What do Deaf Interpreters Say about Formal Interpreting Education?

Participation in an Interpreting Education Program

  • Only 16% of all DI survey respondents indicated that they had completed an interpreting education program.
  • CDI holders completed interpreting education programs at a higher rate than RSC holders and the overall group of respondents.

But what this means is unclear and needs further investigation.

  • “Interpreting Education Program” seems to have had different meanings to the respondents. For example, one respondent indicated “Yes” for completing a program but indicated “N/A” for degree/certificate attained. Thus, although the response is “Yes,” the follow-up information is unclear, and possibly contradicting.

What Training Format do Deaf Interpreters Prefer?

  • Survey respondents are overwhelmingly willing to participate in online training, with 82% indicating that they would do so.
  • Only 41% of respondents were willing to relocate for interpreter training.
  • 52% of Deaf Interpreters are interested in mentorship opportunities.

Desired Length of Training

Questions about professional development needs asked respondents to indicate the length of training they are most interested in.

  • 55% of all respondents preferred a 1-2 day workshop format; this format was preferred by 33% of certified interpreter respondents.
  • 28% of all respondents preferred individual courses; this format was preferred by 15% of certified interpreter respondents.
  • 17% of all respondents preferred an in-depth program (1-2 years in length); this format was preferred by 50% of certified interpreters.

The fact that so few DI respondents prefer an “in-depth program” is consistent with the limited interest in relocating for interpreter training. It is also consistent with the fact that respondents know that an in-depth program is not currently required to be hired to work. It is surprising to see that only 28% of respondents prefer “individual courses” because those are the types of courses that would be most conducive to online training, in which 82% expressed an interest. However, it is possible that this question was misunderstood: “Individual courses” might have been understood to mean “a course for me alone.”

When we cross-referenced the educational level for those indicating certain preferences for the length of training, we found that:

  • Those who were most interested in “in-depth program” had already completed a Masters degree.
  • Half of those interested in an in-depth program were already RID-certified.

Professional Development Needs

Respondents were asked about the training area of highest interest to them: Specialty Training (e.g. in healthcare or legal interpreting), general interpreting education, or interpreting teacher training.

  • 58% of all respondents indicated they needed Specialty Training; 33% of certified interpreters agreed.
  • 27% of all respondents indicated they needed general interpreting education; 31% of certified interpreters agreed.
  • 15% of all respondents indicated they needed interpreting teacher training; 22% of certified interpreters agreed.

Asked about specific areas of needed training, the top areas of need were:

  • Healthcare interpreting (62% for medical; 60% for mental health)
  • Legal interpreting (59%).

There was also interest in learning more about visual-gestural communication, the interpreting process, interpreting with multicultural consumers, and interpreting for substance abuse meetings and treatment.

Deaf Interpreters as Educators

Respondents were asked if they provided training for Deaf Interpreters and 40% of all respondents responded “Yes.” For those respondents who indicated that they already provide training for Deaf Interpreters:

  • Approximately 72% were teaching in short-term workshop settings.
  • Of these 54 respondents who were providing short-term workshops, nineteen (35%) of them are RID-certified.
  • “Other” alternate settings where DI respondents were providing training include week-long summer courses and 1-on-1 sessions.

For more information on Deaf Interpreting Educators, see Focus Groups: DI Educator.