Allyship and Centering Deaf People, Disability Justice, Disempowerment, Interpreting, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Uncategorized

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf hits U.S. News

The RID Situation has brought the question “are ASL interpreters Allies or Oppressors?” to the mainstream. The U.S. News published an article by Natalie Delgado and S. Jordan Wright. I found it to be simply and clearly written. Some more context and proper attribution to lead their readers to more discussions on the issue, especially Holcomb and Martin’s new book Deaf Eyes on Interpreting, would have been more beneficial for educating readers not familiar with the discourse about deaf people, power, privilege, and interpreting.

Children of Deaf Adults (Coda; Codas), Disempowerment, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Heartbreaking Story

The Durands testify to their horrifying experience with under-qualified interpreters and barriers to access. Click on the link to watch their story. The interpreter who testified against them is Anna Witter Merithew. The court documents are posted here.

Anna, I hope you’re enjoying your tea made from the tears of Deaf people’s anguish and slurping that blood off your fingers. How much did they pay you to stab us in the front?

And the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf is complicit in having given her this authority. What will they do to prevent this kind of damage in the future?



Children of Deaf Adults (Coda; Codas), Disability Justice, Disempowerment, Interpreting, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

This Makes Me Feel Sick

The former executive director of the RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf) and Coda Anna Witter Merithew has earned blood money by testifying against deaf people’s rights to access. Interpreting is a very important part of those human rights of Deaf people.

I provide court depositions from ONE case (There are many more- do your research! Let’s work together to find more). Reading them make me feel sick. It is hard. I can only read a little at a time. Good luck with them.

Anna Witter Merithew’s legal depositions are here.

Another one here on AWM’s actions.

Oh. Here’s one more.

Three together.

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, whoever you appoint as your CEO is given a lot of authority by Society as an expert. He has EXPERT status by virtue of being your CEO and he wins the sympathy, boo-boo pity card too, because his parents are deaf.

You can deny all you want, but society is ableist and audist. They will always go to the hearing expert. They will go to the CEO of the organization that “represents” Deaf people’s interests. And the cherry on the top? He’s a Coda. So we will assume he would never do anything to hurt deaf people. Codas don’t hurt deaf people, ever! Gosh. (Sarcasm here my friends). Looky at Anna Witter Merithew. There is a special place in hell for people like her.

So Melvin, your message where you used your Deaf parents as an example to us that you would never hurt Deaf people? Actions talk. Your actions showed. By the way you talked about Sheneman in your response to our concerns. You got work to do before Deaf people can trust you.

Is Joey going to do this kind of shit too? Or will the Board Muzzle Him?

Or does RID agree with Anna’s actions and think it’s okay for the RID leadership to work with the system to deprive Deaf people of access and belonging?

Kelby Brick says a lot of pretty fuzzy things about the RID.

Before, I thought we should reform. Before, I thought the RID had a chance to redeem themselves.

But after the way they handled Joey’s announcement and put down Sheneman in the process, I think the place needs to burn to the ground.


Then a Phoenix should rise out of the ashes. Will the NAD get back in the gatekeeping game?

Or should Deaf communities, who know what works best locally, do their own thing on the local/state level to dump RID certification requirements for interpreters to work and come up with local/state licenses or other screening procedures? I have thoughts on this. Stay tuned.


Children of Deaf Adults (Coda; Codas), Disempowerment, Interpreting, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Joey Trapani Disappears Into the Woodwork

I am puzzled. The point of the new CEO/COO structure was for the RID to have leadership that was outward facing and connecting with the various groups, stakeholders, and communities tied to the RID. The COO was to handle the $$$ and internal affairs. Elijah Sow is the guy for that COO job.

The CEO- well, they picked Joey Trapani. Looks like they didn’t bet on a winner. Joey’s Facebook has been shuttered. Naomi Sheneman has established a public page. Joey’s announcement was met with a lot of negative responses on the RID Facebook page and elsewhere. Sheneman’s getting raves in most places. While Sheneman is busy connecting with the community and seeking avenues to perform public service, Joey has disappeared into the woodwork.

Every action by Melvin, Joey and the RID board makes them look worse. They are inviting a lot of criticism, ridicule, and anger with every misstep.

And as someone with no experience in interpreter preparation/education, no experience with the RID, no experience with the certification process and test anxiety for the certification exams, very limited experience in interpreting, and tenuous relationships with the Deaf community, what stories does he have to tell about the RID or the interpreting profession?

Looks like they chose the wrong person to be the “storytelling, outward facing CEO” of the RID. They chose someone who is a duplicate of Elijah Sow but with a history filled with fraud, abuse, and neglect. See this for further discussion.

The RID board missed the boat on transformation. If Sheneman wasn’t the candidate, they should’ve started the search again. Trapani is clearly unpalatable for the majority of us Deaf, Codas, and hearing interpreters.



Disempowerment, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Disempowers Deaf People


In your announcement last Friday, you discussed the idea of empowering and stepping back. The clip from Melvin’s transcript is at the end of this post.

That is not what you did with the Sheneman decision.

Your video made it clear that neither candidate was perfect. You made it clear that you wanted someone you were willing to work with and could mold.

You chose not to elevate and mold a Deaf Woman into the CEO you needed her to be.

Was it just too much work or not seen as possible by your Board?

You’re right. Melvin. It’s 2018 and we should be doing a better job.

And you know what would lead to true empowerment of Deaf community?

Dumping the Helper Mentality.

Hiring and elevating Deaf leaders.

Stepping back to make room for Deaf people to succeed. Including Joey, who should have stepped out of the competition as soon as the two finalists were announced.

Go sell your “empowerment” B.S. elsewhere.


From Walker’s Transcript, June 1. “One such accusation I would like to point out is that the Board did not take Deaf candidates seriously or discriminated against Deaf candidates. Those statements are simply not true. I can speak for myself, Melvin Walker, in that I have dedicated my professional career to honoring my Deaf parents. I am a CODA, both of my parents are Deaf, as well as many other members of my family. I want to honor my amazing parents for the wonderful life that I have had. After seeing my parents fight for their rights at work and in other areas of their life, my goal has been to empower others. In 2018, we should be doing a better job. I work to help, support, empower, and then step back so that others can take the lead. I know my fellow Board members feel the same way, and our goal in the CEO search was to find the right person to lead our organization – a person who could step in and continue to make improvements that we have been working on for several years now. A person who could help make RID a solid organization again with a focus on certification and a strong testing program through CASLI. These programs need to continue to grow in strength. The organization needs to become effective again. We want a robust organization with good policies, a strong test, and a solid membership. This leads to more empowerment of the Deaf community, and better provision of the services and support that are needed. That is our goal.”

Disability Justice, Disempowerment, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

RID Endorses Medical Model of deafness

Joey Trapani is associated with violence visited upon Deaf Bodies. Abuse. Neglect. Check out the Deaf Ally Blog, The Blunt Truth: Deaf Sphere For information. Joey was director of the National Deaf Academy in Florida when it was plagued by scandals related to abuse and neglect of Deaf patients.

Medicine is at odds with our right to humanity. Medical authorities have proven they cannot be trusted with our basic human rights and access. The Medical Industrial Complex is responsible For language deprivation and massive illiteracy in both ASL and English among Deaf* people. As a result, the Medical-Industrial complex is also responsible for our marginalization in society in every area of our lives as Deaf* people unless we have speaking privileges and literacy privileges.

Sign language is a human right. Sign language interpreting is one of the core principles of our human rights. Joseph Murray is a Deaf Studies scholar and historian who writes a lot about sign language as a human right.

Why would an organization devoted to a profession that defends, upholds, and promotes Deaf* people’s linguistic rights/human rights hire someone from a profession that does everything it can to deny us our humanity and deprive us of our rights? Watch this great video in ASL on this subject by a Deaf person.

Why should non-interpreter Deaf* people care about the RID leadership? Our rights matter. We must defend our rights. We must be the gatekeepers in all situations where our rights are affected. We know best. Not Hearing Know Best. We. Deaf* People.

Back to Joey’s history. Given this history of abuse, violence toward bodies, and neglect at NDA, administrating hospitals, why the hell was Trapani even one of the two finalists? How did that happen? I’m shocked and a lot of people were too.

We fought very hard to be recognized as a sociolinguistic minority and a cultural group of people in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, we divorced medical view of Deaf people and you bring in someone as a finalist who has a deep background in the medical field and formerly managed the scandal-plagued National Deaf Academy that was shut down for abusing Deaf* people.

This is a stunning obliviousness to the history of institutionalization, medicine, the body, and violence. Nobody associated with the institutionalization of disabled people and deaf people should be in charge of an organization that has a large responsibility for access and rights of deaf people.

Come on, RID Search Committee. What were you thinking?! He never should have made it as far as the final two.

Children of Deaf Adults (Coda; Codas), Disability Justice, Disempowerment, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Was Sheneman a Token Deaf Candidate for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf?

Melvin’s comments about Sheneman in his video felt very patronizing. Looking down on her so much. Not a good fit for her? Nice. A man deciding what a woman needs and what’s good for her. Good going, Melvin. Man, the only thing missing was a pat on the head for the poor woman.

There’s a lot of talk on Facebook about how Melvin’s video suggested Sheneman was such a bad candidate that she would never done well at being CEO. The tone of his comments about Sheneman leads me to think she was just a token Deaf* candidate for the Deaf* Community. I mean, really, if that’s what you think of her, how did she manage to make it to the final two?

Looks like to me she was just a piece of meat being offered up to the wolves baying at their doors. A token candidate to make us Deaf* people happy that they tried (not very hard). But an exceptional Deaf Woman cannot compare to a Mediocre White Hearing Man. Kelby talked about this too, in his video on Facebook. Again, worth watching.

The RID still owes us an explanation. Not about the process. We understood that just fine, Melvin. Thanks.

I mean. An explanation that answers the questions Kelby raised. That we at Finish Enough raised. That the Deaf * community and our allies are raising.

When will a Deaf Person ever be good enough for you, RID? Will a Deaf Woman ever be good enough for you? A person of color?