Brenda Cartwright, M.S., CSC, CI and CT

Dear Encounters With Reality


Recently I was interpreting a training at a large company. During the break, the Deaf client left to use the restroom. Several of the employees were chatting and one guy started telling a really dirty joke. I was offended but I wondered if we as interpreters have a right to object in these situations?


Even though you overheard this joke it doesn’t really involve you. Part of being an interpreter means hearing things that might make you angry or disgusted. You are there for your Deaf client and that should be your focus. Continue to be impartial, finish the job, and from then on use your discretion as to whether or not you want to interpret there again.


If the Deaf client wasn’t in the room and they missed the telling of the joke, then there is no reason for you to repeat the joke. It is up to the client to speak up if something at the meeting offends them. For you to get involved may adversely impact the client. You are only there interpreting one day. The Deaf client is there the rest of the year.

 Brenda Cartwright, M.S.M., CSC, CI and CT, has been the Director of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College for over 30 years. She holds an undergraduate degree from Ball State University and graduate degrees from Ball State and Indiana University. She is a Coda with a bilingual cat named Coda.

What did you think of this article? Send your feedback to the authors/editors by clicking here!