Ambitious Achievers: Lillian Garcia (Interpreter Supervisor)

7 minutes

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INTERPRETER: How interpreters work is fascinating. It's a hard job. It's not easy.

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I think it'd also be a good education for deaf people to get involved in the interpreting process and see both cultures, see both worlds, both languages.

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I'm a supervisor. And in that position, that tells me something. I think that people need to be sensitive to both cultures, hearing and deaf. When I see a deaf consumer become more of a self-advocate, then I know that they understood what happened. That means that the skills I have I was able to use with that person and the language matched so well that they understood. And that's important for me.

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NARRATOR: By trade, Lillian Garcia is an interpreter for the deaf/blind and deaf community. She also supervises a staff of interpreters for the state of Massachusetts. In addition, she is the first deaf person in the United States to receive a bachelor's degree in ASL-English interpretation. Lillian's work in life is to train deaf people to become interpreters and utilize her skills to translate English and ASL to people in both cultures.

INTERPRETER: I have two roles here. I work as an interpreter/supervisor and also a screener coordinator for the commission. And I really give support to our interpreters. If a staff interpreter has a problem with some situation or something that's come up, we sit down and chat about it and give feedback. Sometimes we look at the work of the interpreter and I try to support their language development. We also have staff interpreter meetings where we get together and we talk about case studies, we talk about our role, how we represent the commission. And sometimes we need to figure out how we can share information while being confidential and working at the commission. Remember that interpreter training programs are designed for hearing students to become interpreters. And deaf interpreting as a field is new in the United States. We've only been going about 10 years. Many interpreter training programs are not prepared for deaf people to enter and major in interpreting.

So now, it's becoming more and more prevalent and the programs are starting to accept deaf people into the field of interpretation, whereas before that wasn't happening. So I think that's one reason why once it started, it was able to spread.

Right now, I interpret quite a bit. I average maybe four or five times a week. Sometimes it's in a legal situation, mental health, psychological evaluations, family therapy, individual counseling. Like for example at the Massachusetts Rehab Center, they do counseling sometimes and I'm called in to work with them there. While interpreting, often I have a hearing interpreter with me to team with me. I would be sitting next to the hearing consumer and the deaf client would be across from me, and the hearing interpreter next to that person. Communication is important. It's important to be very clear for both the hearing consumer and the deaf consumer. When I see a deaf consumer become more of a self-advocate, then I know that they understood what happened. And that's important for me.

I also work with deaf/blind people. You need to understand that it depends on the individual and how their style is. For example, some people put their one hand on your hand, and that's tactile interpreting. Some people have low vision so there's only a very limited area where they can see. So you have to sit very still in this one area and wear a certain color black clothes so they can see just in that one area. And we deaf people are used to visual cues. So we let people know while we're also interpreting the other information, a person just came in and sat down, or the person next to you just laughed. And we give them those visual cues, as well. So we incorporate what we see around us.

The skill of advocacy is very important in this role. You need to be able to understand the job of an interpreter and what their role is, what the code of ethics are, and why interpreters are there. You need to know how to be able to be supportive, how to support yourself and others. For personality traits as a supervisor, you need to be friendly, you need to be understanding, sensitive, see both sides of things. You need to be able to have trust. You need to try and be neutral. You need to be able to be an advocate. That's important.

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For me, I'm deaf. I'm not hard of hearing. I can't speak. Written English is my second language.

But I'm in interpreting. And I think it's important for me to be able to use both languages, English and ASL. And that way I can share my language with people who need it.


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In this segment, Lillian Garcia discusses her role as an interpreter supervisor. She encourages individuals who are deaf to become involved in interpreting. As an interpreter, her goal is to ensure effective communication and promote advocacy. Part of the "Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Vol. 5)" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 7 minutes

Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Vol. 5)
Episode 1
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Vol. 5)
Episode 2
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Vol. 5)
Episode 3
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Vol. 5)
Episode 4
9 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Vol. 5)
Episode 5
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Vol. 5)
Episode 6
8 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12