of interpreters out in the world?

From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate all of the interpreters providing professional excellence within the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hearing communities. In the past, there were very few interpreters available, but now you see so many wonderful interpreters busy at work, everywhere you look. This is outstanding for our communities, and I feel that we can never thank these interpreters enough. Their high-caliber training and performance are a wonder to behold. Whether interpreters invest in the community as volunteers or as people who make interpreting a career, they provide vitally important services that truly show "Deaf Heart." They give their best to their craft.

Some interpreters struggle with performance on the job, but we appreciate that they are doing their best. Some are real champs who we would love to have around full time. Interpreters specialize in many fields: legal, medical, mental health, performance, and education. Whichever paths they take, they contribute their skills and make a difference. Now, there are even video phone interpreters available. It's amazing to see the growth of availability, areas of expertise, training and talent in the field of interpreting. My strongest recommendation to all interpreters who ask how to improve is simply to “Practice, Practice, & Practice!”  

I want to say thank you to all of those who gave me compliments about my work! With the various workshops available at an event, it is possible to make many choices. This can be beneficial for consumers, but it can also be difficult to fit in all of the things you want to see when there are many events going on at the same time. When I am presenting, I try to avoid scheduling conflicts that interfere with other events. One time, I learned that an RID chapter was hosting a conference, so I had to cancel my originally-planned workshop immediately and offer to present my workshop at their conference. Some interpreters expressed to me that they learned a lot about differences between Deaf and Hearing presenters with different perspectives. Some presenters have full time work and do presentations as a side job. Some hosts were not aware that in my case, presenting is my full-time job. I enjoy traveling and meeting various Deaf communities.

A lot of people asked me if I will bring my own interpreter to a workshop or show. No. I prefer to have a variety of interpreters work with me. It's always fun working with them. Do I have a favorite interpreter? My favorite interpreter is any individual who is always growing. I do have a particular interpreter who I tend to request for personal situations such as medical appointments and my children’s school meetings, but for my career, I have enjoyed seeing so many interpreters who express their passion for their field as they work with me. They (and all of you) are awesome for giving your time and talent within our communities.

Thank you, Interpreters!


Friday, January 31, 2014

How did you start publishing your DVDs?

ASL Semantics
When I was young, I dreamt of being an author, writing books for everyone to read. Fortunately, however, my ASL talents proved stronger than my writing abilities!  Once I brought a book I'd written to a publisher who supported Deaf schools, but my book was declined. I felt that my writing was not great. Then, a mentor and business consultant encouraged me to use my hands to express myself! And there, I found my talent. So far, I've produced more than a dozen DVDs.
To create a DVD, you need a start-up investment, a script, a time-frame, and a business plan with a budget for filming, editing and marketing the video. Although I'm familiar with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premier, and other resources, and I can produce a script and come to a point when I think I'm ready to get it on camera, it can take a lot more time than I originally planned to get everything recorded! I'm grateful for the patience shown by my DVD publishers, because sometimes I make silly mistakes, and have to start over and sign things again and again! When I watch my own hilarious bloopers, I really am amazed at how silly I can be. Once, I signed something and then fell down when a fly zoomed in front of me. Another time, I just froze and forgot what I was supposed to say next! Sometimes I finger-spell something wrong, because I'm so focused on what I'm signing. It's always a challenge to get the recordings done, but we have fun in the process.

After all of the “signing” parts are over, we sit down and watch the footage to choose the best parts and get them in order. Editing, retouching, cleaning-up, and all of those fun tasks can take up to a month to complete. Once I've got a “final draft”, I send it out to my editor as well as to certain viewers and friends to make sure there are no silly mistakes, glitches, or parts that make people say, "What?"  After gathering all this feedback and making corrections, we polish everything, confirm the final version, and that DVD is ready to go!

Currently, I have only one vendor, Harris Communications. This great company has been so good to me for a long time, but I am also hoping to expand to bookstores and other sales venues.  Amazon sells two of my DVDs. Running my own business as a workshop presenter, keynote speaker, stage performer and video producer is deeply rewarding, so I no longer worry about those publishers who turned down my books. Thanks to video technology, multimedia enhancements for my workshops and performances, great people to work with, and all I have learned, I feel I have had plenty of successes and it seems sometimes that my whole life is just magical.

Check out Trix Bruce's DVDs!

With these video programs, you can earn CEUs from the comfort of home! You’ll be able to improve your ASL storytelling techniques and interpreting skills.