Interpreter Lockdown Stories #6

Hello Colleagues, 

Where to start with our experience of working (or not) during the Covid lockdowns?  At the beginning…

When we went into the first lockdown in March 2020, one of us had just returned from a holiday in New Zealand and had smiled at people on all the flights and at airports for wearing facemasks.  Little did we know that this was going to be the norm for the rest of the year! 

So as Lipspeakers for about 20 years and 4 years respectively, our freelance work would take us all over the UK and if we were lucky, into Europe.  We loved the travel, seeing new places, staying in hotels, meeting new people and all the challenges that came with it. 

Then suddenly overnight our ‘work life’ totally changed.  No longer were we travelling, no longer staying away from home several nights a week, and no longer able to visit family in-between work bookings. All court cases were postponed and we were left wondering how long this would last and like everyone, it was an anxious time.  It still is! 

This is when our re-education started!  As technology dinosaurs, we had never used Zoom or Teams, or had any idea how to use them, or where to turn for help and support. Luckily, membership of two professional bodies held some webinars to train us, and the bonus was we got CPD points as well.  So then we started with remote working.  

Yes we had a few mishaps – battery suddenly running out, connections lost, accidentally coming out of the call – but all were overcome with patience and apologies.  We took part (and indeed still do) in HMCTS webinars and any online-training suitable for us as Lipspeakers.  We have found that people have been so patient and in turn, so have we. 

Before lockdown we mainly worked in the legal domain and even now work certainly is not back to 4-5 days a week but it looks promising with next year certainly being more “normal” with court work. 

Early on court cases took place in our sitting rooms rather than face to face and this was a whole new education.  We had to adapt how we work “in court” and this meant reactions were far less instant and far trickier to read the clients face for cues etc.  It has been a huge learning curve in this domain in particular.  Not to mention the YouTube videos on how to collapse a pop-up screen!

The first few times working in the legal domain were strange with not all professionals being in the actual court room – it seems less formal somehow, but our professionalism and code of conduct remains the same whether we be virtual or not. 

However the bonuses are, as others have said, less travel, less car running expenses, becoming more up-to-date with technology and being confident to use it, more time at home even though the housework is still not always done! 

We do take part in regular zoom calls with other professionals and support each other with tips, news, along with mentoring and buddying.  We have probably attended more webinars than ever with so many skills learned and knowledge enriched. 

We have tried numerous face masks with varying results and we have all got used to wearing them.  We have given support to those clients who feel even more isolated than before and frustrated with not being able to have access to communication.  We feel honoured that we can provide that and that they also get to see a smile!  We still buy our lipsticks, but also hand sanitisers, antibacterial wet wipes etc. 

As we get closer to Christmas, we wonder what the next 6 months will look like, will there ever be a return to previous face to face bookings or will remote work be the ‘norm’? 

For now;  we miss having the opportunity to co-work in person as freely and frequently as we did.  We miss being able to provide full access to face to face.  Whatever the future brings – we hope to spend far less time behind a screen whilst of course keeping safe. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this and we wish you all Seasons Greetings and hope that 2021 is kind to you.   

What is a Lipspeaker?

  • A Lipspeaker is a hearing person who has been professionally trained to be easy to lip-read. We will accurately repeat the spoken message with or without our voice.
  • You can ask for us to use our own voice while lipspeaking, this is if you would like to benefit from any residual hearing.
  • We will reproduce the rhythm, tone and flow used by the speaker, supporting their meaning with gesture and facial expression.
  • We will make sure we allow plenty of time to talk you beforehand to ask if you would like us to use fingerspelling or have any other requirements and generally get used to our lip pattern etc.
  • If you use some sign language – this can be used alongside lipspeaking if you feel this would benefit you.
  • For bookings that are 2 hours or longer, two Lipspeakers would be required to co-work.
Lip Speakers

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