When I met Ms. Tang at a coffee shop in Jing'an Temple, she had just finished a sign language training class, wearing a black short-sleeved blouse and her hair tied into a high ponytail. It is her professional habit to wear dark clothes at work, because it takes sign language so that deaf people can see their gestures clearly.
23 September is International Sign Language Day. Bilibili's first career observation short documentary "What are you busy today?" produced by Bilibili? Broadcast on September 20, "Post-80s" Shanghainese Tang Wenyan is one of the protagonists in the film, as a full-time sign language interpreter, she has been working for nearly 10 years. To accompany her to the hospital and interpret for musicals, the significance of the profession is that "deaf people deserve a better life."
Every translator is a "meme"
As soon as Tang Wenyan spoke, her eyes would widen, accompanied by rich body language, often making people laugh. This is also an "occupational disease". Sign language is not only gestural expression, but also expresses emotions in language through facial expressions and the priority of movements. Once, a deaf friend sent her a photo and praised her for her "very good expression"; When she looked at it, she found that Zhang Zhang was all "emojis". "I'm actually an 'i person' (an internet term derived from the i in the MBTI personality test, which refers to a more introverted and introverted person)." "But every interpreter is hideous-faced, and sign language can't be without expression." ”
Tang Wenyan at work
Embarked on the path of sign language interpretation out of all interest. Tang Wenyan majored in psychology in the Department of Special Education of East China Normal University as an undergraduate, and when she saw that Shanghai Oriental International Sign Language Education School was recruiting students, she signed up. "In the process of learning sign language, I met many deaf friends and found that they have encountered different degrees of communication barriers in social life, and they deserve a better life."
In 2010, Tang Wenyan graduated with a master's degree and wanted to find a job as a sign language interpreter, but found that even translation companies did not recruit sign language interpreters. Until 2012, a teacher at the Deaf Association told her that a hotpot restaurant and a start-up making hearing aids were looking for a sign language interpreter. She gave up her stable job and persuaded her parents to become the first employee of the hearing aid company.
The company's founder, Richard Lytel, was a professor at Galaudet University, the only university in the world with undergraduate, master's and doctoral programs dedicated to the hearing impaired and hard of hearing. "He had a great idea of improving the lives of deaf people in China, but then we found that the hearing aid market was highly competitive and it was difficult for small brands to survive, so in 2014 he began to try to transform and see if he could survive by doing sign language interpretation."
Tang Wenyan interprets sign language at the exhibition
According to data from the Shanghai Association for the Deaf, there are more than 80,000 people with hearing and speech disabilities in Shanghai. In Tang Wenyan's words, she will participate in the life of a deaf person. From the birth of a deaf mother to the schooling of her child, graduation interviews, internal training, going to the hospital to see a doctor, getting married and drinking alcohol, etc., every stage of life needs a sign language interpreter, and "every day of translation is new."
How hard is it for a deaf person to get into theater?
For a long time, Tang Wenyan was the only full-time sign language interpreter in Shanghai. Since there are not many listeners (referring to people with normal hearing) who specialize in sign language interpretation, she goes almost wherever there is a need. Open your phone schedule, Monday is full, Tuesday needs to be at work at 4:30 a.m., and three days a week to go to the TV station to do sign language interpretation for several news programs at noon and evening. But in Tang Wenyan's circle of friends, you can rarely see her work scene, and a few pieces of relevant information are all promoting anti-fraud knowledge to deaf friends. "The privacy of deaf people is the number one priority," she explains.
Dongfang Hospital is the first hospital in Shanghai to open a "deaf clinic", and whenever the outpatient clinic is opened, you can always see many deaf partners who come to the clinic. Tang Wenyan remembers that one year she accompanied a deaf aunt to see a doctor, and came out to find her daughter crying on the side, "She was not worried about her mother's illness, but it was particularly difficult to see a doctor before, young people have jobs, they can't always ask for leave, and the aunt is not willing to trouble the family, but it is particularly inconvenient to have no one to accompany her to see a doctor." It's a normal job for us, but it can be an important moment for deaf people. ”
Sign language interpreter Tang Wenyan
In Tang Wenyan's eyes, sign language, like Chinese and English, is a language of communication; Deaf people, like hearing people, have a rich spiritual world, interesting personalities, and diverse hobbies, but because of hearing impairment, they cannot enter various social fields without obstacles.
"Ask deaf friends what leisure activities do they have? Young people like to run and watch exhibitions, but usually visual exhibitions, or appointments for dinner and travel, and last time a friend said that he liked to play "Glory of Kings". She lamented that for deaf people, going to the theater to watch performances and musicals is almost a difficult experience to have; Interpreting sign language for musicals was one of the most interesting experiences of her career.
In 2018, under the lead of deaf director Zheng Xiaosan, the musical "Queen of Boots" ushered in a special sign language session, and Tang Wenyan was one of the sign language interpreters, which was her first contact with sign language interpretation work in musicals. Due to his lack of experience, Zheng Xiaosan invited a British sign language interpreter team to train everyone remotely, and prepared for 3 months from dismantling the script, familiarizing himself with the lines to formal rehearsals.
"Like actors, we also have to read the script, memorize the script, carry out psychological speculation of the characters, and use what emotions, tones, expressions, strength, and frequency to express." The most challenging part, Ms. Tang says, was that she worked with her deaf friends to complete the sign language interpretation for the musical. "The Queen of Boots allows a teleprompter, we put a tablet offstage, and when the two of us cooperate, I 'feed' him the speed of speech, and when the show starts singing, I beat the beat on him and give him tips on the rhythm."
After the first performance, there are deaf friends who can't wait to ask when there will be a second performance. However, there are not many such opportunities. In the past 10 years, Tang Wenyan has had less than ten opportunities to interpret sign language for theater performances. In addition to "The Queen of Boots", there is also the stage play "Frankenstein" and the recent performance of the original drama "Where is the nearest barrier-free toilet?" performed at the Shanghai Grand Theatre. 》。 "There is still a long way to go for deaf people to enter the theater without barriers."
So that deaf people can walk without barriers in society
Determined to engage in the industry of sign language interpretation, Tang Wenyan once "argued" with her parents for a long time. Like many parents in Shanghai, her parents expect her to have a leisurely, stable job. "Why are young people so idle?" She asked rhetorically.
Sign language interpreter is not a well-paying job. "The disabled federation has a standard, the fee for half a day is 300 yuan, and the fee is 600 yuan a day." Tang Wenyan revealed that the salary of sign language interpreters is difficult to compete with other types of interpreters, and there is no particular source of income, usually depending on the needs of the deaf community. "The deaf community is not a particularly wealthy group, there is no strong willingness to consume, and in terms of business operations, more multinational companies are more willing to buy this service." So there are still big problems with the survival of sign language interpreters. But she feels that she can persevere because there are indeed many urgent needs in this group, "such as lawsuits, calling the police, seeing a doctor, starting a business, talking about projects, barrier-free services, etc., these needs are objective, just a question of who will pay." ”
Tang Wenyan at work
Learning sign language itself also made her a lot of fun. Sign language also has dialects, and the expression varies greatly in different regions, such as the south and the north, and when expressing the word "story", the hand shape and direction are different. "It's a young language, there were no videos before, and a lot of information couldn't be kept, but now it's different."
In the past month, Tang Wenyan has only rested for two or three days. In her opinion, as a sign language interpreter, her physical strength is good, and she stood for 7 hours at a time.
When she is not working, she looks different. It was like opening her closet, half of it was black and navy blue, and the other half was all flowery green. She also enrolled in the Shanghai Citizen Art Night School to learn about face molding, looking forward to achieving success in a few months.
"Sign language interpreters don't have to live like ascetics, I expect it to become a standardized profession so that young people can be attracted to employment, and sign language interpreters also have professional norms, which are regulated in terms of translation content and professional ethics." In the future she envisions, deaf people can walk without barriers in society and become experts in various fields, and "sign language itself will become richer." ”
"How big and how big we can be, how long we can do it." Tang Wenyan expects that in society, people can spend a few months mastering some simple sign language, "such as hello, thank you, etc., which is a friendly expression for deaf people." ”
Editor-in-chief: Shi Chenlu Image source: Courtesy of Bilibili
Source: Author: Zhang Yi