|Interview with a Sign Language interpreter - Apr 26|
|EPHPHATHA - 2009|
|Friday, 01 May 2009 09:44|
Meet Sign Language interpreter, Nadine O Ellis
Where and when did learn Sign Language?
I learnt Basic to Intermediate Level in Sign language at Cascade School for the Deaf from April 1997 to December 1998 with teachers who can hear. Additionally, I also received sign language training including Signing for Liturgy at the Touch of Christ RC Deaf Community during the period May 1997 to June 1999 by a tutor who is Deaf.
Who were your teachers?
I had many. At Cascade school I was taught by the following teachers from Level I to Intermediate level: Debra Boucaud-Mason, Carol Brown, Sharon Carrington and Frank Gittens. I can’t remember who taught me at Basic Level. At Touch of Christ RC Deaf Community I was taught by Marsha Duncan at all levels.
Why did you learn Sign Language?
I have no particular reason. I just wanted to be knowledgeable about the language just as any other foreign language.
Nadine O Ellis, Sign Language interpreter
On a scale of one to ten, ten being best, how would you rate your Sign Language ability?
In your opinion, which was more effective? A Deaf teacher or Hearing teacher?
Both were equal. Although the method of teaching was different between the teacher who can hear and the one who is Deaf, I received the attention and knowledge I needed to be where I am today.
Do you interpret for Deaf persons publicly?
Yes I do. Between 1998 and 2003 I used to sign at the lunchtime Masses at Sacred Heart church and at the Towers of Strength Prayer Group meetings. Now, I’m on television cable channel 10 on the first or second Sunday of the month when the Trinity Communications Network broadcast the live and pre-recorded Living Water Community Mass. I also sign for the Ministry of Social Development, Disabilities Affairs Unit. About one year ago, I had to interpret in a court room. This was my first experience in this setting.
How did you start doing this?
Through Christina Araujo, now Sr Christina Araujo.
What was your first experience? How did you feel?
In September 1996, Sr Christina had invited me to attend the Deaf church service at Zion Community, Marabella. This was my first close encounter with Deaf persons. After this experience I decided to continue attending their church Services or Masses (if there was a priest). This inspired me to formally learn the language. Sr Christina further encouraged me to interpret at the Catholic Charismatic Rally in 1997, which I had attended with the Towers of Strength Prayer Group. I was very, very nervous when I stood in front of my audience who are Deaf. How I felt at that moment did not show because I smiled a lot (I hope).
Which parts of interpreting do you prefer Spoken English to Sign Language or Sign Language to Spoken English? Why?
I have no preference because communicating information both ways is very interesting, despite its many challenges.
What encouragement do you have for persons who are learning Sign Language or have learnt Sign Language but are reluctant to use it?
Firstly, you must have the desire to interpret if you want to communicate with a Deaf person in their natural language, if not, you will not go further than their classes. However, those who are adventurous must not be shy but become open when interacting with Deaf persons. In addition to this, signing songs or the simple items on a programme of any given function is a very good starting point for interpreting publicly. This is where I started under Sr Christina’s guidance. I was like an OJT, learning the language and putting it into practice immediately. My mistakes were corrected along the way. I’m still an OJT; the learning process is continuous. Interaction with Deaf persons is one of key importance to improving your signing skill.
What can the Deaf community do to help you improve your Sign Language skills?
Be honest with their opinions on my interpreting. Tell me my mistakes after the event or session and not during.
What would you like to see done for Deaf persons in Trinidad & Tobago?
Those who posses the necessary or required educational qualifications, should be given equal employment opportunities as their counterparts who can hear.
What would you like to see done by Deaf persons in Trinidad & Tobago?
In my opinion and based on my involvement at the Touch of Christ RC Deaf Community and the Agape Deaf Centr, Siparia, I believe that those who have received a formal educational should read continuously in order to expand their horizons and assist those who have never received any formal education.
Aside from interpreting in what other ways do you assist the Deaf Community?
As the Vice President of the Board and Hearing support member of the Touch of Christ RC Deaf Community, I contribute ideas to the coordinator of the Community towards fundraising events and solving social issues. I also assist with interpreting for the Agape Deaf Centre, Siparia.
What would you like to see for Deaf persons in the Catholic Church?
Deaf persons should be encouraged to become involved with the rituals during Mass within their respective parishes. This may in turn encourage persons to learn sign language or practice what they have learnt.
What can Touch of Christ RC Deaf Community do to help?
Attend Masses and Church events more often among those who can hear and invite persons to their Church services and events. This action will showcase the talents and skills of the members of the Community. Additionally, the leadership of the Community needs to encourage wider participation among their members who are Deaf. There have been many instances where person did not attend an event because they were not informed by the leadership.
How do you think Deaf persons can bring all people both Hearing and Deaf to Christ?
Through evangelisation and outreach programmes in Trinidad and Tobago. The leadership needs to plan proper outreach programmes. Their actions will illuminate the Light of Christ from themselves unto others.