An anonymous article in the Guardian newspaper has revealed how a sign language interpreter feels during the current economic climate, when cuts are affecting the kind of support Deaf people can receive, and changes to how interpreting is funded has led to chaos during court cases.
I’m really sorry, but we have done all we can.” I slowly pick my hands up to tell the 19-year-old eastern European girl in front of me that she is going to have to wipe her eyes and walk back out of the council offices, homeless, hungry and at risk.
The council officer to my left is wearing the same steely, but resigned look that I have seen on the face of every council officer I meet. I tell the deaf client, in sign language, that the appointment is over and watch her face fall. No matter how many times I do this – and it has been hundreds – it still hurts knowing that I am the person to tell them there is no hope left.
When it is over, I smile at the deaf person, who thanks me profusely for doing my job. She tells me that even though the council couldn’t help her get a flat, at least they provided an interpreter for the meeting – that wouldn’t have happened in her own country.
Despite the heavy heart I carry after these assignments, I love my job. I moved into the role quite unexpectedly after meeting a group of deaf children at an event and, after learning the basics, found that I had a real aptitude for sign language. Ten years later, I was able to qualify and started working on a freelance basis.
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