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Writing interpreters translate for the deaf using computers
The support of a script interpreter makes it easier for deaf students to follow lectures at the university. The translator types the lectures into a computer on a shorthand keyboard, making language visible. Today, Sunday, September 29th, is the day of the deaf.
Special shorthand keyboard The typeface interpreter Sandra Kanschat regularly sits in universities in northern Germany and listens to scientific lectures in biology, art or mathematics. She simultaneously types the lectures on the laptop using a special shorthand keyboard. The short-cut entries are converted into legible long characters by software and are visible on the monitor almost in real time. As a result, even a deaf student in the lecture hall can follow the lecture directly, explains the computer stenographer.
The deaf have the right to an interpreter According to the Deaf Association, around 80,000 deaf people live in Germany. 16 million Germans are considered hard of hearing. Since the sign language was recognized in the Social Security Code in 2001, the deaf have the right to commission interpreters for public issues relating to training, studies and work, at the doctor, the labor office, in court or in public authorities. Health insurance companies, employers, offices or pension insurers cover the costs.
Only a few sign language interpreters around the country work according to the Deaf Association, about 500 sign language interpreters, so those affected often have to wait weeks for communication help. The qualified office communication specialist, Sandra Kanschat, did not find a sign language course in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. So she completed a two-year training as a script interpreter.
400 syllables per minute Computer stenography has only been available in Germany for about ten years and has been adopted from the American one. In the meantime, perhaps a dozen German stenographers would work as simultaneous translators for the deaf. They include the 34-year-old Kanschat, who founded her interpreting service "Mitschrift" five years ago in Groß Trebbow near Schwerin. The double mother creates up to 400 syllables per minute with the Steno system. She explains that it is three to four times what you can type on a normal keyboard.
Many affected people do not speak sign language. The advantage of such a simultaneous transcript is obvious: unlike sign language, complicated facts or lectures could be literally transmitted and read immediately, and saved and printed out for later reading, revising and learning. Kanschat also explained that many people who lost their hearing as adults as a result of an accident or illness often did not speak sign language at all.
Politicians expressing themselves in a simple and understandable way The young company Kanschats has long ceased to be active solely at universities, but also at political and cultural events, company meetings of large companies, at court hearings, doctor visits and administrative procedures. According to Kanschat, it is not only the ability of the script interpreter to help the deaf person to grasp what has been said, but the speaker himself uses his own language to decide whether he will be heard by deaf people. "Exemplary speakers are Joachim Gauck and Angela Merkel," says Kanschat. "Both speak with perfect writing speed and correct sentence structure, they know how to express themselves in a simple and understandable way."
Day of the Deaf The Day of the Deaf, which was founded in 1951 by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), has also been celebrated in Germany since the mid-1970s, on the last Sunday in September. Regional associations use various campaigns and events to draw attention to the special situation of deaf people and to promote sign language. (ad)