Many challenges and barriers prevent interpreters from addressing global scale issues. Examples of challenges that interpreters have experienced include:
- Guests coming to see animals and to have a good time with their friends or family, not to learn about a "depressing" topic.
- Interpreters don’t know why the aquarium is making such a big deal out of this. As an interpreter, want to focus on helping visitors learn about the animals.
- Does the institution really want to address climate change or is the institutions just saying it thinks climate change is an important issue?
- Shouldn’t institutions and interpreters be doing a lot more to reduce our own impacts before trying to talk with visitors about what they can do?
- Our institution is in a conservative region, so we have to be very careful.
- Climate change is very complex. How can interpreters make a difference by having brief interactions with visitors?
These are legitimate questions and concerns. However, it is possible to both provide a good experience for visitors and to help them feel that they can make a positive difference. In fact, there is some evidence that suggests audiences may be surprisingly receptive to having interpreters help them understand how they can shape a healthier future for their children, grandchildren, and the ecosystems that we share.
The activities and information in this area are intended to help address some of the common challenges that interpreters face.
Please share your experiences as you address challenges – both the successes and the failures to make progress overcoming them. If there is a particular challenge that often comes up in your experience and that you would like help with, please share that with this community as well. We’re likely to have some good ideas to help.