As an interpreter, I’ve worked with people and organizations different from me. At times, I’ve personally agreed with little that I was signing and saying. I’ve kept a straight face, and kept my views hidden. I was there to ensure communication access; their views are not my views. At times I cried after leaving, feeling torn between my personal convictions, the messages that I was carrying, and the commitment I made to impartiality. As the one person in those settings with linguistic privilege, it’s the interpreter’s duty to set aside personal beliefs to make way for deaf* and hearing consumers’ beliefs.
The laws recently passed in Indiana and Arkansas in the name of “Religious Freedom” willfully ignore the noblesse oblige of those in power, those with financial privilege running businesses. The parallels between the interpreter’s experience and that of businesses dealing with the public are easy to see. A business cannot refuse service to someone based on religious beliefs and a state shouldn’t enact legislation to allow them to. Period.
If you serve one, you serve all.
Image: Tara Hunt