A HELPING HAND FOR THE DEAF

good Guys Bobbi white, coordinator of interpreter services for Eastfield College, has spent 13 years learning that deaf people do the same things that people with hearing do. “They buy cars and homes, take karate classes, get married, attend plays, go through divorces,” White says. That means White and her staff of 12 field their share of “interesting” calls.

Like plays, for instance. “We signed The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and do you know how many times the word ’tallywacker’ comes up? It was kind of embarrassing, but we signed every mention,” she says. In fact, interpreters are required by a code of ethics to sign every word, no matter how blue. Another linguistic hurdle came when an unwitting interpreter was called to work a play that was mostly in Latin. “When this happens, there’s really nothing you can do except sign that a foreign language is being used and begin interpreting when they start using English again,” White says.

The most interesting requests, though, have been for assistance in class. White helped one deaf student earn an “A” in guitar class by using facial expressions along with hand signs to teach him how to correctly tune his guitar. Another interpreter went underwater to sign a scuba diving class. Still another sat through child-birthing classes and was called into the delivery room to sign to Mom when it was time to push, breathe deep, and relax. She even “handed” the deaf couple the news that they had just had a baby girl.

“Hey,” says White, “I’ve even spent two semesters in auto body class. I guess you could say I’ll go anywhere.”

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