January 2019 Member Spotlight

Michael “Mikey” Krajnak, CDI
Richmond Hill, GA
Region II

What kind of interpreting do you do? Where does your passion lie?

I do a lot of different kinds of interpreting! I don’t prefer legal interpreting, but I really like theater and DeafBlind interpreting. For theatrical interpreting, I am not afraid to stand on stage or have a platform. But I really enjoy DeafBlind interpreting. Interpreting for an underserved community is important to me. And I really enjoy this community here in Georgia.

How has interpreting provided opportunities to you?

I am a white male. I am privileged, and interpreting has made me more mindful of my privilege. I am constantly involved with different communities and I recognize other people’s struggles and needs. As an interpreter, I am here to learn and recognize their needs and accept them. It is most important in this profession to be respectful. Many interpreters see it as being a “gatekeeper”. I don’t see it like that – it’s about being in it with the consumer and ensuring that all communication needs are met.

Interpreting is not black and white. The Deaf community is a very diverse community and different interpreters are needed throughout. There are different opportunities say in the Black-Deaf and LGBT communities. For example, if a consumer is more comfortable with a POC interpreter, then we will work as a team to ensure that the needs of the consumer are met. What the consumer requires to ensure they are in control is what we will do.

Is there a golden rule for interpreting? What is that rule for you?

First and foremost – Respect the client and consumer. In the end, it is not about the interpreter. If you feel like you’re entering a situation that will upset you or there is a personal conflict, then think about the consumer first and know when to remove yourself from the situation before it begins. You never want to pressure or oppress the consumer; also, know that they have the power to decide if you are a right fit for them.

What words of encouragement do you have for new interpreters or those who are interested in becoming an interpreter?

RUN! No, no, only joking. Really, just be flexible. Know there is a separation between personal and professional. Know how to address a situation both personally and professionally in different scenarios.

Have an open mind and an open heart. Be able to accept feedback – both good and bad. If someone says “YOU SUCK,” don’t take it personally, take it as feedback and grow from that.

You must work with Deaf interpreters. There must be a collaboration between all interpreters in this field – Deaf interpreters, hearing interpreters, and CODAS.

Anything more you’d like to add for our members?

I am not afraid to speak up and speak my mind. I can be a sounding board for the membership – giving my opinion, learning facts, and conversing with others. I feel RID needs people like that getting involved. This year I will be attending the Deaf Interpreter Conference in WOU and represent myself as National Deaf Interpreter Secretary.

It is my hope that in the future RID and interpreter testing becomes more transparent for our communities. I hope it becomes more Deaf-friendly for its members as well, and more open to all of our diverse communities. That will lead to greater success that we haven’t seen in a while.

Member Bio:

Michael “Mikey” Krajnak, a Staten Island native, became a CDI in February 2010. He is newly retired and living in a suburb of Savannah, GA doing freelance interpreting. His passion is working with the DeafBlind community and in theatre. He currently serves in the National Deaf Interpreter organization as Secretary. During his leisure time, he enjoys checking out new restaurants, local art shops, spiritual stores, parks, and attending Queer events, reading books, and watching Netflix.

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