You are the right interpreter for the job.


There’s lots of discussion among interpreters today about who should be interpreting.

Should uncertified interpreters be allowed to work? Should every assignment have a Deaf interpreter? Are non-CODAs qualified to do difficult assignments? (Or any assignments?) What about a white interpreter working at a black cultural event? What about a woman interpreting for a man’s physical?

These are all very good questions. Important questions. Questions that need to be thought through and discussed as a community.

But these questions can also paralyze us, steal our courage. Because when we hear these questions. our mind starts racing to invent a thousand reasons why we are the wrong person. We shouldn’t have accepted this assignment. We aren’t good enough. Others will find out and judge us. Deaf consumers will tell their friends and I’ll never work again.

Let’s short-circuit that.

You are the right interpreter for the job.

You showed up. You’re here. You got the assignment and not someone else. You’ve worked hard to get here. Now do the best job you can. Be generous with your skills and your personality. And go home proud. Proud doesn’t mean that you can’t learn more. Proud means: I put myself out there, I survived, and I’m a better person for it.

“It is easy to be brave from a safe distance.”  –Aesop


2 thoughts on “You are the right interpreter for the job.”

  1. As a non-US interpreter, I still find it stunning that some of these questions are even questions. Thank you for helping me make sense of what I read about the US interpreting “scene” – without your blog, about 90% of Street Leverage would be totally incomprehensible to this Brit. Sadly many of the effects you list here – the paralysis, the self-flagellation, the status-mongering – are the same, even if the issues are a little different.

    1. Thanks, Matt. Always good to hear from you. I have a feeling interpreters are “differently the same” in lots of countries… or “similarly different.”

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