Published: 16 June 2023

An Interview with Iona

An Interview with Iona

What is your deaf family background? 

I grew up with a profoundly Deaf mother and brother, as well as grandparents and many family/friends on my mother's side. BSL was my first language and one I used in everyday life at home.

What BSL training and qualifications did you have before you joined the IDPHS course, if any?

None whatsoever! I tried to do my Level 6 when I was in my late teens, but I wasn't ready for it at the time so never finished. As many CODAs do, I drifted from the Deaf community in my teenage years, and hadn't realised I wanted to become an interpreter until I was travelling aged 22!

Why did you choose the IDPHS pathway over the traditional route to becoming an interpreter?

I realised in 2017 I wanted to become an interpreter and knew some of the options out there, but I didn't know where exactly I wanted to go and train. My mum told me right after lockdown that a course had been set up, purely for heritage signers and after looking into it some more, it just felt right. One of the best decisions I've ever made and it has truly changed my life.

What do you feel were the benefits of the IDPHS course?

Moving at similar paces to the rest of the group, having shared life experiences that no one else seemed to be able to really, fully relate to. Complete support from my peers and feeling an equal throughout the course. A fantastic course leader, with an equally brilliant group of Deaf teachers and other interpreter trainers throughout - all wanting the best for us.

What was learning with other heritage signers like?

On the first day, meeting the rest of the group was overwhelming, albeit amazing. We had an instant connection and for the first time in my life I felt validated in many ways, with us all being able to share similar life experiences growing up as hearing children in the Deaf community. With certain behaviours we all exhibited that were similar to one another, likely relevant to our backgrounds - it was pretty amazing.
Throughout the course, we have all been rooting for each other, wanting the best for one another and to see everyone succeed. A true support network and friends for life.

What’s next for you in your interpreting career?

I'm waiting on my results, but from then on, I just want to get myself out there in the community! I've fallen in love with this work in so many ways, you're constantly learning and having different experiences every day. I've always thought I would love to get into mental health interpreting in the future, when I'm experienced enough to head down that route.

What advice would you give to other heritage signers thinking about becoming a BSL interpreter?

I'd say, if this is something you want to do and are committed to taking it seriously, go for it!! When I joined, a lot of my hearing friends who weren't brought up in the community said things like 'oh well, you're fluent, you'll be able to interpret easily!' Don't be fooled, it will be full of challenges along the way, with lots of new information to learn, habits to unlearn and things you'd probably forgotten about to re-learn! Thrive and push yourself to do your best possible and it will be so worth the journey.

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