Deafness: Listening in the Classroom Through the Hands of Interpreters

Deafness: Listening in the Classroom Through the Hands of Interpreters

Gone are the days when deaf students were grouped together in institutes or special classes. Today, these children are completely integrated into regular classes, to the delight of LilyRose Drolet, who is deaf from birth.

If LilyRose Drolet can learn like all her friends in its class is partly thanks to its interpreter Catherine Rouillard. His hands translate everything that happens in class.

Catherine Rouillard is the interpreter of LilyRose, who is deaf from birth. She is the one who, with her hands, translates everything the teacher explains and tells her.

LilyRose Drolet has fun at recess like everyone else the other children. In physical education class, she runs, she climbs. It is only in the classroom that a difference appears. Under her blond hair are two small cochlear implants that allow her to pick up certain speech sounds, but without Catherine, her learning would be much more difficult.

Indeed, the time when deaf or hard of hearing people were grouped together in institutes or in special classes is over. Today, students with such a disability are integrated into mainstream classes. These children who were in institute, as we had in the past, often plateaued. They became illiterate by force of circumstance. Over the years, they stagnated in reading and writing, explains Marie-Claude Bruneau, hearing loss resource person at the Center de services scolaire de la Région-de-Sherbrooke (CSSRS).

“Today, we have students doing medicine, professional courses. There are almost no limits when only deafness is at stake.”

— Marie-Claude Bruneau, hearing loss resource person at the CSSRS

LilyRose has ambitions. She loves to read. Later, letters and words will be part of his professional universe. I would like to be someone who works in the municipal library because in my tasks I could take books and read them. This is what tempts me the most. I really like scary books, she says candidly.

In total, at the CSSRS, nine other people are changing the lives of children who cannot hear properly.

With all the gentleness and all the patience in the world, Catherine Rouillard explains to LilyRose, day after day, the differences between whole and natural numbers or how to make the agreement of past participles conjugated with the auxiliary be . It translates everything, everything, everything. Be it peers, teachers, movies, songs, whatever. It is also to support the student in his autonomy, in his social dimension, in his learning. It's watching the student grow through it all, says Ms. Rouillard, who has been an interpreter for the deaf for 23 years.

These signs completely change the situation for LilyRose at key times. It helps me better understand if the teacher is from behind or if a student is talking, she says.

Catherine's translation is done simultaneously because it is out of the question for the teacher to stop her explanations on the board. And downtime is pretty rare. We are always analyzing, interpreting, the brain is working. One must be alert even when students are working and a question is being asked. LilyRose wants to know what happens when it reacts. Always be ready to interpret. So, we can't be in the moon.

The interpreter of LilyRose, Catherine Rouillard, does not have time to twiddle her thumbs at work: every word spoken by the teacher must be translated.

Not to mention that these interpreters must know the signs of several types of languages. Each student has their own way of communicating. Yes, there is Quebec Sign Language [LSQ] and often that is what we associate with students who are deaf. There are students who are oralists [lip reading accompanied by natural gestures]. It could be pidgin, which is the sign language of Quebec based on the structure of French. It depends on the child. You have to master all that, argues Catherine Rouillard.

For example, if the interpreter wants to say “I eat an apple”, in LSQ, she will sign “me – eat – apple”. If she chooses to say it in pidgin, she'll sign “I – eat – an – apple”. We do this a lot at school for learning to read and write. The student must manage to write his sentences with a good structure, because he follows the same program as everyone else and has the same evaluations as everyone else, she underlines .

“It's like glasses for kids. We prevent all the little breakdowns in communication and we make it clearer for them. »

— Catherine Rouillard, performer

One ​​thing is certain: Catherine and LilyRose are a great team motivated to succeed.

LilyRose's interpreter follows her everywhere, everywhere, even in physical education!

< em>With information from Guylaine Charette