Overview of Presentation
Why do most interpreters switch every twenty minutes? Interpreting team members commonly switch their working roles of providing primary service (the “A” interpreter role) and that of monitoring the interpretation (the “B” interpreter role) every twenty minutes in order to maintain consistency and avoid deterioration of the integrity of the interpretation due to fatigue. Brasel’s 1976 research provided supporting evidence that this approach provides for best practices within teamed interpreting. Thirty-five years later, Brasel’s research has not been satisfactorily replicated until this current study, which investigated a pool of professional interpreters working within a post-secondary educational setting.
This presentation reviews Brasel’s original research, the current practices within our profession, and the results of the study with specific implications for how to modify our current best practices for optimum consumer satisfaction with interpreting services while reducing our own stress and overuse symptoms as professional service providers
Interpreters working in teams generally transition every twenty to twenty-five minutes between direct provision of service (“A” role) and supporting and monitoring the interpretation (“B” role). The only research that supports this pattern is Brasel’s 1976 study, which indicated that interpreter fatigue begins to negatively impact the quality of signed language interpretations after twenty minutes.
This presentation provides a review of a new and on-going study, which seeks to partially replicate Brasel’s original study in order to determine what the current best practices in interpreting should be for switching roles. Subjects were staff ASL/English interpreters at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, in Rochester, NY who were video recorded during their normal interpreting assignments as part of regular ongoing professional development. Multiple recordings for each interpreter within several settings provided baseline comparisons as an effort to establish consistency of performances and eliminate poor work due to having an “off day”. Recordings were systematically analyzed to determine the first onset for a certain class of errors (repaired slips of the hand) and the subsequent performances.
At the time of this proposal the data collection process is on-going and results have yet to be determined, but they are guaranteed to reveal statistics regarding average durations of interpretations prior to performance deterioration. These results will inform the remainder of the presentation and provide specific recommendations for generating successful interpretations of longer durations with greater accuracy. Additionally, the study will provide insight to identify particular error patterns, providing evidence that may help professional interpreters advocate for teaming interpreted assignments.
Brasel, B. 1976. The effects of fatigue on the competence of interpreters for the deaf. In H.J. Murphy (ed.), Selected Readings in the Integration of Deaf Students at C.S.U.N. Centre on Deafness series (#1). Northridge, CA: California State University.
Working professionals in the field of interpreting will gain comprehension of Brasel’s original research and how it has affected our field’s current expectations of best practices regarding the duration of interpreting segments within a teamed approach to interpreting. Additionally, audience members will learn about the presenter’s recent research regarding these topics.
Audience members will be able to apply practical knowledge regarding the recognition of symptoms of fatigue that appear within signed ASL target texts.
Audience members will attain strategies for problem solving regarding interpreting assignments in which teamed interpretation is not provided. These strategies will include suggestions for how to advocate for providing services through teamed interpretation as well as suggestions for how to reduce stress and enhance target-text integrity during solo interpreting conditions.
Information about the Presenter
Brian Cerney, Ph.D., CI, CT, ASLTA-Professional has been a nationally certified interpreter since 1991 and is currently an Associate Professor within the ASL - English Interpreting Program at Keuka College in New York. Dr. Cerney’s research interests include interpreting processes, human-cognitive responses to stress, and ASL/English/Interpreting pedagogy. He has presented on topics ranging from interpreters serving as language models in mainstream environments, teaching methodologies for ASL, and evaluation methodologies for target texts.