It is Simple Addition

Ever wonder what happens during a neRID board meeting? No? Well, regardless, it is your lucky day! I’m going to share the same information I just shared with the board last weekend.

Two weeks ago, I attended the Nebraska Association of the Deaf (NeAD) Biennial Conference in Lincoln, NE – I am more convinced than ever to keep our by-laws and proceedings as simple as possible. Sitting through by-law revisions and proposals is not for the fainthearted. I get to see it again at the RID National Conference – yippee!

The NeAD conference had a panel that answered a few questions related to the Deaf community in Nebraska. They talked about education, interpreters and legislation. The education/legislation piece focused around the recently passed interpreter license bill, specifically how it impacted educational and VRI interpreting services. A comment was made how, in Illinois, it took 10 years for their bill to make it through, and ours only took seven (to which I tweeted a comment about the importance of staying in the fight through setbacks). A concern was raised about hospitals that offer VRI services as the only option, not allowing patients to request a live interpreter on site. During this discussion, it became clear to me that there is a much more expedient method to answering the problem than going through the legislature and mandating or outlining what a person’s rights are, and that is to remind ourselves of our Code of Professional Conduct (CPC).

Why do we need a law to do the right thing? The CPC clearly identifies that “Interpreters possess the professional skills and knowledge required for the specific interpreting situation.” The illustrative behaviors of this tenet include, “Assess consumer needs…before and during the assignment and make adjustments as needed.” “Render the message faithfully…” “Request support…”

Now, I don’t have any experience with VRI, so please excuse AND CORRECT any possible misinformation to follow. But it seems to me that if, as a VRI interpreter, you see that there are technical difficulties or that the communication can’t take place successfully or effectively – stop the process! Inform your superiors or the hospital that “this isn’t working.” Maybe it works nine times out of ten – great, but it isn’t working right now, do the right thing and advocate for a successful solution. The Deaf community represented at the NeAD doesn’t like hospitals telling them that VRI is their only option. They expressed their dissatisfaction with a variety of communication breakdowns: technical issues, interpreters not understanding consumers and the sometimes impossible ability for the interpreter to see the client and vice versa. Interpreters and VRI providers should, as members of the ASL community, support the option of having options.

The panel also talked about education and the importance of language exposure for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children. Bobbie Beth Scoggins, a former National Association of the Deaf (NAD) president spoke on the value of mentoring parents of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children. As she spoke, I again saw opportunities for interpreters to contribute to the community at large.

Peggy Williams from the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NCDHH), as well as others, have begun work on having a joint conference between interpreters and the Deaf community. We both need instruction and opportunities on mentoring, so hopefully a joint conference can tap into that shared need and increase our collaboration.

The other opportunity I saw (and have seen for a while) is for interpreters to invest in their professional development, so they can become the best language model that they can. Of course, this is most important for those working in the educational setting, but my take is that we are all a part of a continuum and we are all members of the same team. The child served in education today becomes tomorrow’s workforce, so we all have a stake in making sure we are doing our best.

Doing our best shouldn’t require an act of legislation. Make an effort TODAY to up your game and that of your team or business! Renew your commitment to excellence.

Recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) changed their policies regarding the College World Series (and hopefully, all NCAA events) because of the actions of a few people IN NEBRASKA!

I just spoke with someone who, although they are trying to make something work to improve their interpreting, stands on the precipice of positively impacting interpreters THROUGHOUT SURROUNDING STATES!

Our efforts might seem small, but they really can make big changes. Even ideas that are borne out of non-altruistic motives don’t negate the potential result that they will positively impact others.

So that is my premise – add. Do something to make whatever you are involved in better. It really is that simple.