Remote Area Medical
Thursday, February 6th, 2020
I had the privilege to interpret for Remote Area Medical (RAM). You may have noticed posts on our Facebook page about Remote Area Medical (RAM), well, I had the privilege to interpret for RAM on Saturday, February 1st. This blog post is to share how thankful I am for the members of the Deaf community welcoming me with open arms and allowing me to practice my skills at this event and now to share my experience via this blog.
I had never heard of RAM until I moved to Knoxville about a month ago. If you are also unfamiliar, RAM is a non-profit organization that utilizes clinics to provide free medical/dental/vision services to whoever needs it regardless of income level or insurance. This was a wonderful experience for myself and I believe it was very beneficial for the medical students who also volunteered and gained experience about how to appropriately interact with Deaf clients and interpreters. In addition, I was able to enhance my schema for future interpreting assignments. I noticed that many of the young professionals were comfortable working with deaf patients and were willing to provide equal access!
I spent my day working in vision services area which was brand new to me from a professional standpoint. The optometrists used a piece of equipment called a phoropter, which is the bulky machine that the doctor puts in front of the patient’s eyes and uses to change the lenses to figure out the best prescription for the patient. However, I experienced working with an optician that preferred the old fashioned way of doing things while still achieving the same goal. He used something called a trial frame and lenses. I noticed that this method is more deaf-friendly than the modern-age phoropter because there is a break between changing each lens which allows time for the interpreter to inform the client of what the optometrist is saying. With the modern phoropter, the doctor’s switch between the two lenses without allowing adequate time for the client to know which option is better. You know how this goes, “better 1, better 2, better 1, better 2”. A doctor’s prior experience working with a deaf patient changes the entire dynamic! Instead of the patient taking his/her face out from behind the phoropter to look at the interpreter, the optometrist held fingers up after changing the lenses. After working with RAM I now know how valuable doing things the old fashion way provides a far better experience for the deaf client.
Not only did I gain experience with RAM to work in medical settings, I was also able to feel comfortable working with this type of equipment which I had never experienced as an interpreter. I gained a valuable skill while working with RAM as well as knowledge about how to work with different doctors and their preferred methods. This experience will better help me handle situations that may not be the easiest setting to interpret in while still advocating for myself, as the interpreter, to ensure I am where I need to be so I can do my job effectively.