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.
All right. So Branton Stewart has been going around complaining about how upset he was that Sheneman announced she didn’t get the job before the RID was ready to announce their CEO choice.
Own The Bed You Made, RID.
You dangled the two candidates in front of your membership for feedback. Your idea might have been to engage the membership and excite them about new leadership for the RID. That didn’t seem to work, though, given the results and misunderstandings surrounding the “survey/vote.”
But it did excite deaf people. It built momentum. It built expectations.
Then You Made It Worse. By announcing on April 30 that you had made your choice. So everyone knew. That meant Sheneman must know either way- that she had the job or that she didn’t. Can you imagine how many people asked? The frenzy, the curiosity, the excitement that deaf people would have representation…and how that builds up over time.
And You. Dragged. It. Out.
Yeah. background checks, salary and contract negotiations with Joey, etc. Maybe you should have thought of that first before using Candidate #2 as a token. Or as a tool to excite your membership. Or make more money on membership fees. Whatever.
If you were human, if you had heart, you would have made the announcement as to your final choice much sooner. In fact, you should have done so as soon as you told her she didn’t have the job.
When you get pissed off at Sheneman for remaining silent for four weeks through a barrage of questions without recognizing A) how you set up that situation yourselves from the design of the interview process to your dangling cliffhanger announcement on April 30 to your failure to be able to announce Joey as the CEO immediately upon informing Sheneman and B) without recognizing the emotional effect of having to maintain a facade of “everything’s ok” and smiling at every person who says you’re a shoo-in for a entire month is a pretty fucking difficult task and is in fact commendable, then
You. Have. No. Humanity.
Here’s a public relations tip for next time. “We are close to a decision.” Close would have been true. The final decision is made when the background checks are done and ink on contracts are dry. Close is a very tiny little word that would have spared everyone a lot of pain and embarrassment.
And it makes you seem more thoughtful and deliberative. Taking two weeks instead of two days to make such a significant decision for an organization that’s struggling.
Words matter. Nuance matters.
Stop whining and start taking responsibility for your decisions. This is what happens when you treat hiring like a reality show.
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.
The NAD issued a video and letter demanding an apology from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf over its past audist behavior. Stunning information about multiple cases regarding the testimony of Anna Witter Merithew that have hurt Deaf people’s right to language and access. Check out the link!.
Proud of you, Melissa Draganac Hawk, Howard Rosenblum, and all the others at NAD for making this happen!
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?
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) published their thoughts on the need for updates to the interpreting code of professional conduct. You can read it here.
I agree with everything the NAD said in that update. Interpreters need to stop stealing jobs from Deaf people. Interpreters need to defer to Deaf people as authorities on Deaf lives. Interpreters need to stop profiting off ASL while Deaf people continue to be marginalized.
There’s something that repeats through the NAD publication. Divide. Divide between deaf, hard-of-hearing, and interpreting communities. That divide is there. That divide is very real. I feel that divide as do many of my friends.
Even Melvin Walker mentioned that in his response to the controversy surrounding their CEO pick. He acknowledged that this divide must end. He acknowledged that the on-ramp to the interpreting profession is less and less from the Deaf community.
The question is How do We Fix this Divide? The logical next question is Who is responsible for doing this work?
Deaf people and disabled people are the original life hackers. Life hacks is when we hack something to make the world work better for us. Some great examples here.
Anna Witter Merithew’s deposition said she couldn’t “for the life of her” imagine how to provide interpreting to a deaf person learning how to drive a commercial truck.
Well. Me and my buddy saw that line. In less than 30 seconds, we had three different ideas on how to make interpreting work in a semi truck cab. It. Can. Be. Done.
Why didn’t that court consult a Deaf expert? Is that idea really that unfathomable? That we have no clue how to make the world work for us?
Did Anna refer them to deaf people for their expertise? Gallaudet’s Deaf Studies department must have people that can testify as expert witnesses.
I can think of a few names.
And this woman was in charge of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf? Doesn’t seem like she did a very good job advocating for the interpreting profession. Or Deaf people. This is stunning incompetence.
This is why you go to Deaf people. This is why WE must have full charge of our lives and WE must always be THE experts on OUR own lives.
Nothing about us without us.