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“Lean In” On Interpreters

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.  Most of the criticism comes from the costs of "leaning in" to support workers like housekeepers and cooks for the modern working woman.  Hey, if I could afford people to work those jobs, I would lean in like crazy.  Like most working moms, however, I still have to manage my career and do those tasks at home.  However, the principle of "leaning in" is something that applies to our work as interpreters in a big way.  The very essence of our work is to give a boost to our Deaf clientele.  They can do the things they do without us, but we can supercharge their upward mobility when they lean in on us and we support them successfully.

No one is a better example of this than the newly appointed White House Disability Liaison, Claudia Gordon.  She is a dynamic, brilliant woman who is going just as far as her early days promised she would.  However, I'm sure there is a small group of interpreters out there doing a tiny fist pump over her success since it represents a very real commendation to the quality of the work they've been doing over the years for Ms. Gordon.  A successful partnership between a Deaf professional and their designated interpreters can truly eliminate barriers and even boost the careers of those Deaf professionals reaching for the very highest branches of success.

Understanding our client's communication goals is the primary feature of this successful relationship and informs most of the choices we make throughout the course of our working day.  Does the client want to network at that training or are they focused solely on the lecture content?  Will the doctor need a knowledgeable consent to a procedure or are they trying to get allergy information in a crisis situation?  Knowing the ultimate goals of the parties involved can help the interpreter negotiate the most elegant and efficient interpretation possible.

Congratulations to Ms. Gordon on her new position.  And a subtle fist bump to the interpreters that have done their small parts in helping Ms. Gordon be just as amazing as she can be.  It's amazing to see what a world without barriers may begin to look like.