Darren Chittick, NIC

DarrenChittick

Where is your hometown?
Wabash, Indiana

How long have you been a member of RID?
I’ve been a member since March of 2006

How did you become interested in the field of interpreting?
It was an accident. I met a Deaf guy with whom I became quick friends and learned from him. Six months later I was working in the Deaf community and the rest is history.

What is the most rewarding part of the profession?
For me, the entire job is pretty great. I need variety to stay interested. I get plenty of that. I love the mental challenge this job offers because of the level of attention we have to offer what is being communicated. The most rewarding, though, are those moments when I can see that I’ve done good. I don’t mean well, I mean good. We’ve all been in hard situations that could have gone horribly wrong if not for our commitment to our work, to staying true to the message, and having made the choices requisite to becoming a skilled interpreter. Those moments, when everything gels and people understand each other clearly… those are the most rewarding.

What is the most frustrating part of the profession?
The constant battle to convince the average hearing professional that my services are needed. That would probably tie with the idea that closed captioning isn’t needed because there is an interpreter and that using them is just so I can have a break.

Describe your most memorable moment.
Early in my career, I took advantage of a volunteer opportunity that meant interpreting for someone in a group who had been attending for a long time but without an interpreter. Without giving too much detail, the group was a very integral part of this person’s well-being and when I showed up and started signing, the shift in this person’s mood was visible. Suddenly, there was this full access to something that had been vague and misunderstood. As I was interpreting that first night I suddenly thought to myself, “This is the reason I learned sign language.”

What advice do you have for new graduates entering the field?
Ask questions. Don’t take jobs that you don’t feel comfortable with. When you walk into a class and one of the first things you share with an experienced team is that you aren’t familiar with the vocabulary of the subject matter, it is so very frustrating. If you don’t know the words being used in English, there is no possible way that you are going to be able to offer access to that student.

Who is the interpreter(s) you admire most?
This is a loaded question. There are so many. Pam Patton-Richards, Jayne Kercheval, Judith Carson, and Jennifer Place-Lewis are the three folks who have been the most influential interpreters in my career. Pam because of the amazing fluidity of her signing and her complete commitment and passion to what she is doing. Jayne and Judith for all the years that they kicked my butt and pushed me and all the support they offered, along with Pam, to get me to take the certification exams. Jennifer because of the amazing team that she is and for the feedback she provides that lets me know when I’m on and when I need to adjust my sign choices or word usage. She is always respectful and tremendously skilled.

What is something members would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a second-degree blackbelt karate instructor who knits like a madman.