Today we’d like to introduce you to Dina Shimek.
Hi Dina, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I became interested in American Sign Language in third grade after being taught to perform “Silent Night” in ASL on a cruise. I was fascinated by the language and checked out every book on it at the library (pre internet) in order to teach myself. I later attended Gallaudet University for the Deaf and earned my degree in Sign Language Interpretation from the University of South Florida. I have been interpreting in South Florida for 17 years and started my business, Hearthands LLC in 2008. Hearthands provides Sign Language Interpretation, education, and support. As a Nationally Certified Interpreter, I have had the opportunity go to unique places and be a part of a variety of life events. I have interpreted intimate occasions, like the birth of a child, the death of a loved one and public events, like the time I was honored to interpret for President Obama. My heart and passion for the work I do is because of the Deaf community. Not only is the language beautiful, but the culture and the people are as well. I feel so very blessed to be able to work with this population everyday.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Being a “baby interpreter” (what the profession calls new Interpreters) was challenging. Even with a degree in the field, it took time, respect, and experience to grow and develop. There are only a few settings that are appropriate for a baby interpreter or one who is working on becoming Nationally Certified. This limits opportunity for growth. Also, there is a huge amount of trust a Deaf person must have in an Interpreter, having confidence that they are both interpreting and voicing what is being communicated accurately. Trust within the community takes time and patience. My first few years in the profession were met with some frustrations, but also many lessons and invaluable experiences that I carry with me still.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a Nationally Certified Interpreter, which gives me a huge variety of settings to chose from. I do, however have preferences. I have a love for the Arts and have had amazing opportunities to interpret plays, musicals, concerts, comedy shows, etc. Some of my most treasured events were interpreting two nights of Adele and interpreting for Jerry Seinfeld. While Covid 19 had limited live performances and many of the events that would require an Interpreter, it also has explanded what we can do virtually. I am currently only interpreting online which has opened up a new world of remote possibilities. I am now able to reach a greater audience and provide access on a much greater scale.
Any big plans?
I plan to give back to the community. I want to support both my local community and the Deaf community as much as possible. I have provided basic ASL trainings to first responders and other community members that can benefit from knowing the language. I would love to offer more classes and probono Interpreting services to the Deaf for events where Interpreters are not provided for them. I am also developing meditations is ASL for the Deaf community, who typically do not have interpreted access to something like a meditation, and will be posting them on YouTube for any Deaf person seeking peace through meditation.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.hearthandsllc.com
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