ASLO Deaf Culture Series guest got her start from a college argument

The American Sign Language Organization (ASLO) is holding an event series titled “Deaf Culture Series” and featured Sylvya Boyd, a sign language interpreter who has been deaf since she was three weeks old, who spoke on Zoom on Tuesday. 

Boyd began interpreting after she was in college but is now a part-time freelance interpreter in Nashville and various areas of Kentucky. She said her first experience interpreting was while she was in college. 

“There’s a couple of students, they have responsibilities where they would do laundry,” Boyd said. “We’re supposed to take turns, and a couple of them just took [a deaf man’s] laundry out, and just threw it on the floor. And [a] girl found out and came, there’s a huge fight.”

Boyd said the argument resulted in her first job as an interpreter.

“They weren’t well versed in sign language. I mean, the signing was so fast,” Boyd said. “They were completely missing everything. So they called me, ‘Hey, we need your help’. And so then I started as an interpreter for the staff.”

Boyd is a certified deaf interpreter and said the process of becoming certified includes taking specific classes to be educated about interpretation skills, taking the CDI exam, and completing workshops.

As someone who has dedicated her life to being an interpreter, she said deaf interpreters can communicate on many different levels.

“The deaf interpreter can read their body language, eye contact, facial expressions, and that really communicates a lot more than we realize,” Boyd said. 

The next event in the series will be March 30 and will feature Kinya Embry, a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) speech-language pathologist (SLP).

Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy