Allyship and Centering Deaf People, Disability Justice, General Posts, Interpreting, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Community Organizations Speak Up

Proud of Rhode Island Association of the Deaf and Rhode Island RID for partnering together to pass a vote of no-confidence in the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf organization. See the video here.

Deaf Women United condemned the RID for their recent history of sexism and audism. Proud of DWU for standing behind our community of Deaf Women.

The NAD conference was wild. The discussions about the new association for ASL interpreters was hot. The best line of all? “welcoming interpreters home.”

Melvin Walker was right. The on-ramping to the interpreting profession used to be centered in the Deaf community. But not anymore. We need to fix that. His words, but hey, a broken clock is right twice a day.

We need to fix that by opening up our own space for sign language interpreters.

Howard Rosenblum, the executive director of the NAD, showed some fierceness in his responses to the discussion. He was right that the details should be left up to the NAD. We can and will figure out how to make this work. Let us tidy up the living room, throw the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, hide the laundry then you can all come over for pie and coffee.

I’m all in. I have a ton of ideas for the AASLI. Some of which includes economic justice for deaf people (more work for Deaf Interpreters), disability justice (of course), and racial justice (can’t have one without the other). Stay tuned.

Oh. And RID’s response to NAD’s demand letter. One word for you: insipid.

I don’t see the words “we are sorry” anywhere in there. Do you?

I have a lot more to dissect. I’ll be back after I recover from the last week. See you soon.


General Posts

My Goal

Is not to change the outcome of the CEO decision. That decision has been made.

It is to start a conversation among Deaf* people and sign language interpreters about the interpreting field.

About moving us toward a model of true inclusion and collaborative work.

To examine what it means to be a sign language interpreter.

To understand the power you wield over our access. Our rights. Our place in society.

To have real conversations about empowerment of Deaf* people.



General Posts, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Who Am I?

In some places, the conversation has become about my identity rather than my messaging. I understand why my anonymity is a problem for some people. All I can say is this: I am not safe to reveal my identity.

The RID Headquarters fired a Deaf* person for speaking up a few years ago.

That person can share her story herself if she so wishes. The point is we don’t all enjoy economic security or feel safe to reveal ourselves for many different reasons. Many bloggers out there are anonymous because they don’t feel safe.

I was tired of having so many one-on-one conversations about this across the communities I interact with. Someone needed to start the conversation on a larger scale and show that it isn’t “just me” for many people. Those who needed validation or affirmation for feeling upset with the RID decision has this opportunity to discuss the issues.

I plan to continue this blog long past the current CEO situation is resolved. I have a lot to say about the interpreting profession beyond the RID. This is only the beginning. I hope one day I can reveal who I am but the time isn’t now.

I hope we can return to the heart of our conversation. Why do Deaf people feel disconnected from the interpreting profession? Why does the RID recognize this and claim they want to work toward repairing this disconnect? How can they do that and how can interpreters- RID affiliated and not- work toward this? How can we move forward more access and opportunities for deaf people?

By the way, I want to recognize that now the HQ staff is half Deaf*. This is nice progress. I also know that Elijah Sow, the COO, has a lot of positive reviews. He is well liked, well-respected, and is good at what he does. I like him myself and am glad to see him at RID HQ.

Disempowerment, General Posts, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Deaf* people are not ready to function in the hearing world, the RID says.

The RID sent out an announcement in February explaining the new CEO/COO structure. What they envisioned the roles to be. I’m going to take their words in that e-mail apart. The RID excerpts are in quotation marks.

“The CEO, by contrast, is outward-facing. Their primary job is to increase the visibility and relevancy of RID within the community – “community” is an all-encompassing term, including the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing community, the interpreting community, the disability community, and the rest of the world. Every interpreter facilitates communication between two or more people, and the “communities we serve” include both sides of the conversation.”

Within the community? Someone who is tangentially involved, if at all, with the Deaf* community? Versus someone who is Deaf* and interacts with many parts of the Deaf* community. Hmm.

The interpreting community. Ah. yes. Someone who moonlighted for a brief period in 2008 versus someone who has used interpreters for her entire life and has worked in interpreting for 18 years. Hmm. Again.

The disability community. I can tell you disability justice activists will all agree that a disabled person (in our case, Deaf*) should be leading, representing, governing the organization- from the CEO to the COO to the entire Board of the RID. Go take a gander at disability activist blogs, Twitter, Facebook groups, creative performances, and scholars. Should we go rouse disability activists? That would be fun. There’s a thought for us. And by the by: “the” disability community? Don’t treat disability as a monolith.

The rest of the world. Ah yes. I guess they mean people that know nothing about Deaf* people, our lives, or disability. And we should have a hearing person with the barest understanding of interpreting act as an advocate, explainer in chief, educator, and organizer for the profession. To be “the face” of the profession- and for a lot of “the rest of the world,” that translates into being “the face of the Deaf* community.” That makes sense to me. Lordy.

The RID post again: “The CEO’s job is to tell stories. They sell the vision of an accessible world for Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing people who use interpreters in all situations, from births to funerals and everything in between.”

Oh yes. Who better qualified to tell our stories but a Deaf* person? Otherwise, shall we peddle pity while we are at it? Who better qualified to discuss the value of interpreters  but those of us who experience firsthand what happens when we have/don’t have interpreters? Or unqualified interpreters? Or uncertified interpreters?

RID Post again: “The CEO is also the Chief Advocate for RID. They are the person that “shows up,” leading communities to celebrate when success occurs, and guiding uncomfortable conversations when accessibility does not happen.”

Who would be the biggest advocate for interpreting, access, and professional quality but a Deaf* person who has used interpreters their entire life? Who would be the best advocate for our own access, our rights, our needs? Who has the best expertise on our experiences when accessibility doesn’t happen? Who should be speaking for us? Deaf* people. Back to disability activism.

Back to the RID Post: “The RID Board of Directors is excited about this change, as it is a direct result of members’ strategic planning recommendations from the Salt Lake City Conference last summer. We see it as a necessary evolution in our pursuit of excellence, and a wonderful opportunity for RID’s continued growth of service.”

This reminds me of what the chairperson of the Gallaudet Board of Trustees said back in 1988 about deaf people not being ready to lead Gallaudet University because deaf people were not ready to function in the hearing world yet. There’s video of that out there on the internet.

RID. Looks like you missed your shot. By a million miles.

RID, You remain stuck in 1988.

General Posts, Uncategorized

Finish Enough

I’m here because it’s time for some real talk. See the title? Finish enough. When we say that in ASL, it means something along the lines of we’ve had enough.

I have had enough. There are things I want to tell hearing people and in particular those who want to act as our allies. There are also some ideas I want to share with Deaf people. The time for justice for Deaf people is long past due.

We are going backward. Not forward.

I blog because I hope putting my views in the public forum will move us forward in improving lives and access for Deaf people.

My usage of Deaf* recognizes the term as a reclaimed term that celebrates Deaf people’s shared experiences of culture, community, and systemic oppression based on hearing status. The * represents the umbrella status of the term to recognize the broad spectrum of those who are associated with the term Deaf and the fluid meaning the term holds for many people, including those who are DeafDisabled, DeafBlind, hard-of-hearing, and oral deaf.

This blog is representative of only my own opinions as a Deaf* person.

“Know that your voice does matter. There are different ways to be an activist and there are different forms of activism. Art is activism. Writing is activism. Find your activism and don’t let anyone tell you what that should look like. And know that you are not alone. We are fighting for you and alongside you. When you make your voice heard, we’re gonna be even louder on your behalf. We’ve got you. I promise we do.”-Angie Thomas

Image Description: A dark close up picture of ocean water with a sunset on the horizon.