I found myself signing for an online plumbing theory exam. A mature student I had been working with was entitled to a Sign Language Interpreter and a Reader. We had agreed I would read every question as the English was typically a sticking point. The plumber- to- be had already sat an end of module assessment and he got so absorbed that he didn’t ask for any help.
This module was entitled The Joys of the Central Heating System (well, sort of!)
In one room there was: One Invigilator and 2 CSW’s to one Deaf student.
I had an Invigilator who wanted to read the questions for me as I signed them (I declined). So then she said if she couldn’t do that …. then please could I voice out loud the questions live as I signed! What? and compromise my translation into BSL.
All throughout the year we have been creating technical signs together, painting a picture of wires, pipes, valves, coils…..and keeping this flowing week after week.
Now faced with exam conditions I find myself under great scrutiny.
Suddenly I have to remember to point to or finger spell those words that have become part of my signing vocabulary, they have become familiar and flowed naturally into communication. Into the bargain I have two members of staff literally looking over my shoulder.
One question asked something about existing pipes, I’d signed pipes already there. The student would not know or ever likely to use the word existing.
My role is to present the questions in a different language without changing the meaning, providing any additional information or providing an explanation. Did my translation fall under any of these?
I had to keep my cool and present a calm exterior when really I was anything but.
After the exam, the Invigilator was very interested in chatting about Sign Language and all its implications. The student however was not and just wanted his percentage, then out….. and so did I.
Thankfully the candidate passed this module, hopefully without any advantage or unfair treatment from me. It made me wonder if there would be any leeway for:
I’m only human and I’m trying my best !