I have noticed in recent months the increased use of CDI’s (Certified Deaf Interpreters) out in the field. Perhaps, and quite unfortunately, due to the recent increase in tragic events and natural disasters around our nation, CDI’s have become more visible within the profession. These dire types of situations have an impact on us as a human race as a whole. The need for clear and effective transmission of information in these situations can literally mean life or death for the individuals involved. These situations require the clearest means of communication available to all – including communication to and from the Deaf community.
I have found that many do not understand the reasoning behind using a CDI so I thought this would be a good forum to give an overall view of the why, where, when, and how to use a CDI.
What is a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI)?
I visited the national RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf) website to get a clear definition of a CDI. This is what I found:
“Holders of this certification are deaf or hard of hearing and have demonstrated knowledge and understanding of interpreting, deafness, the Deaf community, and Deaf culture. Holders have specialized training and/or experience in the use of gesture, mime, props, drawings and other tools to enhance communication. Holders possess native or near-native fluency in American Sign Language and are recommended for a broad range of assignments where an interpreter who is deaf or hard-of-hearing would be beneficial. This credential has been available since 1998.“ (RID Website, www.rid.org)
How does this all work, you may ask? It’s simple – a CDI will work as a team along with a certified hearing interpreter to promote the most effective, clearest communication possible. The CDI interprets the message from the deaf consumer to the hearing interpreter and the hearing interpreter then relays the message to the hearing consumer.
When is a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) necessary?
While a qualified hearing interpreter may be adequate in many situations, there are certain situations which call for the use of a CDI. Some examples of situations in which a CDI should be called upon are:
- Deaf consumer uses non-standard signs that often originate from their family; often called “home-signs”
- Deaf consumer uses atypical signs from a particular region, culture, ethnic group or age group
- Deaf consumer has minimal language skills – little or no ASL or written language skills
- Deaf consumer uses a foreign sign language (nope! Sign language is NOT the same in other countries!)
- Deaf consumer is Deaf-blind or has limited vision
- Deaf consumer has communication traits that are unfamiliar to a hearing interpreter
Think about it – American Sign Language is NOT the first language of the majority of hearing interpreters. Unless a hearing interpreter was raised in a signing household (as a CODA, a Child of Deaf Adults), ASL is NOT going to be their native language. No matter how fluent a hearing interpreter may be in ASL, they are always going to hold English (or some other spoken language) as their native language. CDI’s are able to provide interpretation to the deaf consumer in their native language and may also have a better understanding of what the deaf consumer is communicating. Another benefit – if there is any confusion, the CDI and hearing interpret can always work together as a team to further clarify the message and ensure effective communication is achieved.
Overall, including a CDI as part of the interpreting team enhances the experience for the consumers involve (both deaf and hearing), improves the interpreting service as a whole, and provides for the optimal effectiveness of communication – which is ultimately the overall goal!
Alliance Business Solutions is committed to leveling the playing field by providing equal access to communication for the Deaf Community in all aspects of their lives. Please feel free to contact us with any feedback on our ASL interpreters and/or our services in general.