Academic journal article Sign Language Studies

Translation Challenges and Strategies: The ASL Translation of a Computer-Based, Psychiatric Diagnostic Interview

Academic journal article Sign Language Studies

Translation Challenges and Strategies: The ASL Translation of a Computer-Based, Psychiatric Diagnostic Interview

Article excerpt

WITH ITS OWN UNIQUE vocabulary, idioms, grammar, and subtle nuances, American Sign Language (ASL) is a language in its own right. It is different from English. The number of Deaf Americans whose primary language is ASL is difficult to measure precisely (Alien 1994). Estimates of Deaf people who use ASL as a primary or secondary language range from 500,000 to approximately one million (ibid.; Brauer 1993). Because of a combination of difficulties in English language acquisition and consequent special education needs, many Deaf individuals read poorly. The median reading comprehension of deaf high school graduates is equivalent to approximately grade 4.$ (Holt 1994), making it difficult to use written or spoken, standardized psychiatric instruments with them (Marschark 1993; Steinberg 1991). Although a sign language interpreter or interpreting team (two hearing interpreters or one hearing and one deaf interpreter) may translate an instrument into ASL, interpreters can introduce extraneous factors into the testing situation, for example, poor or unequal translation, misunderstanding of content or intention of original test items, leading translation, interpreting by someone who is unqualified, and lack of guidance for interpreters on how to handle items that do not translate easily from one culture to another (Baxter and Cheng 1996; Friend 1991; Hafrher 1992; Pasick et al. 1996; Phelan and Parkman 1995; Rader 1988; Vasquez and Javier 1991; Westermeyer 1990). (Note: It has become a common convention [Dolnick 1993; Lane, Hofimeister, and Ißahan 1996; Mindness 1999] to use an uppercase "D" to refer to that subset of individuals who are deaf and view themselves as part of the Deaf community and embrace Deaf culture and American Sign Language as their primary language. Readers are referred to the literature for a more thorough description of ASL and a full description of and comparison between American Deaf and hearing cultures |Lane et al. 1996; Mindness 1999; Valli and Lucas 199$]. The use of lowercase "d" refers to the larger set of people who are deaf and may or may not consider themselves part of the Deaf community.) Mental-health clinicians who serve the Deaf community have expressed the critical need for a psychometrically sound, psychiatric diagnostic instrument in ASL, particularly since no standardized, mental-health diagnostic tool currently exists for clinical practice with patients who arc deaf (Marschark 1993; Steinberg 1991).

Study Purpose

The goal of this research was to develop and conduct a preliminary validation of a computer-based, self-administered instrument, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for the Deaf (D-DIS-IV) in ASL with English captions, thereby making accessible the standardized !Diagnostic Interview Schedule for individuals who arc Deaf (DIS-IV) (Robbins 1999). The translation procedure for the second phase of this study is described in an earlier article (Eckhardt et al. 1999). The present article describes the translation goals and challenges encountered during the translation phase of this study as well as translation strategies and solutions. Future articles will address adaptations made to the instrument as a result of differences between the hearing and the deaf cultures, world views, life experiences, and experiences of various mental illnesses and symptoms, as well as the findings of the subsequent field trials of the translated instrument with deaf adults.

Selection of the DIS-IV

The Diagnostic Interview Schedule IV (Robins 1999) was chosen because of its suitability for administration on computers due to its structured design and the close-ended nature of the majority of responses, its successful translation into at least twenty-five languages, and its utility as both a clinical instrument and a research tool. The development of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule began in 1978 at the request of the National Institute of Mental Health for use in the epidemiological catchment area study (Robbins and Regier 1991). …

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