SPOTLIGHT ON: The DHH Program
Hello everyone! I’m taking a break on the 10 Signs of the Month for this Westlake feature! This time, I’ll be bringing back Ms. Dana Snyder and Ms. Emma Fitzhugh for some interviewing! Many of you know that Westlake has a DHH (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) program, and I decided to dig deeper into that! I will be interviewing Ms. Snyder about the DHH program, and Ms. Fitzhugh about her personal experiences with interpreting!
Questions for Ms. Snyder:
Q: How many current Westlake students are DHH?
A: We have 23 students at Westlake who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing this year.
Q: How long has Westlake had a DHH program?
A: The Deaf and Hard of Hearing program has been here for over ten years.
Q: How many interpreters does Westlake have?
A: There are currently 7 sign language interpreters working at Westlake.
Q: How many DHH teachers does Westlake have?
A: There is one full-time Teacher of the Deaf (me) and one half-time teacher of the Deaf (Mrs. Sam Locricchio).
Questions for Ms. Fitzhugh:
Q: Why did you start interpreting?
A: I suppose it depends on how you look at it. I say that because I enrolled in an undergraduate, four-year Bachelor of Arts in Interpretation program in Fall 2016 and graduated in May 2020. I had an unpaid educational interpreting internship from January-March 2020, but my first paid interpreting job began in October 2020. So, if you count unpaid interpreting as interpreting, I would say I began in 2019, but paid to interpret I would say 2020.
Q: Why did you want to be an interpreter?
A: I wanted to be an interpreter because I enjoy being a part of a group of people that make accessibility happen. I love the constant challenge, learning, growth, and questioning that comes with interpreting. I love how everyone has different perspectives and reasons to support their decision-making. There are millions of Deaf/HOH people in the world, and if the only potential barrier is an inability to consistently and efficiently communicate with another person, and I have the means to speak, hear, and sign, I want to be a part of that process.
Q: What was your favorite moment to interpret so far?
A: Oh gosh, my favorite moment to interpret so far. There have been so many. I would say one of my favorite moments to interpret was when I was able to interpret a parent-teacher conference for a Deaf parent at a very elite school. I enjoyed the intimacy of the moment, the trust that the consumers had in me and my abilities, and the faith that my mentor had in my abilities as a new interpreter.
Q: What is one funny interpreting moment in your career?
A: One funny interpreting moment in my career is a moment I experienced just a couple of weeks ago, alongside another interpreter. The class was playing a game, but a small group of students didn’t know what the game was. The interpreter and I laughed so hard because one of our students had no idea what was going on, and we couldn’t exactly tell this student because that would ruin the game. The game was sound and visual-based. The student at one point just started clapping because they were so lost and just trying to use context clues to figure out what the heck the game was all about.
Q: What was the hardest moment to interpret so far?
A: Hm, that’s a great and difficult question. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of difficult moments that I will interpret in the future. I would say, for now, one of the hardest moments to interpret was one of my very first interpreting experiences. I was so nervous and wanted to do so well in front of my professors. I had to interpret curse words and expletives between ASL and English. It was an impromptu interpreting practice and I was so overwhelmed and nervous that I cried afterward. The situation was completely staged, so no one was hurt or denied access.
So, that’s that for you! I would like to thank Ms. Snyder and Ms. Fitzhugh for sharing this information with us, and you for reading this article!