I recently attended the 2015 Deaf Missions Interpreters Conference and was again reminded of the relationship between the interpreting profession and the Deaf Community.
It began with a keynote address from Carol Tipton, CSC, CI and CT. Carol has had multiple opportunities to enhance the profession of interpreting – she has coordinated the National Interpreter Training Consortium, she chaired the RID committee which composed the previous Code of Ethics, and currently serves as a member of the RID Certification Council. Carol gave a brief history of RID, which included the moments when NAD took a young group trying to establish itself under its (NAD’s) wing, to the moment when RID no longer felt it needed to be associated with NAD.
It followed with another keynote address from Lance Forshay, a faculty member and lecturer from the University of Washington. Lance introduced (me) to the topic of Deaf Gain. He illustrated it with a story. He told of a train ride he took. When he was first asked for his ticket, he pointed to his ear to indicate he couldn’t hear. The interaction that followed was not positive. On a following trip, instead of pointing to his ear when asked for his ticket, Lance began to respond in his native language. The person asking for the ticket (not the same person as had asked before) immediately began searching for a method to communicate. He pulled out another ticket to indicate what he was looking for, and Lance responded in kind. The next day, that same individual, upon seeing Lance, immediately showed Lance a ticket to indicate that was what he was looking for. That individual even went so far as to learn the ASL sign for ticket so that he could more effectively communicate with Lance. All of this was born out of a change in communication that DIDN’T emphasize “the loss.”
If you Google Deaf Gain, you will find several search results, including a 2014 article from Psychology Today. Please consider taking some time to read up about it, and consider how we/I/you might continue to grow as a profession that values and develops our relationships with the Deaf Community.
There is also a book, Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity, you might want to check out.