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Interviewing a deaf person

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Smallpotatoes, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    Yes, I did this about 20 years ago.

    A kid shows up at the guard desk of our newspaper and wanted to see somebody. They tell me and I go get him. He is an area kid but goes to a school for the deaf about 60 miles away. I figure out that he was the first player at the school to score 1,000 points. I ask an editor if it's worth a story, and he says go with it.

    The kid comes up, and I start typing questions on a computer and he answers... we even passed a couple of jokes back and forth. I call the kid's coach, who is hearing, and get some more information. It worked out to be a pretty good story.

    And with everything in writing, there was no way anybody could say I misquoted him.
  2. Gillette237

    Gillette237 Member

    I've had to interview a deaf person twice, and both times it went well. The first guy read lips and wrote answers to my questions. The second time, his girlfriend acted as a sign language interpeter. Each took a little longer than usual, but they were worth the extra time.
  3. AgatePage

    AgatePage Active Member

    i think you treat it like any other language. Try to learn a little, and rely on your instincts and your interpreter.

    I took a little crash course to say hello, my name is ... how are you doing ... etc., the basic stuff. Her father was her interpreter that day for us. She was surprised I knew any sign language at all, so things went well right off the bat.

    The girl was a good interview, very funny. At one point, she said she talked to her friends (who were not deaf) all the time and I bit.

    Dumb reporter: "How can you talk to your friends?"

    Funny Deaf Girl: "Ever heard of AOL?"

    grumble, grumble ... stupid reporter.
  4. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    One of the cooler stories I've done in my life was about a kid in seventh-grade who went to a normal middle school and played basketball and football with the help of his interpreter. The interpreter was a must, because the kid - as his dad said - couldn't hear a 747 flying 100 feet above his head. It wound up being a good story, touching on how sports helped him assimilate into a mainstream school, the relationship between him and the interpreter, who was at every game and practice. I was lucky in that the interpreter was a critical part of the story too.

    The interpreter was a good way to go in my lone experience. My only concern about IM or e-mail would be if the person didn't have particularly good grammar (unless our poor grammar, generally speaking, is more a product of lazy speech).
  5. cougargirl

    cougargirl Active Member

    Another thing to keep in mind if you're doing a face-to-face interview with a deaf person - address the person, don't address the questions to the interpreter. The interpreter solely acts as a conduit.
  6. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    Would that rule also apply to interviews with people who speak any language you don't speak?
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