CBC news, Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Advocates for Quebec’s deaf Anglophone community say there is a huge gap in visual interpreting services in the province — and more professionals need to be trained.
JoAnne Stump has been deaf all her life and relies on sign language to communicate. (CBC)
Thousands of deaf Anglophones in Quebec use American sign language to communicate in their day-to-day lives. But only a handful of qualified
interpreters are trained to translate the sign language into spoken English.
JoAnne Stump has been unable to hear her whole life, and has difficulty communicating through speech.
American sign language is her main tool for communication, and she relies heavily on a translator.
“If I go to the hospital, or if I go to the doctor’s, and if I’m asking too many questions, they don’t [always] have time to write out their answers,
for example,” Stump told CBC via her interpreter, Liz Scully.
Scully is one of approximately 10 Quebec interpreters qualified to translate sign language into spoken English.
“I find that I have to turn down work, because you can’t be everywhere at once, and the demand is greater than the supply,” she said.
Liz Scully is one of a handful of Quebec visual translators trained in English. (CBC)
Scully said she trained abroad to earn her certification because there was no comprehensive program available in Quebec.
Amateur translators can provide services “with good intentions,” Scully said, “but, in fact, they’re not able to handle the two activities of
listening, and signing, or watching the sign, as produced by a deaf person, and changing that into spoken English. So that becomes a challenge.”
University of Quebec in Montreal (UQÀM) linguistics lecturer Suzanne Villeneuve said there is a growing need for a formal, bachelor’s degree
program in visual interpretation in Quebec.
“There is some training available, and there is a certificate in visual interpretation at the UQÀM, but this training is simply not sufficient,”
She authored a study two years ago examining the need for visual interpretation training, and submitted it to Quebec’s Education Department.
A spokesperson for the ministry said it is looking at the recommendations.