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Sign Language Interpreters Prepare for Interpreting Traumatic Experiences

Psychological Health and Resilience Can Be Strengthened Through Training

SALT LAKE CITY, UT -- (Marketwire) -- 10/30/12 -- Special training is helping thousands of sign language interpreters cope with interpreting traumatic Video Relay Service (VRS) calls -- calls that empower deaf people to communicate with hearing people, including 911, in real time using a videophone, PC or mobile device.

In addition to the ongoing, routine 911 training all Sorenson Communications American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters receive, a new initiative from Sorenson, the largest private employer of interpreters in the United States and the nation's leading provider of VRS, is recommending additional training for every Sorenson interpreter by the end of next year.

"The emotional and physical safety of Sorenson VRS® customers and our Sorenson interpreters is our top priority," notes Chris Wakeland, Sorenson Vice President of Interpreting. "Some interpreters witness very traumatic events over the videophone. And, with 911 VRS calls, our interpreters are seeing the emergency even before emergency personnel arrive. Because there's a kind of engagement on the interpreter's part, traumatic events often impact interpreters in a secondary, or vicarious, way. So there's a real need to help interpreters understand the dynamic of trauma so they can prepare themselves before they are exposed to traumatic events. That way, following a traumatic interpreting session, they will be resilient and again be able to engage with callers in providing the best VRS service possible."

Sorenson has enlisted psychologist Ron Lybarger, Ph.D., also a sign language interpreting specialist, to conduct workshops on self care and prepare Sorenson interpreters for traumatic exposure. Lybarger discusses how to prevent stress, improve ability to manage energy and emotion during crises, develop enhanced resiliency, proactively create strategies to be effective and confident and take responsibility for one's own health and wellbeing. The contents of VRS calls, which must remain confidential under federal law, will not be disclosed during the workshops.

Lybarger clarifies the role of professional interpreters as well as provides information about how interpreters can determine if they are affected by trauma -- what to do about it and what resources are available. "We want to help interpreters minimize and mitigate symptoms sometimes associated with traumatic exposure, which can include anxiety, sleep problems and depression," he says.

Lybarger notes that preliminary studies suggest that strengthening resilience and psychological health can be accomplished through training and preparation, which includes exercise, meditation, compassion for self, social support, even yoga. All are beneficial in multiple ways, says Lybarger, adding, "Post-traumatic growth is not simply a return to baseline from a period of suffering; instead, it is an experience of improvement that for some people is deeply profound."

About Sorenson Communications
Sorenson Communications® (www.sorenson.com) is a provider of industry-leading communications products and services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The company's offerings include Sorenson Video Relay Service® (SVRS®), the highest-quality video interpreting service; the new Sorenson ntouch® VP videophone, designed especially for use by deaf individuals; ntouch® PC, software that connects users to SVRS by using a PC and webcam; ntouch® Mobile, an application empowering SVRS communication via mobile devices; and Sorenson IP Relay® (SIPRelay®), a text-to-speech relay service.

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