"Hello? No, sorry he can't come to the phone. Yes he's here, but you can't talk to him. Well, because he's Deaf. No, no... he's very much alive.. Deaf means he can't hear you. Do you want me to tell him something??" Before the launch of video relay service(VRS) I answered calls in this manner every week for several years. I had no idea that each one of these calls served as a foreshadowing to my adult career.
I've been working professionally as a Video Interpreter for more than 3 years now, but it was a skill I acquired growing up with my Dad. Some may call this child abuse, but I prefer referring to this as free on the job training. At 13 years of age I was completing a job function that now requires state/or national certification along with 20+ hours of training. If only we had headsets back then, instead of trying to balance a cordless phone on my shoulder to make both hands available to sign!
Let me be very blunt about this, while it is a great memory to look back on... I was ecstatic when interpreters starting showing up on our basement television and my father stopped needing another family member to place his personal phone calls. There were many failed attempts at trying to recruit the other 3 CODAs in the house. I would like to think I was the chosen one due to my skill, but the honest truth is my inability to say "no." This is something that plagues me to this day. In many cases it can also be a blessing, and getting experience as a young interpreter is one to be considered such.
With all the conversation that can be had over political debate of individual providers, I for one am very thankful for the on-set of the industry. Not only for the accommodation it provides for thousands of people like my father, but also the career it has provided for me and many others. While I wasn't fond of placing pre-VRS relay calls in my basement, I happy true work now since.. wait - Interpreter clarification "I really do enjoy my job nowadays."