“There are a million rules that dictate where to place your hands in space, what you do with your eyebrows, how you move your mouth – your mouth is for your adverbs. When someone is speaking English, use of expressions, idioms, double negatives etc. often means that what someone says is not always what they mean. It is mental gymnastics – taking in the spoken language, maintaining the message and outputting the signs. That’s why it’s interpretation, not translation,” explains Anna Grunfeld.
A proud 5th generation born and raised Ottawan, Anna came to Toronto for university and to experience life in a larger city. Originally planning to become a special education teacher, she opted to take an ASL (American Sign Language) class as an elective at York University. Taught by a professor who was deaf, she had a truly immersive class experience in a new language. Her life trajectory changed when one day her professor asked her, “I can see that this is clicking for you, have you ever thought of being an interpreter?” Her response, “No, but now I am!” She decided to attend the ASL interpreter program at George Brown College.
Anna is a self-employed community-based sign language interpreter, which means she facilitates communication between Deaf and hearing parties in the local community wherever the need is. As many of the settings are within social service agencies, Anna is there for her clients in very critical times. She attends medical and mental health appointments, and visits at correctional facilities. Anna has been involved with a jail in Kingston for 9 years, with up to 4-5 deaf inmates at a time. When her clients are released from prison, she assists with the probation and parole communication. People have the option to request a repeat interpreter, and therefore Anna is often with repeated clients and builds connections over time.
Halfway through her interpreter program, Anna met her husband Moshe at a NCSY event. They lived in Kingston while Moshe attended Law School and then returned to Ottawa to be surrounded by family. As leaders in a small Jewish community, Anna and Moshe had their hands in every committee from Bikur Cholim organizer, to Eruv checker, to youth committee for their shul and more. Moshe’s job offer brought them back to Toronto in 2019 and they enrolled their 2 children in Netivot. Anna shares, “We feel very grateful that there are options of schools where you can feel like you fit. We are very happy at Netivot and very fortunate for the environment our children are in.”