Sign Language Interpretation Makes Inclusivity Accessible

Amirah is my colleague at The Singapore Association for the Deaf. I’ve known her since March 2015. This video from OGS briefly showcases the work that she does.

Amirah is a Sign Language Interpreter at The Singapore Association for the Deaf.

For anybody who does not know what Sign Language (SL) is and how SL interpreting works, let me be the first to tell you that SL interpretation is difficult. I am not an interpreter. But, I had opportunities to interpret over the years. It is incredibly challenging and understatedly so. Seeing a SL interpreter in a little box on national television reveals little about what goes on behind the scenes.

From my non-interpreter perspective, I’d describe the challenge in SL interpreting as such: It is easier to read signs and understand them than it is to read signs, understand, and turn them into flowing English sentences. This only clicked in my mind many months ago.

How do I feel that to be true? When watching vlogs and interacting with Deaf individuals, I’ve stopped trying to ‘see the English’ in my head. It really is much easier to comprehend what someone else is saying when you commit to reading the signs and understand them in your head. The part that slays me is when I read the signs and mentally interpret them into grammatically correct English sentences. Doing that loads my mind and makes visual processing an arduous task. It feels like I am trying to do a task requiring four persons.

Nowadays, I read signs without interpreting them in my head. I feel that I slowed the growth of white hairs on my head. I also expect to reverse ageing by improving my signing and comprehension. Or, I might just be pulling the wool over your eyes (and head for that matter).

P.S. Happy Birthday, Amirah!