Every year on September 30, we celebrate interpreters and translators during International Translation Day, thanking them for their amazing contributions in bringing the world together, providing language access and literally saving lives.
But did you know that there is one more celebration of our colleagues, mainly Sign Language Interpreters, and it happens on the first Wednesday in May? National Interpreter Appreciation Day was established by deaf interior designer Joshua Jones in 2013 as a Facebook group. It has since grown into a widely recognized holiday, and we at LEO celebrate it by giving a shout out and a platform to the great language industry heroes, sign language interpreters. We truly believe they should be celebrated and appreciated every day, so here below you will find six ways to show appreciation to your favorite sign language interpreters.
1: Educate your acquaintances, household, and policymakers about sign language interpreters
Whether you write a letter to policymakers or emphasize to your family and friends that you succeeded in your career thanks to an interpreter, you broaden their horizons and advocate for the profession.
2: A small gift, flowers, or a thank you card
CafePress has ideas ranging from onesies (“ASL is music to my eyes“) to home décor items, stationery and more. Use your best judgment and remember that less is often more in terms of small gifts for professionals.
“I think every interpreting agency should give their interpreters gift cards for coffee shops or gas, because they use it all the time to get through their days,” said Joshua Jones. He also suggests that deaf/HH students write thank you cards, bring flowers, or post personal vlogs on social media to show interpreter friends their appreciation.
3: Harness the power of social media
“I think it would be a cool idea perhaps to try to convince people in the Deaf/Interpreting community to change their profile pictures [on the National Interpreter Appreciation Day] maybe to the “I love you” handshape or to the interpreter sign much like people do in support of LGBT rights, for example,” said Dustin Pelloni, a CODA and long-time interpreter.
4: Reminisce about interpreters who got you through tough times
When your child was born, was a hospital interpreter by your side during labor? This would be a great time to thank that interpreter for his/her support. Did you have a skilled classroom interpreter who did an excellent job with difficult technical subject matter? Shout out to them that you survived!
“Shucks – I was just doing my job”, your interpreter will probably reply modestly. But a job well done is a job deserving praise nevertheless.
5: Educate others about interpreters associated with well-known events/people
Aside from Lydia Callis, other interpreters of the rich and/or famous can help draw awareness to the field. For example, Jack Jason, Oscar winner Marlee Matlin’s long-term interpreter, business partner, and… shopping advisor:
“Little did I know that my first-day assignment for Marlee wouldn’t be as her interpreter, but to accompany her shopping. She was 19 and was brand new to New York and I was her guide.”
To this day, Jason says: “All I have to say is that I have the coolest job I could ever imagine.”
Now, wouldn’t that be an example of a cool tidbit to share on your social media or in a casual conversation?
6: Don’t Forget the Other 364 Days of the Year
For Ryan Schlecht, deaf Seattle local, appreciation is a year-round exercise. “I always tell my ASL interpreters ‘Thank you’ as much as I can at every opportunity,” the deaf Seattle local said on the Official Interpreter Appreciation Day page. “I’m fortunate to have them. They rock!”
Exactly. It’s never the wrong day to appreciate your interpreter. 🤟
This blog quotes with permission excerpts from an article published on deaffriendly.com