A little over a week ago we brought you the story of Nic Zapko, the ASL interpreter you have seen at the state press conferences for months now.
So many of you reached out to us, and to Jana after, with a lot of follow up questions.
We got to work, and Jana met with Nic and her entire team of interpreters, to get some answers for you.
In this interview you will hear from Nic and her teammate Patty McCutcheon, who is a hearing ASL interpreter.
Jana: “The biggest question people have is, Nic, you are deaf so how does this work?”
Nic Zapko: “It's a common thought, people are saying are you reading lips from the Governor? Are you reading a prompter? I have my hearing team here with me. So, Patty hears the information from the Governor, and then she analyzes the message, what does it mean, she gives it to me (in ASL) and I deliver it to the community.”
Jana: “A lot of people want to know why are there two of you, what not just have Patty sign, why have Nic sign?”
Nic: “I think that's because it's my native language and it's my native culture. I have an understanding of this community. Patty has an understanding of English and the hearing community so we work together and we do a cultural exchange and our messages meet both what was said in English in the hearing community and then it translates to fit deaf culture and the deaf community.”
Patty (Nic’s ASL hearing Interpreter): “When I am interpreting to Nic and I see the work she delivers it's clear to me as a veteran interpreter with many years in this language I still can't do that. I have 40 years in the field but I still don't have the lived experience of being deaf.”
Jana: “Nic some have then asked, why doesn’t it work this way then, why not just have you read a teleprompter of what the speaker is saying and then you translate what you read to the deaf and hard of hearing audience in ASL?”
Nic: “That wouldn't be providing a full language access. I would just lose so much of the language, doing it live where I am seeing the tone and emotion and the point (from Patty), then I can provide it to the audience.”
Patty: "I'll just say that's one of the biggest things that deaf interpreters ask of their hearing team. Please keep me posted on whether the mood is changing, or the tone is changing.
Nic: “If they are getting angry or emphatic or pleading and emotional, tearful. I need that information because I can deliver that.”