Time flies when you are having fun! For five years, we have been honored to connect with you about the field we love so much.
It’s been a pleasure engaging with practitioners and stakeholders in the field of sign language interpreting for the past five years. A lot has happened in that time. StreetLeverage contributors and readers have engaged in meaningful and sometimes difficult conversations for which we are grateful. At the same time, we have had the opportunity to meet many new friends, reconnect with others, and attempt to create a space where conversation, self-reflection, and accountability are encouraged.
At StreetLeverage, we also believe in taking the time to celebrate the special moments, special people, and good times. This milestone birthday is one of those moments for us. Thank you for supporting and participating in the StreetLeverage endeavor. Raise a glass with us in celebration!
Here are some fun, unpublished facts to help celebrate our 5 year anniversary.
We’d love to hear from you! Please take a moment to share some of your own StreetLeverage memories in the comments section below. Here are some questions to start you thinking:
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Traditional models of sign language interpreter referral are going head-to-head with technology as the digital realm’s innovation and sophistication foster the creation of out-of-the-box solutions for providing access. Read this case-in-point.
Are sign language interpreters ready to challenge their own ideas about “standard practices”?
Just as VRS and VRI redefined the field of signed language interpretation, coming technologies have the potential to change the trajectory of work in the field. Could alternative methods for finding, assigning, billing for and paying sign language interpreters mean more choices for consumers, practitioners and requestors?
We can already look to CSD’s Vineya, Linguabee, and now, Stratus’ InPerson app, for examples that we are standing on the precipice of evolutionary events in our field. What are the benefits? Are there downsides to exploring new ways to solve old problems? Traditional standards for vetting sign language interpreters, matching them with assignments, teaming, billing and other established methods in sign language interpreter referral seem to be next in the lineup for radical change. Eschew or embrace it – change is coming.
On February 26, 2016, HealthCareIT News posted “Stratus Video to Debut Uber-like app for interpreters at HIMSS16.”According to Stratus Video insiders, the article regarding the release of their InPerson app was a bit premature. The article’s publication, however, prompted Brandon Arthur, founder of StreetLeverage.com, to reach out to Stratus Video for an interview about the app, their strategy for moving forward, and their thoughts on a variety of questions many sign language interpreters posed as they learned about the app’s official release. In a telephone interview, Brandon spoke with Kathryn Jackson, Vice President of Language Operations, joined by Tom Thompson, Executive Director of Stratus InPerson, and Kate Pascucci, Director of Marketing.
Stratus Video has been in the process of developing their InPerson app in response to growing evidence that while VRI (video remote interpreting) can be beneficial in many situations, it is not always the best fit for patients, hospital personnel, or interpreters using signed and/or spoken languages. While they recognize that the avenues used to provide interpreters can be important and impact the success or failure of a given interaction, Stratus believes that “even though the products are exciting, we know we are really providing interpreting services.”
Initially slated to roll out to hospitals and courts, Stratus’ InPerson app is designed as an added support for current, on-demand interpreting services provided via video. Leveraging technology to create a new model for interpreting may reduce costs for medical and other facilities while maintaining market rates of pay for interpreters, according to Tom Thompson.
Stratus believes that by considering the needs of all parties – the patient/consumer of interpreting services, the interpreter, and the requesting entity – the InPerson app, combined with Stratus video services can be a win-win-win. Over the last two years, Stratus met with groups of interpreters and administrators to ensure they were getting the big picture. A successful release of the app could signify a radical change for sign language interpreters in a marketplace that has already been impacted by video technology and other technological advances.
How Does the Stratus InPerson App Work?
For interpreting professionals, downloading the app from the Apple iTunes Store or Google Play is free. The first screen allows practitioners to “Register as an Interpreter” and requires interpreters to answer a variety of questions to provide specific information which will be used to determine assignment offerings based on the needs and requirements of the requestor. Once the interpreter’s information is entered, a Stratus team member will contact them to verify the validity of credentials, skill sets, experience, education, etc. When an interpreter is vetted and approved, they will be entered into the network as an independent contractor and can begin accepting assignments sent to them via the app.
On the provider side, the facility can put out a request for an interpreter via the InPerson app, as well. After determining the language need, the facility provides the time(s) needed, the specific location within the facility, rate(s) of pay, special instructions, and other pertinent information so that the job can be broadcast out to interpreters who meet the criteria for the job. Requestors also have the ability to create groupings based on the practitioner pools they have. If there are preferred interpreters, staff interpreters or interpreters with specialized skill sets, the requests can be filtered accordingly.
Once an interpreter is accepted into the network, they will be able to accept jobs which are broadcast out to them based on the different sets of criteria created by the practitioner and/or the requesting agency. Job assignments are made on a “first come, first serve” basis. If an interpreter meets the criteria and they are available, the rate is appropriate, etc., they can click on “Accept This Job.”
After the interpreter accepts the job, they receive the details and the facility is notified that the job has been assigned, and to whom. The interpreter’s profile will be provided to the facility – they can see a photo of the interpreter so that when they show up, the team knows what the interpreter looks like and has an idea of their level of experience and credentials. The photo also assists when the interpreter arrives so that assigned team members can identify them right away and escort them to the assignment.
Notably, the InPerson App does not include patient/client information due to HIPAA rules and other privacy concerns. Thompson stated, “In terms of the platform itself, there is no patient data that comes across our platform…you are never going to find their name or room number, or any information about a patient anywhere in the system.” Interpreters can accept an assignment and then request additional information directly from the requesting entity. If upon further investigation, the interpreter feels they will not be a good match for the job, they can notify the requestor at that time.
Credentialing and Issue Resolution
While Stratus doesn’t have established credentialing requirements, they do follow the requirements of the facilities who utilize their services. Once a facility signs on, Stratus will onboard interpreters based on adherence to client needs. In terms of quality assurance, Thompson emphasized that there is a review process for both the interpreter and the facility which Stratus will oversee on their end. By allowing for a review process, issues can be managed quickly to ensure happy providers and practitioners. In the course of the interview, there was no specific mention of a review process for consumers.
In addition to the review process following each completed assignment, there is an option on the app to “Open an Issue,” which is a more serious type of monitoring. Both sides can open an issue which allows for investigation and pro-active work to resolve problems before they worsen. An issue, according to Stratus, is usually considered a more serious professional issue – the interpreter does not meet the qualifications for the assignment, the interpreter is late or unprofessional, etc. While not stated in the interview, this may be one avenue for consumer input regarding various interpreters.
Billing and Payment
According to Thompson, Stratus recognizes that each location is different in terms of interpreter rates. Bearing that in mind, Stratus doesn’t set the rates, rather they investigate the market and make recommendations to facilities who are signing on to use their service. Thompson was quick to dismiss Uber comparisons by pointing out that Stratus is not looking for a race to the bottom; instead, they are looking to open markets up for interpreters, hospitals, and courtrooms and for those in need of interpreting services, stating, “We have to make sure that it works for everybody, or it’s not going to work.”
Reportedly, interpreters have responded favorably to the idea that Stratus jobs are paid regularly in two-week intervals whether the requesting entity has paid Stratus for services or not. This kind of revenue stability is attractive to interpreters who often work with variable payment schedules and have to spend much of their time chasing revenue.
Whether you are an early adopter or reluctant latecomer, the technology this new app represents and the marketing strategies explored are, without a doubt, the wave of the future in many industries. For a high-touch, high context, specialized field like sign language interpreting where tradition and change go head-to-head on a regular basis, it is imperative that we explore all angles. Could one of these new technologies lead to better solutions? Questions linger regarding long-standing, hard-won standards of practice, ownership of quality standards, interpreter/consumer matches, inclusion of the linguistic minority cultures served, the use of CDIs, the “first come, first hired” methodology, etc.
Here are some of the most common questions/concerns posed when the Stratus InPerson App press release first came out. Most are not specific to the particular company/app but address the more global issues sign language interpreter referral has been facing for some time.
As one of the most fundamental, foundational values of the Deaf and interpreting communities, confidentiality is always one of the most critical concepts to address.
As previously mentioned, the InPerson app does not provide patient/client information as one of the ways Stratus can protect the privacy and confidentiality demands from medical and legal entities. Contractors and staff alike are asked to agree to confidentiality standards and are expected to adhere to them. As in traditional coordination, there is a level of inherent trust that interpreters will uphold the ethical standards of the field with avenues to pursue action should there be a need.
Coordinating sign language interpreters is challenging under the most perfect of circumstances. One possible downside of the model Stratus is using may be in the “first come, first hired” methodology. If requesting entities are determining skill sets/required credentials, who’s to say that the “race to the bottom” isn’t just happening along a different road? This is one of the most common complaints lobbied at spoken language agencies who provide sign language interpreters. The interpreter is still self-identifying that they are qualified for the jobs they take and according to Stratus executives, the hiring entity is determining the quality and caliber of the interpreter hired for each assignment. On the other hand, Stratus InPerson App does allow requesters to select pools of interpreters. If those within the organization understand what they are looking for relative to interpreter quality, this can support and possibly enhance the quality of services currently being provided to consumers through direct contracts or more traditional interpreter referral agencies, particularly where schedulers do not know the interpreters personally.
Meeting Consumer Needs – Cultural, Linguistic, and Other
Another potential sticking point in placing sign language interpreters via an app lies in the lack of consumer information provided, particularly when focused on the medical, mental health and legal systems. These arenas are some of the most high-stakes interpreting possible with potentially life-altering results. Deaf and hard of hearing consumers are already faced with unknown interpreters, lack of practitioner continuity and poor matching based on availability and poor quality control. Coordination by app does not seem to resolve any of these issues, nor does it exacerbate them as this is currently one of the many Everests interpreter coordinators face on a daily basis.
According to the interview, Stratus interpreters who use the InPerson app would be able to do some follow up with the hiring entity to ensure good matches are made and no conflicts of interest arise, however, those same opportunities exist now and are not always utilized. If the requestor does not know the patient/consumer history with an interpreter or the skills needed to interpret accurately and effectively in a specific arena, they may not be able to answer questions if the interpreter asks them.
One question interpreters posted online after reading the initial press release was, “How can the Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual participate in the hiring of the interpreter? Is there an avenue for that?” No mention was made of this path in our interview with Stratus. If consumer preferences could be captured, how would that work? What would it have to look like for buy-in from the Deaf and Interpreting communities?
Teaming/Use of CDIs
When questioned about the use of teaming or the utilization of CDIs when needed, Stratus representatives were supportive of the professional decision-making of the interpreter. Kathryn Jackson stated, “They can, and should, share their professional opinions with the administrators, and make those requests. And certainly we’ve always supported that – the idea of teaming, the idea of getting CDIs…for the interpreter to do their most effective work.” Again, this is not that different from current standards in jobs which are booked for under one hour. If interpreters find themselves in circumstances where they need a team or the expertise of a CDI, they must advocate for that in the moment, which may or may not happen, and may or may not be successful.
Standards for Pay
Stratus reports that they will go into a market to research current pay rates for interpreters as opposed to researching agency mark-ups which might allow for undercutting. Once a recommended standard rate of pay is determined, this is communicated to the hiring entities to maximize fill rates. Basically, Stratus does the homework to find out what rates interpreters will accept for specific types of work and then transparently charges an administrative fee of $15/hour to facilitate the assignment of interpreters via the app. In theory, the volume of work increases, the middle man (agency) is eliminated thus resulting in lower rates for the requestors, more work for the interpreters and a steady stream of income for Stratus.
While the plan outlined by Stratus makes sense on paper, how does it really work if an entity decides to pay something other than the recommended rate? Obviously, fill rates are on the minds of coordinators, but what happens to the consumer if the hourly rate paid to interpreters is the highest priority? What are the mechanisms that would prevent a vendor from going for the lowest rate as a matter of course?
An additional concern is the vastness of the task. The amount of work required to act as an insider in every market is exhaustive and requires feet on the ground talking to interpreters, hospitals, and other contracting entities. While this methodology sounds like it could have some positive outcomes, how long will it last? If those involved in the process of information-gathering are spread too thin, will their work to facilitate an average rate remain on point? If this model of business becomes unsustainable, what comes next?
Calling All Stakeholders: Dialogue is Key
Our interview with Stratus Video provided valuable insight into their process and perspectives on finding alternatives to traditional interpreter referral and the increasingly utilized VRI solution. Their app works to bridge the gap between the two in the face of evidence that one size does not fit all. Stratus’ research on market needs, local sign language interpreter rates and the leveraging of geolocation technology all point towards new horizons in the business of sign language interpreter provision. While technology like Stratus’ InPerson app challenges our views on vetting, contracting, billing, and other aspects of service provision, it also creates opportunities for dialogue. As Jackson sagely stated, “Anytime there’s something new, there is always going to be a bit of fear, and it’s okay…I think it’s healthy to always have debate; I think it’s healthy to challenge ourselves, and it’s always good to get together in a room and talk about stuff.”
To be sure, the explosion of technology in the last decade has altered the course of both the practice and the business of sign language interpreting. Whether one eschews or embraces it, this redefinition brings an opportunity for stakeholders to come to the table and consider the impact of new technologies and methodologies on the work sign language interpreters do in support of the Deaf Community.
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Questions for consideration:
How does “referral by app” impact patients and practitioners? Are there hidden human or financial costs/benefits?
Can this type of technology support traditional interpreter provision? Are there ways to combine traditional referral techniques with apps which enhance speed and may lower costs?
How can practitioners, consumers, and vendors work together to ensure that these types of technological advances explore all perspectives and possibilities?
With apps available for everything, recommendations can narrow the search. In his 2016 reboot, Brandon Arthur highlights apps that make communication, commuting and productivity easier, faster and safer for sign language interpreters.
What a difference a few years make! In 2013, StreetLeverage featured Leave Now, Google Maps, Evernote, Expensify and Bump as must-have apps. In the years since that post, daily life for even the most tech-averse sign language interpreter has evolved. As a group, sign language interpreters are likely some of the most teched-up, tech-savvy professionals around. It’s probably hard for most of us to remember what life was like before we had the ability to manage the intersection of our work and personal lives with the swipe of a finger.
With the bazillions of apps released annually, which ones are particularly useful for sign language interpreters? Below are seven more apps that may help you communicate more effectively, reclaim some of your sanity, and be more productive in the process.
“Live Video Messenger. Experience lightning fast, back and forth video chat.”
I still remember the horrifying moment when a Deaf colleague said, “Wow. You are really behind the times. You need to get Glide. Send me a message when you do.” I later learned that the first Deaf Interpreter Conference was planned entirely through Glide communication. There is no better match of technology and sign language interpreter than the Glide app. Combine the perfection of being able to send messages in ASL to Deaf friends and colleagues with Glide’s interest in supporting the Deaf community and you have a no-brainer.
Here is just one example of the way Glide is engaging with the Deaf Community: Dear Hearing People – video made by Glider users and Glide Community Manager, Sarah Snow.
Downloads Available: App store, Google Play, Microsoft Store
“Uber is the smartest way to get around. One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver knows exactly where to go. And payment is completely cashless.”
Another ubiquitous app attending to users in the Deaf community is Uber. As the popularity of Uber spreads, so, too, do opportunities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing drivers. For sign language interpreters who prefer not to use a personal vehicle or want to move between assignments without paying the high price of urban parking, supporting Uber gets you there quickly and inexpensively while supporting the Deaf ecosystem. What more could you want in a free app?
“Private Messaging. Private Networking. Send private, encrypted, disappearing messages to friends or co-workers.”
Private, encrypted texting which disappears after reading, Cyberdust’s app supports one of the major values of sign language interpreters – confidentiality. Messages disappear after they are read and do not touch any hard drive in the process. Unlike other “private” messaging apps, Cyberdust messages are not stored. Unread messages disappear after 24 hours.
Downloads Available: App store, Google Play, Microsoft Store
Many sign language interpreters have to manage multiple invoices, forms and other pieces of vital business paperwork. SignEasy allows you to sign documents in various formats from almost anywhere. Easy to use, this app’s most basic form is free, but for additional features, users will have to pay a fee.
Cost: FREE for basic functions
Downloads Available: App store, Google Play, Desktop download
Looking for an Android enabled app that does everything but fix the kitchen sink? Tasker may just be the one you want. Listed as one of the most powerful productivity apps available, Tasker has more than 200 different actions including LED flashing for text messages, a screen dimmer you set for specific times of the day, and home screen buttons you can program to send standard text messages like “on-the-way-home”. Most reviews indicate there is a learning curve, but this app may be worth it.
Language is every interpreter’s superpower, except when it isn’t. Need a pronunciation or a definition while you are stuck in the basement of a University classroom with no signal? This Dictionary app works offline, so definitions, word spellings, origins, and synonyms are literally at your fingertips. With more than 2,000,000 English language definitions, you can find idioms, slang, and specialized vocabulary to suit any interpreting situation. With the Dictionary app, you’ll always be wearing your smarty pants.
While we hope that sign language interpreters don’t find themselves in risky situations, SafeTrek is an app that can keep you safe. There are times when interpreters have felt unsafe walking back to their car after a late appointment or find themselves in other uncomfortable circumstances. With a “Hold until safe” button, users let go of the phone in the event something happens, activating the phone to call the police. SafeTrek has been highly rated as one of the top safety apps available.
Cost: Free 30 day trial/$2.99 per month or $29.99 annually
As sign language interpreters, we have a keen sense that time is our most valuable asset. I am hopeful that you will find these apps helpful in adding time back to your life.
After all, in a world that is increasingly busy, anything that takes our mind off of the logistics of the job, enhances our ability to communicate effectively and efficiently, and helps us focus on the work at hand is a good thing, no?
What apps have made a difference managing your work?
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Is it possible to create a learning environment that effectively supports taking 220+ sign language interpreters on a guided exploration of their work, while offering real-world advice on how to enhance this work, and do it all in three days? Prior to attending the 2014 Institute on Legal Interpreting (ILI) in Denver, Colorado August 21st-23rd, I would have said, Possible? Yes. Likely? No.
If you attended the 2014 ILI you know, not only is it possible, it happened and was amazing!
Behind the Scenes
StreetLeverage is excited to have partnered with Anna Witter-Merithew and the good folks at the MARIE Center to extend backstage access to the 2014 ILI. What follows is a summary of the StreetLeverage coverage.
How ILI Got Started
Anna Witter-Merithew sat down and shared how the Institute on Legal Interpreting got started, the important role of Deaf interpreters at ILI, and the significant contribution made by Diane Fowler in the promotion of advanced legal training for sign language interpreters.
During any type of guided exploration, it is important to set a tone of collaboration and safety. This task was left to keynote speakers and meta facilitators, Carol-lee Aquiline and Sharon Neumann Solow.
They sat down and shared their hopes for conference attendees and their excitement to see Deaf and Hearing interpreters exploring strategies to effectively work together.
At the center of the conference was the examination of the work of 5 teams of sign language interpreters comprised of Deaf-Hearing and Hearing-Hearing interpreters. This served as the basis of examination for all sessions and group discussions.
These good interpreters shared insights into their teaming and work experience during two panel sessions. You can watch them here:
Panel One: Deaf-Hearing Interpreting Team Reflections
A prominent theme running throughout the conference was the importance of Deaf and Hearing interpreters working together effectively as a team. Jimmy Beldon, Carla Mathers and Kelby Brick share insights into how to this can be done effectively.
Jimmy Beldon Offers Insight on Supporting Deaf Interpreters and the Importance of the ILI
With the passing of Legal Eagle, Diane Fowler, founder of the Iron Sharpens Iron conference (the precursor to the ILI), the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Legal Interpreter Member Section (LIMS) Chair, Liz Mendoza, announced the establishment of the Diane Fowler Award.
There are a couple of real standout developments at the 2014 ILI. The ILI had 54 Deaf interpreters attend over the weekend. This is the largest of gathering of Deaf interpreters in the field in recent memory (maybe, ever). Perhaps, it is because, in the words of Jimmy Beldon, “The ILI is a ‘home’ for CDIs.”
The 2014 ILI had 26 facilitators working throughout the weekend in order to support and encourage meaningful discussion and learning. These folks deserve a medal of honor for their tremendous work.
The coverage at the Institute on Legal Interpreting was only possible with the support of several amazing and talented people. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to those magic makers that brought the ILI coverage to life.
Special thanks (left to right) to: Lance Pickett, Jean Miller, Kristy Bradley, John Lestina, and Wing Butler (not seen here).
I would like to extend my thanks to Anna Witter-Merithew, Carla Mathers, and the good folks at the MARIE Center for their vision and the opportunity to partner with them to extend the reach of the ILI to the broader Deaf and sign language interpreting communities.
Brandon Arthur | Closes up the StreetLeverage Coverage of the 2014 ILI
The terrible cocktail of “schizophrenia,” unethical business leadership and uninformed government decisions makers that lead to the sign language interpreting debacle at Mandela’s memorial service is a tragedy.
As a sign language interpreter, I cringe at the thought that as a field, we are responsible for the world’s distraction from the celebration of one of the planet’s most widely recognized human rights leaders and for yet another injustice served up to the Deaf Community.
The question that continues to roll around in my head is after the tsunami of sensationalism, swarming armchair quarterbacks, and CYA puffery blows over is, what will change?
While Thamsanqa Jantjie is the current face of the issue, unqualified sign language interpreters deploying or being deployed into local communities around the globe is a longstanding and widespread problem. A problem that necessitates the cooperation of a multiplicity of industry stakeholders willing to put down their nursing agenda and be accountable for the breakdowns in the system that continue to allow this problem to persist.
Are we courageous enough as field, both practitioner and organization, to make the hard decisions necessary to truly eradicate the problem?
If we come away from this debacle truly resolved to create meaningful resolution to the issue of unqualified sign language interpreters infringing on the human rights of Deaf people, perhaps we should consider taking action on the following:
Incorporate the applicable aspects of the UNCRPD as part of the ethical practices system for working sign language interpreters. Further, to insist on more aggressive and timely actions for violations.
Found a national organization to create, uphold and promote standards of practice for businesses deploying sign language interpreters.
Establish a coalition responsible for a partnership between national associations serving the Deaf community, national organizations serving sign language interpreters, and organizations responsible for the public awareness of the rights of Deaf people and the roles and responsibility of sign language interpreters.
Insist on local partnerships between Deaf and sign language interpreting organizations that result in the perpetuation of native perspectives among practicing sign language interpreters.
Care to add?
Thanks to Mandela for doing in death what he did in life, using his existence to raise the awareness of the atrocities, injustices, and disadvantages suffered at the hand of privilege, while working to make the world a more inhabitable place.
Let’s not allow the memory of Mandela’s memorial service to be one where the field of sign language interpreting disappointed the world. Let it be one where we honor Mandela’s life by rising from the ashes galvanized to end the rampant problem of unqualified practitioners infringing upon the human rights of Deaf people.
What makes up a successful career as a sign language interpreter? Logically, it depends on who is asked. Regardless of what are ultimately determined to be the magic ingredients, those interpreters who are the most successful and satisfied in their work are those who consistently seek out opportunities to grow as a professional.
While this growth may seem like it is only possible over time, and time being an important part, I believe there are steps one can take to establish a foundation for success.
Below you will find 5 simple steps that will add an important level of polish to your career.
1. A Pro bono Injection.
Commit to accepting pro bono assignments. Notice I didn’t say volunteer? This commitment consciously moves us past the concerns for payment and terms and reconnects us with the fundamental reason we signed up to do this work—supporting people.
There is a tremendous satisfaction in knowing your work as a sign language interpreter has made a difference. Pro bono work will rewarm the goo inside, which will do wonders for your perspective on the work and your role in it.
Pro bono grants perspective.
2. Forgo the CEUs.
Identify a couple of learning opportunities annually that you believe will genuinely enhance your daily work, sign up, and actively attend. At the conclusion of the learning, forgo the CEUs for the activity. Consciously decide that the learning was for the enhancement of your work as a sign language interpreter and ultimately the experience of those consuming that work.
There is a confidence that comes to the interpreter who hones their craft in the interest of those who use their service.
The right type of confidence is rewarded with abundant opportunity.
3. Volunteer Your Time.
Take an opportunity to volunteer at least once per year at a community- or industry-related event. It is no secret that local, regional, and national organizations working in the interests of the Deaf community and sign language interpreters are under-resourced and depend on the generous acts of volunteers to support their work.
For one week, commit to sending a handwritten note of appreciation to each of the sign language interpreters you encounter on the job. Specifically compliment them on what you appreciated about their work and what you enjoyed most about working with them.
Celebrating your colleagues in this way requires that you are conscious of the work done while together and that you recognize the talents your fellow interpreters bring to the field.
The karma of these acts of appreciation will come back to you tenfold.
5. Set One Goal.
Take an opportunity to set one goal, big or small. Set out and do that thing that you have wanted to do but haven’t made time for. When done, set another. The act of setting the goal and accomplishing it is very empowering. This empowerment will extend to your work and introduce you to new opportunities to challenge yourself, all of which will make you a more versatile sign language interpreter.
So, take that photography class. You might just be the next Jo Hilton!
The easiest approach to career enhancement for a sign language interpreter is through acts of conscious generosity. Through a willingness to give of your time, talents, and resources you will discover an abundance of opportunity to create a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve. It is in these opportunities that true career enhancement is possible.
What suggestions do you have on how to enhance the career of a sign language interpreter?
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Brandon Arthur interviews Laurie Nash, Vice Chair of the Interpreters with Deaf Parents (IDP) Member Section of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), on the stunning retraction of the referendum, that if passed, would have established a designated position on the RID Board of Directors for an IDP Member at Large position.
“Many of us felt that the passage of this referendum was important in order to help RID reconnect with the deaf community and the values that were the foundation of the establishment of RID 50 years ago.”
“I am here to talk about IDP but I do want to acknowledge that other members feel disenfranchised by RID as well. I cannot speak for them but they do have similar feelings of not being involved in the decision making process. IDP believed that if we had a position on the board then that would guarantee a place at the decision making table.”
“The president somehow misunderstood that a 2/3 majority of the vote was required as opposed to the a simple majority she used to determine the initial passage of the referendum.”
“We were told this late on Wednesday night and the announcement from the board was made Thursday. Obviously the RID board had already prepared their announcement and video and were ready to announce this to the membership.”
“I think for many IDP members there is a desire for our organization and our members to recognize that indeed many interpreters with deaf parents bring something unique to our field.”
“I think it is important to emphasize that respectful dialogue is the key to moving forward. I encourage all members of RID be mindful of respecting each other as we move forward.”
Brandon: Hello everyone. I am Brandon Arthur from StreetLeverage.com. I am here with Laurie Nash, Vice-Chair of RID’s Interpreters with Deaf Parents Member Section. Welcome Laurie.
Laurie: Hello. Thank you for hosting this dialogue and inviting me.
Brandon: We are here to discuss RID’s announcement from last week about Motion E, the referendum that if passed, would have established a designated position on the RID board of directors for an IDP member at large. With the announcement that the referendum did not pass, I imagine there to be a lot of emotional responses to the announcement. Before we get into the retraction and the response from IDP, I’d like to back up a little bit to the beginning of March when RID announced the historic passage of a bylaws referendum that would establish an IDP seat on the Board of Directors. Can you share with us the feeling and thoughts that the IDP membership had when they learned of the referendum’s passage?
Laurie: Clearly many people, including IDP members, who supported this motion, felt that after a long time we would be getting some change in the direction of RID. Many of us felt that the passage of this referendum was important in order to help RID reconnect with the deaf community and the values that were the foundation of the establishment of RID 50 years ago. So yes, many people were relieved and happy. I know for myself, I felt that after many years, I now have a way to reconnect with RID. The passage of the referendum gave me faith in RID again. Learning that the referendum has passed in the first week of March left people feeling positive and pleased with all of the hard work done to get the referendum to vote
Brandon: You mention “having faith”’ in RID again. So, describe for us what the leadership of IDP, members of RID, and allies feel that this position represents for the future of RID.
Laurie: I believe that IDP members are not unique in feeling that they are underrepresented within RID. There are other groups of interpreters that feel the same way. We have all felt frustrated at some of the decisions made by the RID Board of Directors. These decisions show again a divergence from the communities we serve; their culture, their norms, their values. We have strayed away from that. So an IDP position on the board, we felt, would guarantee that along with the Deaf member at large that is already a part of the board, there would be a stronger connection to native language users and deaf-world natives and those board members would be involved with the decisions of RID from this point forward. Historically there have been a lot of frustrations among many groups. I am here to talk about IDP but I do want to acknowledge that other members feel disenfranchised by RID as well. I cannot speak for them but they do have similar feelings of not being involved in the decision making process. IDP believed that if we had a position on the board then that would guarantee a place at the decision making table. This motion was initially made taking into consideration the current structure of RID. Many people have brought up different ideas for a restructuring of the board and changing the composition of the board. I think that re-evaluating the board is a good idea but that’s not our current reality. The current board composition is what was in mind when the motion was made. Let me clarify, the motion came out of the 2010 Region II conference. The motion carried and was then brought to the floor of the national conference in 2011. A lot of people were involved in the discussions to ensure that the position would work within the current board structure. Members were both in support and opposition for various reasons but for the collective IDP membership was in support of this motion and the concept behind it: that our voice was missing from the board. Our current board has 3 people who are interpreters with deaf parents. 2 are deaf and 1 is hearing but that was not always the case. For many, many years there were no native voices on the rid board.
Brandon: You have recognized that IDP is not the only group within RID who may not feel that they have access to the decision making tables of the organization and by extension our field. That being said, to be told that you had a place at the table and then for that place to be taken away with the retraction must create an environment where there is little to no trust in the leadership of RID. How did the news that the referendum did not pass actually unfold for IDP? How were you notified?
Laurie: Well the announcement came out last Thursday. On Wednesday at 9pm, the 4 members of the IDP executive council, participated in a video conference call with President Prudhom and many members of the board of directors. On that call, we were told that there was a mistake made in determining the required number of votes needed to pass the referendum. The president somehow misunderstood that a 2/3 majority of the vote was required as opposed to the a simple majority she used to determine the initial passage of the referendum. Now you should know that during the drafting of this referendum it was clearly understood by everyone involved that a 2/3 majority vote was needed to pass. This referendum was a change in our bylaws and required a higher standard than other referendums. So, she seemingly made a mistake and erroneously informed Shane Feldman, the Executive Director of RID, and others that the referendum passed. We were told this late on Wednesday night and the announcement from the board was made Thursday. Obviously the RID board had already prepared their announcement and video and were ready to announce this to the membership. Hearing this news, we were floored and were at a loss on how were we to respond and we wondered how our members would respond to this announcement. We asked President Prudhom for some time to organize and coordinate a respond. They gave us a little time but by 3pm on Thursday, the announcement went out to the general membership. As a result, the IDP council was unable to prepare a coordinated response right away. Unfortunately RID went ahead with their announcement.
Brandon: So what would IDP like to have seen done differently in a situation like this in the future. If we as an organization have learned anything from this, it won’t happen again but if you could advise the board on how better to handle something like this, what would you ask them to do?
Laurie: Well…when we learned that the referendum did not in fact pass we were of course disappointed. Many people worked very hard on this referendum, however; it was compounded by the lack of checks and balances and the realization that RID made a mistake. We were left wondering, How could something like this happen? Is it possible that only one person is counting the vote? It was very hard to understand how this could have happened. We are collecting a vote on a referendum that impacts the bylaws of our organization. Not a business as usual item. These are the guiding rules of our organization, our bylaws. We were disappointed that the referendum did not pass but we could move on from there. Our disappointment was further exacerbated by this mishandling of the vote and our experience that this was also one more example in a series of blunders the membership has experienced from the RID board. We believe that the IDP membership should have received a personal apology. The president of RID made a general public apology to the membership; however, this motion held great significance to many people connected to IDP. This general apology did not recognize the significance of the referendum and did not recognize that many members had very strong connections to it. This fact seemed to be overlooked by the board of directors and I think that is just another example of perhaps a cultural disconnect from the membership. RID does have members of diverse backgrounds. President Prudhom’s manner of apology and announcement did not give enough attention to the significance of this referendum to members of IDP.
Brandon: Thank you. What do you hope the membership, the RID board of directors, and even the national office staff can learn from this situation?
Laurie: I wish they didn’t have to learn anything at all. I wish this didn’t have to be a learning experience for them to begin with. However, I think all members of RID, after seeing this; can agree that mistakes are consistently made within RID. This is not an isolated instance. I am not sure what kind of oversight may be needed and I am unsure how the board functions. For vote counting, do they work together? Who is responsible for vote collecting? How does it work when voting happens through the internet? There need to be safeguards in place to make sure this kind of thing ever happens. With a mistake of this magnitude, we all have to question how it came to be. I believe RID members have a right to know how this kind of mistake happened. It certainly shouldn’t have happened on such a large issue as the bylaws and leads us to wonder if this kind of mistake is allowed to happen, then what other mistakes are happening? I don’t want to get off the point here but we do need to wonder what is going on. I think the mistakes issue is not simply an IDP complaint. It is a systemic organizational and leadership problem that all of us have to be very concerned about.
Brandon: Clearly, you have said that representation at the decision making tables of our field is important to interpreters with deaf parents and other underserved groups. In considering the future of RID and perhaps the perspective of people seeing this interview, people who will see the passion that IDP has about this issue, what do you want them to know about your collective desire for more representation and collective diversity at the decision making tables of RID?
Laurie: I think for many IDP members there is a desire for our organization and our members to recognize that indeed many interpreters with deaf parents bring something unique to our field. We have a variety of deaf-world experiences that many if not most of our members within RID do not have. Each interpreter brings their unique set of life experiences to their work. The experiences of an someone who grew up in a deaf parented home instills the values and norms of the community in their work. Interpreters with deaf parents possess the ability to broker meaning in culturally appropriate ways. That is the value we need to have on the board. I think many of our members historically have felt those inherent skills have been negated in a systematic way within RID. On an individual level, interpreters with deaf parents have certainly felt valued by many colleagues but we feel this must be a integral part of the board. During the national conference in Atlanta in 2011, Dennis Cokely commented on the logo for the conference. The logo was a tree. On the stage at the business meeting, he pointed out that the tree was missing its roots. The roots have been missing for a very long time and It’s not just interpreters with deaf parents who feel this way. There are many people in our field, including leaders in our field, who believe that interpreters with deaf parents have something unique to offer. We recognize a unique skill at play but we believe that recognition of this skill needs to be an integral part of our national organization, RID. There may be talk about restructuring and changing the composition of the board. I think that may be a great idea but let’s work together to make it happen if the membership agrees that to be our goal. For now, the board structure is the way it is. We can work toward improvements but again with the kind of mistake that took place we have slipped back and the membership has lost faith once again.
Brandon: If you had the opportunity to send a message to the general membership and to IDP members what would you say about the desire to again reconnect with our roots?
Laurie: To the general membership, I think it is important for us to consider why we do what we do. If we claim to value the deaf community and value their norms and culture, if that indeed is what we are saying, then great. Let’s move on and do it in our actions and in our words. Live it. Show it. Prove it. And if not, then if people do not want to achieve that then why are we here talking about this? Why does RID even exist? We need to figure out our organizational purpose, values and goals. What we do is not just collecting a paycheck. For many of us our profession is not simply a job. Unfortunately for some it appears that they are here only to collect a paycheck and there is no authentic connection to the deaf community and certainly no investment. For those of us vested, it feels exploitative of those interpreters. We really need to figure out why we do the work we do. To IDP members, I think it is important to say that your hard work bringing this referendum forward and the progress that we made was successful in many ways. The discussion we are having now is also housed within a broader context. We have all had our individual discussions and experiences with each other and with our colleagues. We have also had our experiences discounted and shunned. It is time to move forward. We are now having a bigger discussion and this process is necessary in order for us to recover from the last 50 years.
Brandon: I really appreciate you being here with me today to lay out the issues. I hope this dialogue will help create some perspective for the people who are seeing all of the thoughts, emotion, and dissention on this issue. At the end of the day, I hope that as an organization we can keep our eyes on the mission of service. If we can dialogue with respect then we can move forward. Thank you for taking the time to be here today.
Laurie: I am happy to be here but I do want to add something if you don’t mind. I think it is important to emphasize that respectful dialogue is the key to moving forward. I encourage all members of RID be mindful of respecting each other as we move forward. Unfortunately, some public comments have been made that were not respectful and for many were insulting. If we truly want our field and our organization to recover we have to maintain a respectful dialogue. I hope we can all remember the person receiving the message when posting comments via any open forum. Keep it honest and respectful.
Brandon: StretLeverage.com we try to create an environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves so I can appreciate you bringing respect up. Laurie, thank you for your time. I appreciate you making time in your schedule for this discussion. I hope that this dialogue will help others who have wondered about the debate and differing opinions surrounding this referendum so that we can all move forward to a successful future. Thanks again.
Brandon Arthur interviews the newly appointed Executive Director of Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), Shane Feldman. It takes a special blend of skills to effectively run a large organization with a diversity of needs like RID. Shane shares how RID is working to restore confidence in the NIC test and how as the new Executive Director he will work to maintain the historical values of the field while preparing RID for the future. He also provided insight on his vision for the Government Affairs Program and what members can expect regarding communication with the national office.
“The other thing that has impressed me is our ancestry of volunteers and staff who have built a strong organization with core programs that include, certification, ethical practices system, continuing education, and advocacy.”
“…it seems there is a perception that RID isn’t attending to the members and isn’t interested. That is simply not true. We are listening and want the best for the membership.”
“Over many years, we have built a strong certification program that is reliable and valid. You asked how we restore confidence in this program? In my view the larger issue is that more people need to understand what is occurring within the certification program…”
“In the past, it was Codas and Deaf Community members that were the ones who develop practices within in the field. Is that still occurring today? If not, what are we doing to ensure we are focused on the relationship and partnership interpreters have with the Deaf Community and how to strengthen that?”
“Interpreters are important to me and to my connection to the world. We need to ensure the profession is valued.”
“Licensure will recognize interpreters as professionals. I will be sitting down with the new Director of Public Policy and Advocacy to discuss how to ensure that interpreters continue to be recognized as professionals.”
“I would ask that group back in 1964, do you believe that RID’s purpose is solely to serve the Deaf or to facilitate language between the Deaf world and the Hearing world? It would be my hope that this would help them make a determination to adjust the name to be more reflective of the organization.”
Shane H. Feldman, M.A., CAE
Shane Feldman serves as Executive Director of RID. Previously, he worked as COO of the NAD. Feldman has a distinguished history of civic advocacy for accessibility rights especially those related to closed-captioning, although he serves the community in several other areas including his work with VRS and the FCC, the Maryland Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Maryland School for the Deaf.
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Few sign language interpreters live without a smartphone or tablet. It’s probably hard for most of us to remember what life was like before we had the ability to manage the intersection of our work and personal lives with the swipe of a finger.
With the bazillions of apps out there, which ones are particularly useful for sign language interpreters? Below are 5 apps that may help you reclaim some of your sanity and be more productive in the process.
1. Leave Now
Tired of being “that interpreter?” Wish you knew exactly when to leave in order change your tardy ways? Wish no more. Leave Now will send an alert, which calculates for traffic delays, to your iOS device telling you exactly when to leave to be on time.
In the event you are going to be late, a single tap will send messages alerting people and giving them an ETA.
Find yourself regularly doing the repeat 20mph drive-by only to discover you are on wrong Washington St? Well, no more drives of shame for you. Google Maps gives you the classic transit directions, Street View, and most impressively voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation.
Google Maps will also give you nearby places to grab a bite.
Sheepish about busting out that spiral notebook crammed with old agendas, receipts and coupons in order to capture job details or dialogue with a team interpreter? You know who you are! Evernote allows you to easily capture everything from personal musings to critical billing information.
You can quickly browse, edit and search on the information captured and it conveniently syncs across all of your iOs devices.
Every superhero has their kryptonite. Do your powers of analyzing form, meaning and context go weak with the very thought of organizing and tracking expenses? Have no fear. Expensify makes it easy to record expenses and mileage as they occur, upload receipts by snapping a quick picture of them, and even track travel time.
Expensify generates reports with the tap of your finger and integrates with QuickBooks to make invoicing a breeze.
An oldie, but a goodie! Go ahead and get your virtual man hug on by exchanging information with a colleague by “bumping” your phone with theirs. Bump allows you to exchange your contact info, calendar events, social media profiles and more simply and easily.
This will save you time and the additional bloat of your spiral notebook.
The October 15, 2012 Public Notice released by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has sent another wave of distress crashing over top of the already apprehensive sign language interpreters working in support the nation’s Video Relay Service (VRS). As these interpreters, awash in the regulatory storm of VRS reform, reach out for the relationships, practices, and leadership that have anchored them in the past, they appear to find themselves largely alone in rough and rising waters.
It has been nearly 12 months since the FCC dropped it’s December 15, 2011 FNPRM seeking substantial comment on the structure and practices of the nation’s VRS program, the last in Docket 10-51. With that filing, I found myself wondering if there is anyone—individual or entity—positioned to successfully snatch sign language interpreters from these troubled waters by prevailing upon regulators with a solution that more centrally considers functional equivalency and the plight of the sign language interpreter who makes that possible.
The Latest Signal From the FCC
The October 15, 2012 Public Notice released by the FCC is an indication to VRS stakeholders (consumers, interpreters, providers, educators, and industry associations) of it’s consideration of the TRS Fund Administrator’s (RLSA) October 15, 2012 Supplemental Filing, which proposes a transition to a cost-based model of reimbursement, resulting in deep cuts to the per minute reimbursement rate.
The RLSA proposes an immediate reduction of 11-15% to the rates paid to providers, with further reductions to follow in subsequent years. The aim being to move reimbursement rates towards the “weighted average cost per minute” of $3.51, as calculated by RLSA. The “initial” cut proposed, or something similar that the FCC ultimately approves, is likely to occur soon after the first of the year.
Unfortunately, for VRS users, sign language interpreters and providers, the targeted average cost of $3.51 per minute is 31%-44% below the current tiered reimbursement rates, which range from $6.24-$5.07 per minute. Adoption of a cost-based model and significant cuts to the current reimbursement rate will only intensify the impact of the reform on VRS users and sign language interpreters working to deliver it.
What’s the Impact?
In response to the December 15, 2011 FCC FNPRM referenced above, I wrote, Will Sign Language Interpreters Remain Silent on FCC VRS Reform? In that post I stated that should VRS reform occur without specific recognition for the cost and commitment of employing certified interpreters via a reimbursement rate differential, it would serve a damaging blow to the longevity of employing credentialed, qualified interpreters in VRS settings.
I offered then, and still believe, that the practical impacts of this fundamental failure are largely twofold:
1. The ultimate compromise of the functional equivalency of VRS.
Should the proposed rate reduction occur, providers would be forced to make fundamental shifts in their businesses in order to survive. As stated in my post referenced above, some of these shifts will almost certainly include to amp up performance expectations, decrease wages, and hire less-qualified practitioners in order to find cost savings. The necessity of being more efficient will result in an erosion of the quality, and therefore the functional equivalency, of VRS.
2. The destabilization of the sign language interpreting profession.
The cost pressures will inevitably be too much for the smallest of the handful of providers remaining today. As such, the sign language interpreting industry will continue to see a consolidation of opportunity. This consolidation and the tremendous pressure to be efficient will result in fewer opportunities for credentialed, qualified interpreters to work in VRS settings.
The natural consequence of this declining opportunity will be an imbalance in the industry’s supply (excess number of qualified, credentialed interpreters looking for work) vs. demand (organizations and agencies seeking to hire interpreters) equation. With a greater number of sign language interpreters competing for decreasing opportunity a dog-eat-dog erosion of the best practices—designed to protect the accuracy of an interpreter’s work and their very health and wellbeing—will ensue.
In my view, the results of this supply vs. demand imbalance and the erosion of best practices will also impact interpreters working in Community settings. With rates and opportunity decreasing in VRS, the more highly qualified interpreters will start competing for Community work, which will lead to reducing rates for community work.
Again, adoption of a cost based approach to rate setting and deep rate cuts, as proposed by RSLA, will only accelerate the impact of this reform on D/deaf and Hard-of-Hearing users of the service and sign language interpreters working to deliver it.
A Call for Heroes and Heroines
At this point, sign language interpreters need someone—individual or entity—with the expertise and resources willing to wade into the rough water. Interpreters need someone willing to demonstrate that the work they do is central to the meaning of functional equivalency. Further, that an interpreter’s continued commitment to their craft and profession is fundamental to the interests and success of all VRS stakeholders.
Unfortunately, the FCC’s mistrust of providers; their perception that providers are motivated by self-interest when advocating for interpreters; and the resource challenge historically faced by industry associations to organize and mobilize support, will likely continue to leave sign language interpreters awash in the reform.
Will anyone wade in and extend a hand to the sign language interpreter?
There will be no caped crusader, individual or entity.
Clearly, the FCC’s disposition relative to providers and cost-reduction won’t change quickly enough to position them to help. Industry associations will not suddenly find themselves with lined coffers and new infrastructure to organize and mobilize meaningful support. Sadly, the remaining VRS stakeholders will serve only to amplify the volume of the shouting and cross-direction offered regarding how and where sign language interpreters can find their footing and protect their interests in the reform.
Is there any hope?
Survival is Up to Us!
We need to empower ourselves in order to survive!
Given the regulatory and economic environment and the relative progress of the reform, we must be organized, disciplined, and consistent. We need to ensure that the FCC understands the challenged position of the sign language interpreter in the reform and the responsibility they have to the human performance side of the VRS system.
What should we do?
Mobilize. Mobilize! Mobilize!!
In order to be recognized by the FCC, we are left with little choice but to muster our own motility.
It is important to note that we have until November 14th to file comment on the proposed rate structure—then an opportunity to file again prior to November 29th. Please follow the guidelines and remember that you are submitting comment on a public forum. Post responses from a solution orientation.
Join me in advocating for the future of our collective quality of life by filing comment?
We need to enroll, prod if necessary, all those that share an interest in the functional equivalency of VRS. We need to request that they stand up and take action now. We need to place calls to each and every VRS stakeholders and communicate our expectation that they join in the effort.
Let’s not forget that our Senators and Congressional Representatives are also our partners. We should be sending them letters as well seeking their support.
We should not assume that anyone is standing with us until they are.
3. Petitions of Support
It is essential to demonstrate the impact of the reform on everyone touched by VRS. While friends and family members may not be inclined to file public comment, we should encourage them and all our colleagues to sign petitions in support of a rate differential for certified interpreters in order to protect functional equivalency.
Sign and forward this petition of support to get the ball rolling.
4. Rally at the FCC
While it may be considered a tactic of the past, civil disobedience in the form of a rally would go far in gaining the attention of the FCC. Let’s be prepared to employ this tactic if it becomes necessary to convince the FCC that we do not intend to be a quiet casualty of the reform.
While I am not familiar with what it takes to organize a rally, I am certainly willing to help. Anyone interested in helping to organize an effort? If yes, you can Facebook me here.
B. Social Media Blitz. Organize an effort to bring VRS stakeholders together to talk about the impact of the proposed rate reduction on functional equivalency and the ability to hire certified interpreters. Publish the interviews widely.
Interested in helping to organize and coordinate an effort? Know a graphic designer or videographer? If yes, you can Facebook me here.
6. Friends of the Sign Language Interpreter—Political Action Fund
In my mind, it is necessary for sign language interpreters to create and contribute to a fund to lobby congress and the FCC. This will position sign language interpreters to have an independent voice that is free from the politics, economic implications, inexperience and mistrust that has to date prevented interpreters from finding their footing.
Is someone familiar with setting up this type of thing? I have some ideas, but experience would speed up the effort. Interested in organizing, coordinating, and/or donating to the effort? If yes, Facebook me here.
Interested in donating to the effort? Facebook me and I will provide updates if we can get something set up.
Let’s Be Careful
While this is in fact a survival activity, it is important to maintain a level of respect for other VRS stakeholders. By maintaining respect, we are better able to thoughtfully consider how to best achieve our ambitions while maintaining relationships with our partners. It is essential that we remember that this isn’t a zero sum proposition. Each VRS stakeholder can be successful if we remember that every action has a reaction.
In addition to maintaining respect, we would do well to avoid the following:
1. Knee Jerk Reactions.
We should not give control at the discussion table to anyone but us. Our partners haven’t done well representing our interests at the FCC. It is time for us to marshal our collective genius and do the dirty work we have avoided to date.
2. Creating Inertia.
Placing the field or ourselves in a position that limits our ability to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing environment.
3. Avoid Unionization.
We should not unionize. No one can better articulate the impacts of VRS reform without consideration for human performance than the sign language interpreter. Let’s set up a political action fund and do a more effective job without the long-term damage to the ability sign language interpreters have to represent themselves. Not to mention the time period for effective action on VRS rate reform is far too short for such an effort to be successful.
4. Making it About the Money.
Avoid conversation about this being about money for the sign language interpreter. This is about pushing the FCC to recognize what it takes to offer a functionally equivalent service and the commitment interpreters make to their consumers and careers by pursuing certification.
This is urgent. We are nearly out of time to impact real change.
Let’s avoid engaging in actions that contribute to the erosion of the trust needed for consumers, interpreters, providers, industry associations and the FCC to navigate the reform to positive ends.
While it can be uncomfortable to be faced with the pace of continued change in VRS regulation, let’ not allow our own paralysis to enable the careless treatment of functional equivalency and the devaluation of the credentials and contributions of the sign language interpreter, to go on without adamant opposition.
At the end of the day, our survival in the reform depends on us. If you value your profession, the definition under which you do you work, and the diversity VRS brings sign language interpreting industry, you too have an interest in making your voice heard at the FCC.
While it appears that the FCC is prepared for an acceptable number of casualties in the name of efficiency, will you allow sign language interpreters be found among them?