Social Justice: A New Model of Practice for Sign Language Interpreters?
The presentation covers the roles and values of social justice as key components in the interpreting field. Drawing on a transformational leadership style, sign language interpreters engage participants in new ways. The presentation will highlight issues which result from transactional leadership exchanges with marginalized individuals. The first will be the link between interpreters’ ability to reestablish connections with community members and Deaf individuals’ autonomy. The second will be to explore the roots for social justice as a means to build a community where people are no longer kept quiet.
Please take opportunity to dialogue with Dave on these topics prior to the event by submitting comments below.
Workshop | Transformational Leadership: Working Toward a Social Justice Model for Sign Language Interpreters
All sign language interpreters inhabit leadership positions of some kind in their work, regardless of whether these expressions of leadership readily meet traditional definitions. Interpreters acting on the basis of social justice, actively work on aligning themselves (as part of the interpreting community) with Deaf and hearing participants. Interpreters in this position can positively impact (e.g., bridge gaps, and enhance lives) individuals who possess two very different understandings of the world. Interpreters through a lens of social justice can learn how to become growth-oriented practitioners and leaders. Workshop participants will carry with them new skills. First, they will learn to identify undesirable practices and how to work toward adopting social justice skill sets that will leave them open to creative and courageous solutions. Second, they can inspire others to collaborate, and third, work toward dismantling systems of privilege and oppression while sustaining respect and trust of those they serve. As we move forward by positively impacting lives, let us realign our collective social justice values with Deaf community members and bring back interlocutors’ autonomy.
Marginalization Within the Sign Language Interpreting Profession: Where Is the Deaf Perspective?
The intersectional dynamic between the deaf and the interpreting communities has literally been lost in translation amid dramatic and still-evolving changes within the profession of sign language interpreting. Also missing in action are deaf persons who have been marginalized by the interpreting community and not recognized for their contributions to the advancement of the profession during its early years and over the last several decades, to the present time.
Please take the opportunity to dialogue with Nancy on these topics prior to the event by submitting comments below.
Workshop | Transforming the Profession of Sign Language Interpreting: Bringing Back the Deaf Heart
This session will examine how the Deaf Gain perspective can dramatically transform the profession, noting the historical contributions of deaf persons from early on to the present time. Bringing back the Deaf Heart requires the active participation by deaf people on all levels – ranging from interpreter education, ethics, certification, testing and professional development, national and regional RID board service, research, mentorship, teaming with deaf interpreters, interpreter services provision and lastly, to joint efforts by the deaf and interpreting communities. Workshop participants will learn the social justice benefits of recognizing, welcoming and actively involving deaf persons throughout all aspects of the profession – and the importance of acting on such knowledge by transforming the current economic, political and cultural paradigm to reflect Deaf Heart values, beliefs and practices. Such a paradigm shift would have a far-reaching, positive and lasting impact on the intersectional dynamic between the deaf and the interpreting communities.
Wing presented, Onsite Sign Language Interpreters Face Extinction, at StreetLeverage – Live. His talk examined the legislation and technology developments of the 90’s that defined the values of the sign language interpreters in the “Onsite Era” and how these values are now being replaced by the values of a “Virtual Presence Era.” Wing suggested that the iterative realignment of these values leaves sign language interpreters vulnerable to a number of dangerous pitfalls.
In 1990 I was 15 years old. It was then I realized my parents were truly deaf. Until then, I thought they held a deaf facade to cover up their true “hearing” identity. I began to test the boundaries between my parent and my inner child. After testing their hearing abilities I settled on the fact they were indeed deaf. Immediately, I picked up a collection of pitchforks, grew horns and even a tail! The ultimate moment of rebellion came when I conspired with my hearing friends to meet at a neighbor’s mailbox late at night to cause mischief. When the time came, I successfully, slowly, and quietly, turned the door knob to escape out of the house. Running towards the flickering flashlights I was stopped by a low and dull roar, “Wing, come home!” Flashlights scattered into the bushes and I returned to meet the source of interruption. There standing in the door way was my angry father. I betrayed him, took advantage of him, and he had plenty to say about it. In a split moment of pause in his whirling signs, I asked “How did you know?” He responded, “I felt the pressure of the house change” (or the “puff”).
You know how when you open the door you see the curtains move ever so slightly, or the windows and pictures on the walls move ever so slightly? My father felt the “puff.”
Through this experience, I’m more aware that most of what we experience in life is a result of moments in time that have occurred far away from us; nonetheless we can feel the moment of change if we’re sensitive to it.
Whether we were paying attention or not, sign language interpreters experienced their own evolutionary “puff” moment in 2002, which began the slow extinction of the on-site interpreter. Not the physical appearance of an interpreter to an assignment, but more the delicate social ecosystem and the values that drive it. We moved from an on-site interpreting era to virtual presence era.
Standing On the Shoulders of Interpreter and Technology Pioneers
Several years before the interpreting industry’s evolutionary shift, I was walking through the halls of my local college. I spotted a simple sign written with marker, “Sign Language Interpreters Needed.” With only “Coda” as my credential, I was hired on the spot. What I thought was innate talent and unique brilliance, gave way to common sense and even compelled humility, thanks to the pioneers and builders of the interpreting profession who were bold enough to share with me the legacy of our interpreting community. I was the benefactor of a series of events and individual efforts, a “Big Bang” which caused a positive set of career oriented circumstances. In my article, “Interprenomics: a decoder ring for sign language interpreters” I identify the series of primary events that are responsible for the evolutionary foundations of the sign language interpreting economy—the formation of the sign language interpreting industry. I see them as follows:
Founding of Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID): The beginning of professional standards, practices, and certification for sign language interpreters.
Enacting of Federal Laws: The Education of the Deaf Act (1986), The Rehabilitation Act (1973), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Reauthorization 1997), Americans with Disabilities Act (1990).These laws embedded the role of the sign language interpreter in mainstream America.
Reimbursement of Video Relay Services: In 2002the U.S.FCC begins the reimbursement of interstate VRS providers via the interstate TRS fund.
Meanwhile another “big bang” was occurring. The roots of technology were moving across America. Most of the web technology we experience today came about from developments from the 90’s.
Introduction of the Internet: On the heels of IBM’s PC and Microsoft’s Operating System the internet goes public in 1990. Netscape creates a point and click browser and gives it away.
Fortune 500 and Startups Go Virtual: 1995 – 1998 gave birth to Amazon.com, Google.com, and Disney. The amount of users on the network at this time 300 million only to grow to 1.1+ Billion today.
The Moment Everything Changed
While the transition from an onsite era to a virtual presence era from a historical perspective is beneficial, some interpreters missed the subtle change in values that drive the work. You see, while we were all enjoying rising pay, unprecedented demand for our services, legislative protection of our profession, technology began to unravel the foundations of our young profession, “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”
During the onsite era the delicate ecosystem/economy of sign language interpreting sought to keep Deaf-centric values at the heart of the work. And as Lynette Taylor mentions in her Street Leverage Live presentation “The Modern Questor: Connecting the Past to the Future of the Field,” she suggest that the interpreting industry moved from a Deaf-centric locus of power to an interpreter centric locus of power during the rise of interpreter related legislation. She also suggests that our work is moving away from Deaf values, and the interpreting industry has made a shift to a market-centric locus of power. Examples include:
Technology Meets Interpreting: 2002 FCC Sponsors VRS and in 2003 Sorenson develops VP-100 as first to market, in which many companies follow.
The Interpreter’s Evolutionary Traps
2002 marks the erosion of on-site interpreter era values. The collision of interpreter values with technological advances and the increased adoption of production oriented values has decoupled the relational aspects of an interpreter’s art from the work of interpreting. While the erosion is more readily viewable in the VRS industry, there is no safe-haven as information age efficiencies (Outsourcing, Digitizing and Automation) seek to change our world. Consider the office receptionist and the phone tree.
Outsourcing: The idea that the quality of work done locally can be transferred to another location (not necessarily off shore) that favors lower labor rates, and equal or better quality.
Digitizing: The transference of “flesh and blood” activities/work into bits of data.
Automation: Once assets are digitized, the effort to duplicate the data is near effortless.
The Evolution of Values
When considering virtual world traps we can’t ignore the casualties of onsite era values. While terms like relational, artist, professional services model, and quality are all value descriptors for the onsite interpreter, it is the “Deaf heart” that begins to fade within our work. This loss is only galvanized by the traps spoken of previously.
This evolution is only intensified as the sign language interpreting industry introduces “Millennial” interpreters, generations apart from the foundation building “Boomer” interpreter. Consider a millennial interpreter’s perception of technology and the impact, or not, in their everyday work.
Onsite Era Values
Professional Services Model
Quality = Certified
Specialty Skillsets (Legal, Medical, etc)
Success through reciprocity
Virtual Presence Era Values
Quality = Qualified
1 Skill Fits All
Success through statistical performance
Non-negotiable rate & fixed value
The Next 50 Years – Become Untouchable
Certainly technology isn’t going away, nor will its progression subside. Therefore, information age traps will remain, and technology will exponentially become a powerful vortex aimed at the onsite interpreter. While technology may change how we access the work, our industry doesn’t have to fall victim to digital era traps. In order to avoid extinction interpreters must become untouchable by becoming one of these three; “special” or specialized in the work, “anchored” to a location, and constantly re-skilling your brand. I know many interpreters who experience this protection now. Notwithstanding, this doesn’t answer the industry problem.
How does the sign language interpreting industry preserve onsite era values? Or better, Deaf-centric values? I’d like to recommend 5 essential keys for any interpreter or interpreting organization to evolve successfully in the information age.
1- Protect Value of Certification.
Without certification we have nothing.
2- Collaboration with Partners.
Synergy with government, consumer, and employer partners creates value to the industry. Does the interpreter or interpreting organization have direct relationships with State, private sector stakeholders and Deaf organization heads? Is there enough synergy to negotiate transactions on behalf of the industry?
3- Synthesize Leadership.
Identify interpreters with leadership talent, infuse them with the interpreting industry’s legacy, and ignite passion in them by empowering them to build relationships that support growth objectives.
4- Create Learning Culture.
Participate in sharing knowledge, wisdom and experience between boomer interpreters and millennial interpreters. Leverage Generation X and Y to facilitate understanding. Value experienced mentors and add to the value of their work.
5- Become a Media Company.
Use technology to amplify the voice of the interpreter. Organizations that represent interpreters will need to embrace web 3.0 realities by seeing themselves as a media and content marketer. Broadcasting not only provides transparency and leverages crowd sourcing towards a meaningful movement, but is a valuable tool to building unity, identity and relationships. Broadcast cheaply, regularly and often.
Certainly you have your own ideas? I’d like to hear them.
>> To see slides from Wing’s presentation click here.
Trudy presented, Deaf Disempowerment and Today’s Interpreter, at StreetLeverage – Live. Her talk examined how the choices sign language interpreters make while delivering communication access can, and often do, contribute to the economic and situational disempowerment of deaf people.
Deaf Disempowerment and Today’s Interpreter
In the spirit of being transparent, the stories I’m about to share might be uncomfortable for some of you. While I would like to speak my truth, I recognize that you have your own truth as well. I trust that you will evaluate the stories I share and recognize the value in them. I actually was, and am, reluctant about presenting today because like many deaf people who speak out, I’ve had to endure a lot of negative feedback for being a “strong personality,” “angry deaf person,” and so on. My goal today is for you, as interpreters, to be open to possibly uncomfortable topics, uncomfortable truths, and uncomfortable analyses—whether they apply to you or not.
I believe that the best way to become bona fide allies is to embrace difficult ideas, opinions and, yes, facts. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together.
Four weeks ago, my two-year-old son fell and broke his leg. A week later, I took him, along with my one-year-old, to the orthopedic doctor for a check-up. Now, I live in a town where there are 250 to 300 deaf people living among 23,000 people; we have the deaf school, so everyone knows how to sign or how to work with interpreters. After about 45 minutes of waiting in the lobby—very unusual for a town of this size—I asked the receptionist about the severe delay. The receptionist never once looked up from her computer, saying that the doctor was backed up. I asked if we could see the doctor since my children were restless, hungry and my son, in a body cast from chest to toe, needed his medicine—which was at home. She said no. I said, “Could you please speak to the doctor or nurse?” She replied, “Oh, no, I can’t do that,” and I repeated my request. She adamantly refused.
I finally said, “Could you please look at me?” She looked at the interpreter, and I said, “No, at me.” Once she did, I asked, “Could you please offer a resolution? We’ve been here an hour.” At that very moment, my baby began crying, and the receptionist finally realized the extent of my situation. A nurse came out who was far more courteous and apologetic. After we talked about the delay, I asked how I could make a complaint about the receptionist.
A few minutes later, the receptionist called the interpreter over, saying the interpreter had a phone call. The interpreter answered the phone, and realized it was the office manager calling for me. All this time, the receptionist was looking at me with dagger eyes. The office manager began asking questions. I explained that I wasn’t comfortable talking about the situation because the receptionist was listening in. The office manager reassured me she’d be in touch. As I returned to my seat, I realized the interpreter was still by the front desk. I looked back and saw her cover her mouth as she whispered to the receptionist. When she came back to where we were sitting, I asked what she had said to the receptionist.
“I saw you whisper to her, what did you say?”
“No, I saw you whisper. What was it about?”
She relented and said, “Uh, she began apologizing to me for her behavior, and said she didn’t mean to talk to you like that. I told her it was okay.”
“But it isn’t okay how she treated me. Why didn’t you tell her to apologize directly to me?”
I could see the realization of her mistake dawn over her face. Just then, we were called into the examination room and the appointment was over fairly quickly.
Such a simple act of trying to mediate a situation—when she really didn’t have the right to—became situational disempowerment. Had she been in my shoes, would she have told the receptionist it was okay? I don’t know. Mind you, I would absolutely work with this interpreter again. Still, the experience led me to think about disempowerment.
Let’s take a quick look at the word disempowerment. The word has quite a simple definition for such a powerful concept: to take away power.
As interpreters, you have a very delicate line to walk on the job. You have to figure out how to mediate culture, conflicts, personalities, and a million other things all at the same time as interpreting. I won’t go into theoretical mumbo-jumbo about that because you already know this. I will, however, share my experiences as a person who comes from a family of at least 600 combined years of experience in the deaf community, as a mother to four deaf children, and as someone who is supposedly at the center of the deaf community. I also work as a certified deaf interpreter, and have grown up always believing that the deaf community and the hearing community are really not all that much different—even if there are worlds of differences in so many ways.
There are two types of disempowerment discussed throughout today’s talk and workshop, both interconnected: situational disempowerment and economic disempowerment.
For another example of situational disempowerment, let’s go back to when I was 13 years old. I went to a public high school that had 80 deaf students and 8 full-time interpreters. I took a theater course with three other deaf students and maybe 25 hearing students; it was interpreted by one of the better interpreters. She criticized my signing every single day, saying that I signed too fast and too “ASL.” She even went as far as voicing gibberish if she didn’t understand me—at fast speeds to mimic my signing speed—and this would cause the hearing students and teacher to break out in laughter.
For an extremely insecure teenager struggling with her identity, having attention called to her like this was beyond horrifying. This was humiliation, pure and simple. The interpreter, to cover up her lack of fluency, purposefully disempowered me. Even today, I momentarily revert to that 13-year-old whenever someone says I sign too fast—which, by the way, a deaf person has never said to me. Interpreters should be accountable for their lack of fluency and not put this on the deaf person’s shoulders.
Every interpreter’s goal should be to ensure communication access, not disempowerment in any form. To take away a deaf person’s power, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is unacceptable. With that in mind, there is another way deaf people can be disempowered—and that’s financially.
As we all know, there are people who do take advantage of the deaf community. History has shown this time after time, ranging from pretending to be deaf and peddling ABC cards to trying to get out of tickets or charges. Back in 1997, I uncovered one of the most bizarre stories I’ve ever come across. While we’ll discuss this more in my workshop, it is a long, strange tale with so many twists and turns. This really happened. This isn’t fiction.
In 1997, Saturn, the car corporation, ran a series of advertisements both on television and in print. This ad campaign was called its Real People, Real Cars campaign—and featured actual owners, not actors, in its ads. I need to say that one more time: the people in the ads were actual owners. Not actors.
One of the owners was Holly Daniel, who posed as a deaf person. When I saw the televised advertisement, I immediately knew she wasn’t deaf. I called the car company, and a representative there insisted she was deaf. That’s when I learned that it was a campaign featuring actual owners. After a serendipitous series of events—including a lot of backlash from people who were angry that I would be so nitpicky— I got a tip from someone that this woman was an educational interpreter and not deaf.
When I talked with Holly about the claims that she was hearing, she responded that she was deaf, but she had a twin sister who was hearing, and that was what was causing the confusion. She even faxed me falsified birth certificates. After many odd incidents, she finally came clean. I later found out that she had pretended to be deaf for up to two years before the advertisement—so she didn’t do it for the money alone.
Speaking of money—she was to get $75,000 for the ad campaign. She ended up only getting $10,000—and the car company decided not to pursue legal action because that would have cost more. She’s still working as an interpreter and has never apologized to the community for what she did.
So things like this do happen—all the time.
Even if the Holly Daniel story is an extreme example, it happens in so many ways. Power follows money. When people make money off deaf people, deaf culture, and ASL, this can easily lead to disempowerment and have ripple effects.
Take ASL teaching. There are thousands of ASL teachers. Guess how many are deaf? No real statistics exist on this. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of certified Baby Sign Language instructors. How many are deaf? Your guess is as good as mine. I contacted the company that certifies instructors; it wouldn’t respond to my requests. I’ll say probably a very, very small percentage. There are about 20, maybe more, Deaf Studies programs at colleges and universities across the nation. Are all the program directors deaf? No. What’s wrong with this picture?
One of the more common responses when I ask why a deaf person isn’t at the helm of a program or agency working with deaf and hard of hearing people is, “We advertised the position and couldn’t find anyone qualified.” That certainly could be the case. Still, I say hogwash. Such situations lead to economic disempowerment and its ripple effects: deaf people aren’t hired, and those outside of the deaf community continue to have beliefs and perceptions shaped by hearing people.
If no qualified deaf person applies for that position, then there needs to be a short-term and long-term remedy. One solution is to keep the position open for as long as possible until someone who is qualified and deaf is hired. Another possible solution is to have an interim director in place, hire someone who is definitely capable of doing the job—and train that person until she or he is ready to take the helms. Is that costly and cumbersome? Perhaps. Cost-beneficial and cost-effective in the long run? Absolutely. This is one of many ways we can help boost deaf economics.
I first heard the term deaf economics when I interviewed DeafNation’s CEO Joel Barish for an article. He said that it’s extremely important to support deaf owners:
“. . .with more people supporting deaf businesses, there will be more job opportunities for deaf people because deaf business owners are more likely to hire deaf people more than anyone else. As a result, they can empower each other by working together or supporting each other. At the same time, with this support, visibility and networking will grow beyond the deaf community into the hearing community. It’s unfortunate that many people can’t see the bigger picture and will only chase the cheapest rates or prices instead of supporting deaf-owned businesses.”
With today’s dismal unemployment rates, we know deaf people are among the most underemployed people. Yet interpreting is one of the fastest-growing professions, largely in part because of laws requiring communication access, but it’s also because ASL is now an awesome thing to know, a cool language. Even though it has gained recognition as an actual, stand-alone language, it continues to be mocked by so many entities. We’ve all heard of the recent Lydia Callis spoofs on the Chelsea Handler show and even Saturday Night Live. While I understand Lydia’s general refusal to speak to reporters aside from the one interview I saw, I wish she could tell reporters to talk to deaf people. That would be incredibly refreshing.
I remember sitting by the pool at the 2001 RID conference in Orlando. I was with an interpreter friend, and I looked around. Interpreters surrounded us, and I said, “Wow. Everyone here is making money off my language.” She giggled, and then shushed me, saying, “Don’t say that! You’ll piss them off!”
Years later, as I remembered that conversation, I wondered why I shouldn’t have said that if it was the truth. ASL is a wealthy language not only in its contents, but also in its moneymaking opportunities.
Don’t think this is an attack on hearing people. It isn’t. After all, I, like many others, make money off my languages of ASL and English. I run a writing company that specializes in both ASL and English. I work as a certified deaf interpreter. I teach ASL and English. I train interpreters. So I have absolutely no issue with making money off any language—as long as the goal isn’t to make money, but to really share the culture and language, and to encourage genuine language acquisition.
So why do so many interpreters, mentors, rehabilitation professionals, ASL teachers, and others bristle at the idea that they’re making money off ASL? Maybe because it’s a harsh way to look at their professions. Perhaps if we face the truth, and say, “Yes, we do make money off ASL,” that’ll help us gain greater appreciation of the responsibilities that accompany the language and culture.
Even so, what is more important—to me, at least—is to understand how we can be allies in such challenging situations. How do we come together to prevent disempowerment in any form or shape? As interpreters, and as consumers, we can become aware of disempowerment, particularly situational disempowerment and how we often participate by accident or decisively. By actively resisting the almost automatic temptations of empathizing with hearing consumers—or even deaf consumers—we can minimize, even eliminate, potential disempowerment. By refusing to control situations, by deferring to the deaf person whenever appropriate, by allowing the consumers to control the situation, and by ensuring that you don’t speak on behalf of the entire deaf community especially if you’re hearing—you can take steps towards ensuring that deaf people retain their power while you do your job. Through supporting deaf businesses and agencies, operate under the assumption that a qualified deaf person should be the automatic choice—and if this isn’t the case, be among the first to question why not.
Another approach is to always analyze why something happened, and not instinctively blame it on the deaf consumer, however educated or uneducated he may be. Look at all the factors involved. Analyze whether or not the consumers felt as if they had full communication access. For many deaf people, a trigger point is losing communication access.
The bottom line is we must always strive to ensure that each culture and community is maintained and preserved by its very core, which in this situation are deaf people. However, we must also be careful to remember that if a deaf person expresses frustration at disempowerment, it doesn’t necessarily mean she or he is angry, divisive or separatist. Rather, take a look at the situation, and figure out how, if at all, you or other interpreters might have contributed to the situation. Support deaf businesses, services and events. If a job opportunity comes up, see if it would be best filled by a deaf person. If no deaf person is available, figure out how to ensure that a deaf person could be brought in.
Of course, your primary responsibility as interpreters is language facilitation and cultural mediation. But we must remember that all individuals, deaf or hearing, should always strive for full, mutual respect rather than disempowerment.
What do projectile vomiting, cancelled and delayed flights, and an unrelenting Nor’easter have in common? StreetLeverage—Live. As anyone who has organized a live event will tell you, there are always unforeseen challenges that arise and StreetLeverage—Live had its fair share. Despite these challenges, the event was a success.
I salute Nigel Howard, Trudy Suggs, Lynette Taylor, and Wing Butler, the inaugural speakers of StreetLeverage—Live, for their commitment to the field and its next evolution, the courage to openly share their big ideas, and the considerable effort made to effectively pack these ideas into a concise 20-ish minute talk. No small task to be sure. These independent thinkers are people who require more of themselves, those around them, and of the status quo.
Nigel, Trudy, Lynnette and Wing, you guys killed it! Nicely done.
Nigel presented, Deaf Interpreters: The State of Inclusion. His talk explored some of the perceptions that challenge better integration of deaf interpreters into the field and into daily practice. Most notably, the perception that ASL-English interpreters have that requesting to work with a deaf interpreter is an indication of an inferior skill-set.
Additionally, he highlighted that the definitions ASL-English and deaf interpreters hold of each other, correct or not, is the basis of their effectiveness working together and that both have equal responsibility for the processing of information and outcome of the communication.
Finally, Nigel offered that there is a need to broaden the view of how and why deaf interpreters are used in order to improve their inclusion and contribution to the field.
Trudy presented, Deaf Disempowerment and Today’s Interpreter. Her talk examined how the choices sign language interpreters make while delivering communication access can, and often do, contribute to the economic and situational disempowerment of deaf people.
Trudy offered that interpreters can avoid stripping power from those they work with, and the broader Deaf community, by remembering who are the owners of the communication. Further, that it is essential to defer to these owners and Deaf community representatives rather than speak on their behalf. Additionally, that true empowerment begins when a consciousness is achieved that results in the referring of opportunity to back to the Deaf community.
Finally, she offered that anything less than full and mutual respect, regardless of the situation and/or opportunity at stake, is a failure to support true empowerment.
Lynnette offered that the elimination of these agencies and places of gathering is resulting in the disappearance of the stories and storytellers that serve to connect the two communities—and practitioners to each other—through a common understanding of the struggles and sacrifices known, victories achieved, and destination aimed for.
Finally, she suggested that without this common bond and shared understanding of history, sign language interpreters are left adrift—powerless against the definitions imposed upon them and their work.
Wing presented, Onsite Sign Language Interpreters Face Extinction. His talk examined the legislation and technology developments of the 90’s that defined the values of the “Onsite Era” and how these values are now being replaced by the values of a “Virtual Presence Era.”
He offered that some of the key values of the Onsite Era that are being replaced are, a relational approach to the work, interpreters are service professionals, quality means certified, specialty skill-sets and individual representation are valuable, and success is achieved through reciprocity.
Wing suggested that the iterative realignment of these values leaves sign language interpreters vulnerable to a number of dangerous pitfalls. Pitfalls that can be avoided by working to protect the value of certification, collaborating with industry partners, preparing the leaders of the future, and leveraging technology to create a learning culture within the field.
A Giant Thank You
I would like to thank Access Interpreting for being the Thought Leadership Sponsor of the PCRID conference. Their leadership and support was directly responsible for making the inaugural StreetLeverage–Live event possible.
Lyle, Brad, and Ryan, thanks for your vision and generosity in giving back to the field. asdfasdf
I would like to offer my thanks to the PCRID conference co-chairs, Josh Hughes and Jennifer Bell and the PCRID Board for their support of StreetLeverage and live thought leadership at the conference. You all did a great job.
Thanks to the many people who actively participated in the event. It was your engagement and shared insight that multiplied, exponentially, the value of the speakers sharing their ideas and perspectives.
What quickly became obvious during the event is that there is an interest in openly discussing the developments and forces at play within the field in a live, real-time environment.
Let us collectively consider how we can personally work to include our deaf interpreter counterparts, avoid disempowering those we serve, find ways to share our collective stories, and avoid the pitfalls before us as our field continues to evolve.
Be on the lookout, as videos for each of the talks will be individually released on StreetLeverage.com in future.
Have a question for Nigel, Trudy, Lynnette, and/or Wing? Ask away!
As most sign language interpreters will readily admit, much of the meaningful dialogue they have on the developments within the field occur at the water coolers of the profession—“small talk” sessions with a colleague.
If you are reading this post, you are likely aware, that it is the plight of StreetLeverage to offer interpreters a platform to elevate these conversations into the broader consciousness of the industry.
Underneath the Imperfection
This isn’t news to anyone, but the work occurring with StreetLeverage to amplify these conversations isn’t a perfect work. If you look, not particularly hard, you will find typos, incorrectly sized images, grammatical mistakes, questionable video quality and the like.
Having said that, if you look beyond the platform and it’s imperfection you will find something special; the authentic desire sign language interpreters have to share and genuinely dialogue to the betterment of their field.
This desire leads people to give freely of their time to write articles and initiate and enrich discussions by adding perspective and experience.
These contributions are remarkable.
StreetLeverage – Live
In an effort to honor this authentic desire and extend the platform available to interpreters to dialogue on topics and ideas relevant to the field, I am please to announce the second phase of StreetLeverage, StreetLeverage – Live.
StreetLeverage – Live is a thought leadership event designed to bring together industry visionaries, leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and practitioners to share ideas that foster proactive thinking and dialogue in order to propel the field of sign language interpreting forward.
How Does it Work?
The StreetLeverage – Live main session is modeled after the TED speaker series. Meaning, attendees will be engaged by a series of speakers, topics, and live dialogue in a single primary session.
Following the main session, speakers will present concurrent sessions. These sessions will be a deeper dive of a speaker’s main session talk.
I am excited to share that the inaugural StreetLeverage – Live event is scheduled to occur November 10, 2012. The event has been embedded within the PCRID annual conference being held November 9 – 11, 2012. Click here for details.
I would like to offer my appreciation for Josh Hughes and Jennifer Bell, PCRID Conference Chairs, and their vision for the conference. You guys are doing yourselves and PCRID proud!
In addition to the PCRID conference leadership, it’s the progressive perspective of people like (left to right above) Lyle Vold, Brad Leon, and Ryan Leon on giving back to the sign language interpreting profession that enables game changers like StreetLeverage—Live to get started. As owners of Access Interpreting, and as interpreters, they see true value in open dialogue on issues facing the field.
A hearty thanks to each of them for their leadership, generosity and support of the PCRID conference to enable StreetLeverage—Live to become a reality.
In the End
I have no delusion that StreetLeverage – Live will be perfect work either. With that said, it is my hope that it can play a role in redefining and expanding the platform available to sign language interpreters to engage in meaningful dialogue on the issues we face as a field.
If you have suggestions on how to improve StreetLeverage – Live, or streetleverage.com for that matter, I welcome your feedback.