Why signing is important to deaf CAD designer, Ian Ray

Ian Ray is a key member of Tonkin + Taylor’s Design Services team – he is a senior engineering CAD designer (AKA “draughtsman”). Ian is deaf. He wants you to understand why sign language interpreters are so important to him and the deaf community, especially in times of crisis.

What New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreting means to me:

"It means that I can understand what is being said in real time.  Lipreading is hard work, and we only manage to lipread maybe 40%, and guess the rest. Accents make it even harder, especially if you aren’t used to lipreading people with an accent.  Lipreading is also very tiring, especially if you are lipreading different people over a long period.

NZSL interpreting makes it easier for us to follow what is being spoken about – when information is signed to us, we get 100% of it. It is a vital service for the deaf community because the average literacy age is 9-12 years, meaning captions are not always that easy for some people to read. But the majority of deaf people are intelligent and understand the concept of everything – especially when it’s signed.

Video-conferencing is another area where NZSL interpreters are invaluable, as there may be several speakers and keeping track of who is speaking is difficult, to say the least. This way I can watch just one screen with the interpreter facing me, and she/he is telling me who is speaking, then the content of their conversation. This is where it would be great if people could pause before another person starts speaking, and it would be good if they didn’t speak over each other.

Having the news/information interpreted to us is vital when it is an emergency, like the COVID-19 pandemic for example. It doesn’t help when people mock the interpreters or say they’re not necessary – it is NECESSARY for deaf people, and we rely on them heavily.  

Interpreters are also professionally trained – they do a three year bachelor degree course before they qualify and are allowed to interpret. They can cover anything including educational, legal and healthcare interpreting, no matter how complicated it gets.   

Finally we want sign language interpreters to feel comfortable in their role– they also are people themselves, whose feelings would be hurt if they are ridiculed or mocked. So please, for them, and those of us who are deaf – be kind” – Ian Ray – senior CAD designer.