Interpreting Without a Deaf Interpreter is an RID CPC Violation

September 16, 2014

Potentially life-altering situations and settings call for the skills of a Deaf interpreter, however their provision is inconsistent. Kelby Brick suggests that a shift in paradigm and policy is needed to ensure the consistent presence of CDIs.

Crackers or crack cocaine? If a potential Deaf witness used a signed reference to crackers during a police interview, would you immediately understand the meaning? Fortunately, in this situation, the hearing interpreter (who was top-notch) knew enough to team up with a Deaf interpreter who immediately figured out that the witness was not talking about the food cracker but about crack cocaine. Because of the presence of the Deaf-Hearing interpreting team, effective communication occurred.

[Click to view post in ASL]

Unfortunately, thousands of Deaf people experience serious settings and situations without the services of an interpreter team made up of a Deaf interpreter and a hearing team interpreter. This exclusion of the Deaf interpreter results in unnecessary life-altering experiences for Deaf individuals. A new ethical and financial paradigm is needed to ensure the presence of Deaf interpreters in those settings and situations.

Excluding Deaf interpreters in these setting/situations is a violation of the CPC.

Why The Resistance?

It Requires Hearing Interpreter Involvement

Hearing interpreters worry that if they ask for a Deaf team interpreter, they will be perceived as incompetent[i] even though the very best interpreters recognize that even they need Deaf interpreters. Carla Mathers, a renowned practicing attorney and interpreter remarked recently in a StreetLeverage presentation, “My best interpretation, however, will never equal the value, skills and contributions of a Deaf interpreter.”[ii]

These hearing interpreters are also concerned about losing the assignment to a less competent or less ethical interpreter who could perhaps do greater damage. They may also be unaware of settings or situations that mandate the use of a CDI. As a result, they just plow ahead and hope for the best.

The National Consortium of Interpreter Education Center stated that “the initial determination is left to the [hearing] interpreter, it is of critical importance that legal interpreters undertake this analysis and to subordinate any feelings of inadequacy in the event that a deaf interpreter would be able to assist, improve or enhance the quality of the interpretation. The decision to recommend a deaf interpreter is an indication of professionalism, not a sign of incompetence.”[iii][iv]

RID Must Revise their Definition of a CDI

The realities highlighted above make it difficult to implement the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct (CPC), which makes it clear that hearing interpreters need to ensure the presence of a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) in specific settings and situations.  However, CPC Illustrative Behaviors 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 4.1 and 6.3 are all places where one could make a case that the exclusion of Deaf interpreters is a violation.

First and foremost, the current RID Standard Practice Paper “Use of a Certified Deaf Interpreter” must be updated. This version is antiquated and perpetuates the myth that a CDI is needed only in unusual situations where the “communication mode of a deaf consumer is so unique that it cannot be adequately accessed by interpreters who are hearing.” Historically, Deaf interpreters have been involved in all types of communication situations long before the establishment of RID or interpreter training programs, effectively navigating between languages and providing important cultural perspectives and experiences that make an interpretation more accurate.

Systemic Bias

Two of the common reasons for the ongoing systematic failure to include Deaf interpreters in those settings and situations are as follows:

1)      The payer of the services will seek the lowest bidder, or

2)      The hearing interpreter is burdened with decision of whether to bring in a Deaf interpreter and worried about the various possible negative consequences that could result from a request for a Deaf team interpreter.

We recognize that courts, police departments, hospitals and other entities often seek the lowest price structure for interpreters. Bidders of those contracts, whether by interpreting agencies or by free-lance sign language interpreters, are thus incentivized to exclude Deaf interpreters in their proposals in order to win those contracts. [v] As a result, the Deaf consumer frequently suffers and is impacted negatively.

How to Resolve the Problem

Hearing interpreters work in various life-altering situations on a daily basis without the presence of Deaf interpreters. Excluding Deaf interpreters in those settings or situations is a violation of the CPC. The question now is how can we make it easier for ethical interpreters to uphold the CPC in their business practices? A solution is desperately needed here.

We propose a new standard practice paper by the Registry of Interpreters that would require interpreting contracts to automatically establish the presence of Deaf interpreters in specific situations.

The revised standard practice paper should clearly state that it is unethical to place hearing interpreters without deaf interpreters in defined settings. The standard practice paper would also clearly define best practices which would automatically include Deaf interpreters from the onset for any contracts with hospitals, courts, and other legal settings.[vi] The standard practice paper would then tie the CPC into the hearing interpreter’s obligation to automatically require a Deaf interpreter team in those specific settings.

With this new standard practice paper in place, agencies bidding for contracts can confidently include the use of Deaf interpreters in their proposals and point out that competitor proposals without the inclusion of Deaf interpreters are unethical, illegitimate and represent a violation of RID standard practices and also violate the CPC.

This structure will relieve the hearing interpreter of the burden of assessing the linguistic need of the Deaf consumer, the burden of trying to suggest that a Deaf interpreter is necessary and avoid the awkwardness of trying to explain that the presence of a Deaf interpreter does not reflect on the interpreting skills of the hearing interpreter.  With this structure built into the contracts, agencies can more confidently send Deaf interpreters without worrying about the additional expenses.

Pioneering Radical Change

The California court system’s approach to Deaf interpreters is one place to build on for models elsewhere. The Administrative Office of the Courts in California establishes the presumption that a Deaf interpreter is needed for much broader scenarios including dealing with juveniles or dealing with adults with mental health issues. The Courts also state that CDIs are necessary when dealing with a Deaf person who “relies on uniquely deaf experiences that are unfamiliar to the hearing interpreter.”[vii]

This last line recognizes that CDI is necessary in almost all settings and situations. Accordingly, the California Court states that a Deaf interpreter should be

provided in all civil and criminal actions in which the service is needed for effective communication and in which the deaf or hard-of-hearing individual is a party or witness in a case. These include traffic or other infractions, small claims court proceedings, juvenile court proceedings, family court proceedings, hearings to determine mental competency, and court-ordered or court-provided alternative dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration.”[viii]      

The Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre (DHCC) in Southeast Pennsylvania spells out from the onset that a Deaf/hearing interpreting team is automatically used in “major life-altering situations such as legal and mental health assignments.”[ix] DHCC explains further that

“Police and medical emergencies can have life-altering consequences. Therefore, a Deaf/hearing team of interpreters is usually required to ensure accurate, effective communication. This team approach has proven to be the most effective way to handle police and medical emergencies especially when the communication skills of the Deaf person are unknown.”[x]

Instead of being an exception, DHCC’s model should be the rule across the country. The first step needed to make that happen is the revision of the standard practice paper issued by RID. In the meantime, we urge ethical hearing interpreters and interpreter agencies to take the initiative to comply with the CPC and start requiring the automatic presence of Deaf interpreters in “life-altering” situations.[xi] We also invite readers to participate in dialogue to modify the current interpreter model to mandate the presence of Deaf interpreters in order to ensure Deaf individuals have accurate and effective communications in any setting. We also encourage readers to share this article with local interpreting agencies and institutions (such as the court, hospitals and police) to spark conversations on how they can start routinely ensuring the presence of CDIs along with hearing interpreters in those life-altering settings.

The use of CDIs in specific settings and situations should be the standard and normal practice. Just like a general medical practitioner would bring in specialized doctors (a cardiologist, for example) for some common situations, a hearing interpreter should bring in a specialized (Deaf) interpreter in some common situations.  The skilled Deaf interpreter has contextual and cultural competency that far exceeds hearing interpreters’ ability to fully provide cultural and linguistic access to the Deaf user in situations that are typically at high risk for life-altering experiences.

The National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC) has published a document, Deaf Interpreters in Court: An Accommodation that is More than Reasonable, that provides various citations where “deaf interpreters have proven their worth.”[xii] The evidence in this document and other documents cited here regarding the need for Deaf interpreters in specific settings and situations is overwhelming.

NCIEC has already outlined best practices for interpretation in court and legal settings, stating that deaf interpreters should be present in all court and legal settings and situations involving a deaf party, especially if deaf minors are involved.[xiii] This should go without saying:

Deaf interpreters should automatically be called for legal or medical situations. 

Who Can Help and What Can They Do?

Interpreter agencies and hearing sign language interpreters need to be insistent in requiring the presence of Deaf interpreters in specific settings and situations.  Interpreters (and agencies) need to turn down contracts that would put Hearing interpreters in the role of enabling oppression of Deaf individuals through their failure to ensure effective communications.  The signing community also needs to work with institutions such as medical providers, courts and police departments to ensure that they require the presence of Deaf interpreters every time a sign language interpreter is requested.  We also need make it clear within the interpreter community that the presence of a hearing interpreter without a Deaf interpreter team is tantamount to exploitation of the Deaf individual for the pecuniary or personal gain of the hearing interpreter.  To initiate this conversation with agencies and hiring parties, all interpreters, Deaf and Hearing, and consumers are encouraged to share this article with others.

 Conclusion

The interpreting profession has grown exponentially since the enactment of various civil rights laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1974.  We should not, however, confuse the growth of the interpreting profession with the assumption that Deaf people are receiving effective communications.  As ethical interpreters, each of us has an obligation to “render the message faithfully by conveying the content and spirit of what is being communicated, using language most readily understood by consumers.”[xiv] In many situations and settings, doing so requires the presence of a Deaf interpreter team. We also should require interpreting agencies and hiring parties to ensure the presence of Deaf interpreters as well. We can all do more. It’s the right thing to do.

What steps will you take in your community to initiate this conversation?

 

Co-Author, Jimmy Beldon, CDI, M.A., has been a professional involved in the interpreting field on many levels. Jimmy is the co-owner of Keystone Interpreting Solution, a consulting and interpreter referral business. He currently teaches in the Interpreter Training Program at St. Catherine University in St   Paul, Minnesota. A renowned interpreter in the court system, Jimmy is a former Vice-President of the National Registry of Interpreters (RID) and the current Vice-President of the National Conference of Interpreter Trainer (CIT).

 

References

[i] The resistance to bringing into a Deaf Interpreter has been well documented. For example, Tiffany J. Burns, CI/CT writes in “Who needs a Deaf Interpreter? I do” (Views, November 1999) that I have noticed paranoia among many hearing interpreters, that in asking for a Deaf interpreter, they will appear unqualified or incompetent. I cannot stress enough what a misconception that is.”

[ii] “Perception Conflicts: The Role of Sign Language Interpreters in Court,” Carla Mathers, Esq., CSC, SC:L. StreetLeverage – Live 2014 | Austin.

[iii] “Deaf Interpreters in Court: An accommodation that is more than reasonable,” prepared by Carla Mathers, Esq., CSC, SC:L. The National Consortium of InterpreterEducationCenter, March 2009.

[iv] It is relevant to quote Carla Mather here from her Street Leverage presentation: A Deaf interpreter possesses the skills and innate understanding of the language and Deaf experience which allows them to use language that is most accessible to the Deaf party, to apply expansion of concepts appropriately in order to ensure the communication is clear and accurately conveys the intended meaning. By ensuring that Deaf interpreters are involved in courtroom interpreting, we reduce the oppressive nature of the environment and we ensure that the support and advocacy needed are available to the Deaf parties involved. In addition to the linguistic expertise a Deaf interpreter brings to the courtroom, they are also often able to navigate the strict conventions and rules of the court. The Deaf interpreter may be able to provide perspectives and explanations regarding the seemingly oppressive court system that will allow the Deaf party to understand the system and its rules more clearly. At the very least, a Deaf interpreter may make navigating the systemic conflicts more palatable.”

[v] Octavian Robinson discusses, for example, that courts sells “contracts to the lowest bidder and sacrificing quality and more important, justice. The lowest bidding agency does not assure certified or competent interpreters. This creates a situation where a deaf person’s legal right, regardless of guilt, to a fair trial is compromised.” Robinson also explains that the penny pinching results in the exclusion of CDIs and thus causes Deaf people to lose out in the justice system. See http://blog.deafpolitics.org/2011/06/failure-to-act-for-change.html

[vi] In those rare cases where it is found that a Deaf interpreter is not needed, the Deaf interpreter can then be excused.

[vii] “Recommended Guidelines for the Use of Deaf Intermediary Interpreters,” Judicial Council of California/Administrative Office of the Courts. 2010.

[viii] Ibid.

[x] www.DHCC.org. DHCC explains, “four interpreters (two hearing and two Deaf) are on-call every evening, weekend and holiday. This way, we are prepared for multiple emergencies. A Deaf/hearing team – one interpreter who is Deaf and one interpreter who is hearing – ensures that we are prepared for any level of communication.”

[xi] While a lot of the citations here focus on legal settings, DHCC is correct here in saying that CDIs are necessary in other life-altering situations. This would include, among others, health settings and any settings involving juveniles.

[xii] “Deaf Interpreters in Court: An accommodation that is more than reasonable,” prepared by Carla Mathers, Esq., CSC, SC:L. The National Consortium of InterpreterEducationCenter, March 2009.

[xiii] “Best Practices American Sign Language and English Interpretation within Court and Legal Settings,” by Kellie Stewart, Anna Witter-Merithew and Margaret Cobb, Legal Interpreting Workgroup Members. The National Consortium of InterpreterEducationCenter, March 2009.

[xiv] NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct.

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93 Comments on "Interpreting Without a Deaf Interpreter is an RID CPC Violation"

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Member
Terri Hayes
All this works great – if the Deaf interpreter is 1) at least as good as the hearing interpreter 2) actually has enough flexibility in their language to work effectively with someone who has ideosyncratic language in a way that is not just “signing the english word glosses and fingerspelling English words” to the individual. 3) that the Deaf Interpreter recognize and respect that the hearing interpreter is a qualifed and necessary part of the *team* (and not just there to make sure they can understand what the hearing people are saying)… 4) that the Deaf interpreter is willing to… Read more »
kbrick
Member
Terri, thank you for sharing your experience. I’m sorry that your experience has not been ideal. The focus should be on providing effective and accessible communications to the parties involved. Every profession has highly skilled practitioners at one end and incompetent practitioners at the other end of the continuum. The interpreter profession (whether Deaf or hearing) is not immune to that continuum. Since the focus should be on the quality of the translation process, it seems that additional training and workshops on team interpreting would be of benefit to everyone in your area. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Member
Colleen Geier
I have to agree with Terri who eloquently said what I was thinking and trying to figure out how to say. I have had a few wonderful experiences working with a CDI or DI, specifically with signers from other countries. However, far more often I’ve worked with Deaf interpreters who don’t really sign any differently than I do in the situation. Many times the Deaf interpreter has literally taken what I signed to them and repeated it to the Deaf consumer. If the Deaf interpreter isn’t qualified, or adding to the interpreting process, it simply slows down the proceedings and… Read more »
Member
Linda Hawthorne
I have worked with awesome cdi’s and di’s and have worked with in your face egotistical better than thou types. Working with the hearing interpreter (hi) rather than against gets a lot accomplished. I have had a di tell me I was a lousy interpreter ( in front of the hearing and deaf client.) And what about DI themself? Do we automatically make an exception for them because they have the skills needed for the situation.? Woildnt that put the non DI in the position to feeling inferior? Who will judge who gets the DI if not the HI? ALl… Read more »
kbrick
Member

The interpreters in a team interpreting situation are accountable to each other as well as to the parties. If the interpreters are not working well together, then the parties suffer. There is no excuse for rudeness and I’m sorry you had to experience that. Unfortunately the certification process does not evaluate rudeness in both Deaf and hearing interpreters. 😉

As I mentioned above, the focus should be on communications for the parties and that requires the team interpreters (both Deaf and hearing) to work in unison supporting each other. Appreciate your sharing, Linda.

melliott
Member
Marlene Elliott
I like much of what is said here. There are several barriers for hearing interpreters to getting a CDI when they need one. The first one is the attitude of the hearing interpreter. That is only one thing. Another very difficult barrier is the attitude and lack of knowledge of referral agencies, including large contracts they negotiate especially with large health care systems. As an individual interpreter I have limited power to influence agencies and agencies have limited power to re-negotiate contracts if they have not included it in their bid. I think this issue is a good example of… Read more »
Member
Daniel Mroz
I am very supportive of CDIs and like the idea of including a requirement for CDIs so that agencies can include them in their bidding, and have a recourse for agencies that refuse to hire CDIs. I can think of several Deaf people though, that would absolutely not need a CDI, and would probably not want one there. If a CDI was arrested for something, would we automatically need a CDI to interpret for a CDI? I think it is important to respect the Deaf clients wishes, and if there is a new standard practice paper, it should explicitly make… Read more »
kbrick
Member
I would agree with you that a number of Deaf people would not want CDIs here. I would argue that this is conditioned behavior that we all have learned over the years–and reflects on our community’s lack of knowledge of the communication gaps that really do occur in legal and medical situations. You raise an interesting scenario of whether a CDI would want another CDI if s/he was arrested. I know that I would want a Deaf-hearing team interpreting for me and I have talked to other top notch CDIs and they have uniformly said the same thing. We know… Read more »
Member
Hartmut Teuber

Kelby, employment and education settings are those that should use a CDI, not just the legal and medical/psychiatric situations.

Member

Totally Agree about CDI should be available in school settings!!! We have terrible TOD and so called interpreters in our school districts (mainstreamed).

Member
Tracy Clark

Hi Kelby,
Interesting discussion. I am curious as to how a CDI who works in the legal setting would defend the concept of needing another CDI to understand the same legal setting? If the courts have hired the CDI to do the expansion, etc. for other Deaf parties in court, logic says this same person should be able to do it for him/herself, and understand a standard ASL interpreter. How would you, or anyone, respond to this question using the logic of a court?

kbrick
Member

An excellent question, Tracy, and fortunately, one easy to answer. As I suspect you know, effective translation requires focus. If a CDI happens to be a party in court, the CDI will need another CDI so that the CDI-Party can focus on the case itself rather than the translation process. Cannot do both simultaneously well or effectively.

Member
Tracy Clark
Hi Kelby. Interesting response, but I don’t think that would cut it in a court. An interpreter is supposed to be able to function fluently in both languages, which is the lower skill set, before they can interpret in both languages, which is the higher skill set. They should not be “translating” in their head when they work in English or their second language. If a Punjabi interpreter could not function well enough in English to communicate his own case, I can’t see how I could hire him to interpret from English for another client. Thanks for the discussion.
Member
Bruce Wheelock
I believe Kelly’s point is that when a CDI is functioning as an interpreter, her or his focus is on relating content and meaning. While focused on that, the interpreter isn’t able to focus adequately on the implications and ramifications of each question and each answer. Hearing suspects in interrogations get to focus all of their attention on the questions and answers. A CDI has to concentrate on every question, just like a hearing suspect. But a CDI handling interpreting for the suspect, while being the suspect, means that the CDI is constantly shifting from one mind set to another.… Read more »
kbrick
Member
Whew, Marlene. Lots of things you said here for us all to think about. I concur with the notion that we should examine the need for an agency code of ethics which will likely cover a lot of different things (such as those you pointed out) in addition to the need for Deaf-hearing team interpreting. The focus should be, naturally, on communications for the parties. All tests have various strengths and weaknesses and I would, frankly, be resistant to any claims that any particular claims that the CDI test is any more vulnerable than the other RID tests. Can all… Read more »
Member
Hi! I want to concur with the comment about the CDI test and challenge the English portion requirement. There are some phenomenal, off the chart, excellent DIs who may never hit the English bar of the CDI exam. Why is that necessary? It hasn’t come into play when we are teaming together…I handle the English portion of the interaction and the DI handles the direct ASL/Visual Gestural with the client. I would vote in a heartbeat to create a separate English endorsement for the CDI. Set up the CDI exam on signing skills and if a person wants to get… Read more »
Member
Correct! If all hearing interpreters were made the same- Equally proficient in English and ASL in such a way that their ASL is sufficiently cohesive that the DI can do their job without any English skill, then we can state that the minimum standard for a CDI is to only know ASL-VG. BUT that is not the case. Most interpreters still sign with English intrusions either in their sign choices or grammar, often its both. So it is appropriate to have a standard where CDIs must know English to make adjustments needed when working with HIs that have not quite… Read more »
Member
Hartmut Teuber

The problem with the CDI test may be a function of what the test developers (CDI Test Taskforce) envisioned what a CDI does generally. It may not meet the validation requirement of a certification test. The job description of a CDI needs to be redrawn to meet the expectations of today, on which a test should be designed. Perhaps English vocabulary should be part of a CDI test, or lacking thereof, be emphasized in the training.

Member
Bravo Marlene!!! I agree whole heartedly with you synopsis of the situation. If only this would actually take place, we could fix things for the betterment of all parties involved. That, however, would involve people checking their “ego’s” at the door, which is not likely to happen. Years of oppression upon the D/deaf community has produced many (not all 🙂 ) CDI’s with an “I am here to protect this consumer’s rights” attitude, behaving as their “helper” rather than an interpreter. It many times becomes an “us against them” type of situation, and is a disservice to all parties involved.… Read more »
kbrick
Member
Kelby Brick

Yvonne, are you suggesting that a hearing interpreter should be the exclusive gatekeeper and evaluator of a Deaf person’s linguistic needs?

Member
Wyatte Hall

It should be up to each Deaf person what they feel they need in the situation. I agree with the overall aim of making it an expectation to include CDI in any type of interpreting situation because there will be people that will want a CDI in any situation. Having the CDI should not be forced onto anyone though. It should not automatically be considered an ethical violation to not have one unless the Deaf person clearly wanted and wasn’t given one.

kbrick
Member

Wyatt, I appreciate your comments. I have a question for you: what if the Deaf person declines to have an interpreting team but the interpreters, based on their professional experience and training, believe that the team is necessary to do their job effectively?

Member
Valerie Bernham

How is it constructive to the Deaf community, the Interpreter community or…anyone, to be pointing fingers at each other? That CDIs aren’t hired more has less to do with the ASL/English Interpreter who, face it is not the person in power, than the hiring entity. If fingers must be pointed, and really how effective a strategy is that ultimately? We, Deaf and Hearing Interpreters, and the Deaf community should be standing shoulder to shoulder *together* and facing the Powers That Be ~ those who are hiring us.

kbrick
Member

Yup, Valerie! We are all in this together. We should work together to elevate the profession and provide better services to consumers.

Member
Gwen Crawford
Thank you for puttting this very thought-provoking article out there. And I’m also grateful for the very honest comments. I whole-heartedly agree that many areas of our profession demand change. I welcome CDIs and I have several CDI colleagues who have my utmost respect. However, here are a few thoughts. I appreciate what Marlene said about the difficulty of mandating CDI’s accross the board in every legal and medical setting. I would add that more than individual client needs is the vast spectrum of economies and cultures we have across the U.S. I could imagine Kelby Brick’s proposals being successful… Read more »
kbrick
Member

Gwen, you are correct that some areas lack the supply of qualified interpreters, whether Deaf or hearing. The focus should be on access and policy can spur changes. There are far more professional hearing interpreters today since laws were enacted requiring such. Access is better today but we still need to close the communication gap in various situations. Further policy and practice changes are needed and that will spur the development of more interpreters, both Deaf and hearing.

Member
SOME areas lack enough interpreters? (Assuming CDIs). In California, we have 14 CDIs – not all work in court. Less than 40 SC:Ls – several do not work in court. And five staff SC:Ls – three in Sacramento (two CODAs), one in Riverside, and another in the Bay Area. The CDI exam – per RID this morning – does not have a legal component to the certificate AND (for obvious reasons) it is not an RID-CDC violation if a CDI is not utilized. Again, nowhere near enough CDIs anywhere. To promote that it is a violation of the RID Code… Read more »
Member
Lorraine Dusseau
Gwen- 100% on the money. Hospitals and many medical service providers would back off and not use any interpreter. I have seen it happen. Medical interpreting brings a totally different set of considerations for the Interpreting process. If we bring a CDI and the deaf client dismisses them, the agency/hospital would be paying them for showing up. That alone could be a sticky situation. I have backed off in some situations and contacted a charge nurse or whoever I would report to and try to explain the need for a CDI. I am never shy about getting a time- out… Read more »
Member
Neil McDevitt
I’m the Executive Director of DHCC mentioned in the article. Lorraine and Gwen’s comments mirror our realities. We are often rejected as a provider of interpreting services by customers who perceive our efforts as profiteering rather than ensuring communication access. However, we began using that practice years ago (if memory serves, the general concept started in the ’90’s) so we’ve seen the process of “interesting”…”I won’t pay for that” …”I understand why that’s necessary now” repeated with multiple clients on multiple levels. One thing we’ve found helpful is to change the description to accommodate the perception of the person arranging… Read more »
Member
Pros There is plenty of work to be done on the part of HI/CHIs and DI/CDIs to continue to educate the vendors/businesses on why a CDI completes the needs of any and all interpreted events. This battle will never stop for all of us. It is too worthwhile a cause to ensure Deaf rights are honored. Cons Implies that having only hired a CHI is equivalent to malpractice. HI/CHI’s are allies in the SAME field and fighting the same battles against oppression and cultural and linguistic equivalence in regards to servicing the interpreting field. The discussion to have CDI’s is… Read more »
kbrick
Member

I concur that DI/HI are allies and need to work together as professionals. I concur that vendors and businesses are critical stakeholders here which is why agencies and institutions were highlighted here. Thanks for the reminder on the emphasis, Mary.

Member
Padraic Saich

This article is omitted deaf rights under ADA, if didn’t then that saying “Interpreting Without a Deaf Interpreter is an RID CPC Violation” is violation of going above the federal law. I do practice law on my behalf and those who wrote the article is ignorant of not comprehend the legal system.

Member
Bonnie Kraft
I enjoyed the article and loved the responses. Yes, CDIs are very important. Yes, CDIs should be there in many instances. Yes yes yes. But… what if the Deaf client doesn’t want a C/DI? If it’s a long job, does that mean 2 CHIs and 2 CDIs? How many paying parties are willing to double the already high bill? For me, the biggest issue is the qualifications of the CDI. I’ve worked with several C/DIs over the years and to be frank, very few actually did the job; most just shadowed or rendered an interpretation that was just completely wrong… Read more »
Member
Terri Hayes

Thank you.

Member
Colleen Geier

Ditto!

melliott
Member
Marlene Elliott

Yes, thank you

kbrick
Member
Bonnie, I’m sorry you were the brunt of rude behavior. Unfortunately, our profession are not immune to rudeness, whether by Deaf or hearing interpreters. Talented Deaf people should be encouraged to become CDIs. Others have highlighted here the scarcity of CDIs in some areas. If you see a talented person, please do encourage them to undergo the training to become a CDI. I agree with you, Bonnie, that being able to sign (along with the ability to pass tests) does not guarantee quality. That is true, whether the interpreter is Deaf or hearing. For each mediocre DI that we encounter,… Read more »
Member
Elizabeth Ballard

Thank you Bonnie. Very valid concerns, and unfortunately the experience may be representative of our larger cohort.

Member

AMEN!!!

Member
Darcy Tucker
The verbiage in this article IE: (“In many situations and settings, defined settings,specific settings and situations”, etc. . .) – still presents the concept that CDI”s should be required only occasionally, in special settings, when the NIC interpreter determines one is needed. . . what if the paradigm of providing interpreting services changes to a team ideology constructed of a NIC/CDI interpreter team as the standard for all environments with exceptions to that. As we all know, interpreting is expressing the meaning of an individuals words. Does it really matter if the environment is legal, medical, financial or educational? All… Read more »
kbrick
Member
I concur, Darcy, that any guideline or policy should be specific as to avoid loopholes here. In writing the article, Jimmy and I kept it broad as to generate dialogue and discussion. Naturally, policy will need to be precise. I would not bill for additional interpreters. I know of successful models that billed for specialized interpreting services. This is consistent with, for example, cardiologists, surgeons and other specialty medical providers, billing a higher rate for specialized services. Payors are more willing to pay for specialized services as opposed to additional and seemingly redundant workers. Folks understand specialized services warrants a… Read more »
Member
Cousin Vinny
Ever hear of the ‘telephone game’? The introduction of a CDI into a legal interpreting team risks confusion, misunderstanding and misinterpretation. That said, the use of CDI’s in legal settings entails a risk-benefit analysis. Is idiosyncratic sign language or manual gesture system being used? The certified interpreter needs to recognize signs that may entail the need for a CDI. The Deaf person may request a CDI. The benefit of clear communication may outweigh these risks involved in a two-person interpreting the same content. I am still cautious about the use of a CDI in non-legal settings. FWIW, the CDI pool… Read more »
kbrick
Member

My dear Cousin Vinny, your concerns regarding the risk/benefits are shared by a number of others. I would be very interested in whether your concerns are alleviated after you’ve reviewed the literature in this area (some of which are cited in the article). I trust that you’ll find the literature eye-opening. Hope to catch you around.

Member
Look at the bigger picture. This article is all about Deaf taking ownership of their own community. Deaf people are healthier when they are raised, taught, guided, interpreted, by the Deaf. It is an unmistakable fact. There are good CHIs, bad CHIs, good CDIs, and bad CDIs. Of course, but this article is not about this. There are Deaf people who prefer to have CDIs. There are some who don’t. This article isn’t about that either. In a life altering situation, I would want a top CDI with masters degree to be my interpreter. If I don’t, I will tell… Read more »
Member

I agree with MK. Thank you MK.

Member

Sorry, but I disagree with the comment that “It is about us, the Deaf.” It is actually about everyone involved, not just the Deaf. I, as a 14 year certified interpreter, am there to interpret for EVERYONE involved, not just the Deaf person. And the person paying the bill is important too, not strictly the Deaf consumer. The type of language and thinking that excludes all other parties is exactly why we have these issues in the first place. No mutual respect.

Member

I find it interesting to notice the comments here in Street Leverage is by mostly hearing and the ASL version of this article has been posted by mostly Deaf…..

Member

Just one point. The example at the beginning of the article… The sign was “cracker”, but not meant as food. Interpreter, whether Hearing or Deaf, doesn’t need native Deaf fluency. They would need drug culture fluency. Just having a CDI in that situation would NOT guarantee communication…

Member

Can I get an “AMEN”!?!

bcolonomos
Member
Kelby and Jimmy, First, thank you for your powerful article. You make excellent arguments and a strong case for our field to move forward in partnership with Deaf interpreters. I am somewhat surprised, to put it mildly, at a number of responses and I’d like to add some “reality checks” to the discussion. Are there insufficient numbers of qualified DIs? Yes. Are some DIs not able to do the work they should be doing? Yes. The training of Deaf interpreters has been a recent addition to interpreter education. It is sporadic, and insufficient. Deaf people are not getting what they… Read more »
kbrick
Member

Thank you, Betty, for articulating those “reality checks.” I concur that we should focus on the delivery of accurate communications. There are numerous awesome interpreters out there, both Deaf and hearing, and I share your sentiments that we can improve the pool.

Member
Tracy Clark
Hi Betty, Thank you for re-directing some focus to what is, I believe, one of the elephants in the room. We have a fluency issue among second language learners of ASL who are functioning as English/ASL interpreters. In addition, these posts point to a possible, and logical second fluency issue among second language learners of English who are functioning as C/DIs. I’d like to add my own observation, that over the last 40 years of mainstreaming, we’ve also had a de-standardization of ASL in many populations which has complicated the linguistic situation even more. To everyone on this topic, I’d… Read more »
Member

Thank you Betty for speaking the truth.

Member
Kelby, Like you, I’m deaf and an attorney. I use a designated interpreter where I work in a corporation so I’m keenly aware of the good and bad with interpreting. Plus I like to joke that if I was arrested or seeking consulting on a major medical issue – there is no way I would want an interpreter. I’d say “Write/Type it all down and I’ll provide my response in writing.” Words matter. Net, I’m also cognizant that I live in a “bubble” to an extent which is a major gap in my education about this. In principle, I love… Read more »
Member
Scott, i appreciate your honesty especially regarding the gap that you reference to. I am glad that you agree that we should focus on the 2 spaces of health and legal settings and I agree that the conversation here should be limited to this. (Note to others, routine doctor visits would be considered a somewhat separate category than those that are referenced here.) As for the so-called discounting of others comments–I would reference you not only to the citations here (and elsewhere) discussing the translation of accurate communications but also the powerful comments on this page by both Betty Colonomos… Read more »
Member

A huge area of interpreting has been neglected here: VRS/VRI.

I believe there should be a CDI in every VRS/VRI center. The Deaf consumer has a right to request a CDI; then one has to be available. At this point we would not be able to honor that request. It is a change that needs to be made.

Member
RB, I concur wholeheartedly with the premise that VRS should be using CDIs. A number of years ago, I was able to persuade the FCC to authorize the use of CDIs as an allowable expense for VRS. However, providers still receive a flat rate perminute and prefer to use that expense elsewhere. Fortunately, the delegates at the recent National Association of the Deaf (NAD) conference just approved a 2014-16 priority to cover the costs of CDIs in VRS settings as separate reimbursable expense beyond the normal reimbursement rates. Please see Section 1(4)(c) under the first priority at http://nad.org/about-us/priorities. In any… Read more »
cmathers
Member
Carla Mathers
Kelby and Jimmy, Thank you for your insights and I appreciate all of the responses. I agree with Betty C., though that some reality checks are in order and I think she explained them nicely. When I was reading the comments from others, in my head I said, “yeah that happened to me when a Deaf interpreter said they were needed because I wasn’t good enough” and we talked about that afterwards and how to phrase it so I didn’t appear incompetent. And I said, “yeah I actually had to sit down once in 30 years with a CDI and… Read more »
Member

That’s a really great idea!!! Bravo.

Member

I wonder if a slight shift in our paradigm might help the discussion. Rather than DIs and HIs, which seem to emphasize audiological status, we could find a term to reflect the native sign language interpreter. I believe at the heart of this discussion is the Deaf person’s desire and need to have an interpreter (alone or as part of the team) that is a native signer, especially in high stakes environments such as health care and the legal system.

Just a thought, please discuss….

Member
Hartmut Teuber

Very good thought! A paradigm shift for revisiting the interpreting model involving sign language and various kinds of deaf participants of the communication triad.

kbrick
Member

Jayne, I appreciate your comment. I would encourage readers to review Anna Mindess’ article here.

http://www.streetleverage.com/2014/08/are-hearing-interpreters-responsible-to-pave-the-way-for-deaf-interpreters/

Anna discusses various techniques and adjustments that only Deaf interpreters can make. Being simply a native signer is unquestionably valuable but is typically not enough in high stake environments.

Member

Everyone, I would urge each of you to look at the comments of Betty Colonomos and Carla Mathers. For those of you without the privilege of meeting or knowing them (and my co-author Jimmy Beldon); the three of them are considered the premier interpreters (both Deaf and hearing) and having extensive experience as teachers, trainers and vendors. Each of them rock!

Member
Jenee Petri
Thank you for this message. I think another piece of the solution is making sure ITP’s address these issues. CDIs should be a part of all ITPs so that the next generation of interpreters enter the field fully expecting to work with CDIs as the norm. The time in ItP could be spent addressing the systemic bias against CDIs by looking at case studies and discussing strategies for overcoming those barriers and disrupting the status quo. I realize I need to be more educated on these issues so I can be a better ally, advocate, team, and interpreter. Thanks for… Read more »
Stephanie Clark
Member
Stephanie Clark
I do wonder if some of our hearing colleagues truly support our profession in the use of Deaf Interpreters? Are we truly ready? I will never forget an experience I had when I requested Deaf Interpreters for my PhD classes at a University more than ten years ago. The Interpreter coordinator at that time was a nationally certified interpreter and actually laughed at me when I requested Deaf Interpreters for my classes. The university often hired non-certified and non-state approved hearing/coda interpreters to interpret for classes for other Deaf students and refused to provide Deaf Interpreters who were already RID… Read more »
Member
Hartmut Teuber
There are extremely few DIs who are capable to interpret tough academic classes, like higher mathematics, economics, and other subjects of a purely theoretical nature. I often had to suppress rolling my eyes, when a DI explain linguistics, for example. Deaf math professors at Gallaudet, even truly native signers themselves, use English to teach algebra and calculus, being unable to do so in ASL all the way through. For my own classes, I would only request a DI who is already specialized in the subject area, and it could turn out that nobody is such a guy. Any interpreter needs… Read more »
Member
I have worked with dIs and CDIs before. I tell you, they have saved my bacon every time. I KISSFIST them. First, the oneness is on the CDI to be completely bilingual including idioms and the like. I recommended to an agency once that they have a CDI at a child custody case. the agency chose to ignore me so I bowed out of the job. Several of my Deaf friends whose command of the English language is CHAMP, I have told them they should consider being a CDI. Yet, I disagree that CDIs should always accompany a hearing interpreter… Read more »
Member
Thanks for the article! Kind of a mind blower. I think of the analogy…and please don’t shoot me…of volkswagens and porches. Both will get you where you need to go… So at times my interpretation might be on the level of a VW…and other times I hit the porche mark. When I get a flat tire, it’s time for a real vehicle. So to say a DI is necessary for all legal situations, or all medical/mental health situations etc…isn’t reality. There are capable, competent HIs. The challenge is matching those situations and consumers/clients with the most effective and…dare I say…efficient… Read more »
Member
Hartmut Teuber

Shelley, the VW and Porsche analogy may not fit, but your saying of “real vehicle” is fitting! A Porsche may not be the correct vehicle in any situation, except to be pretentious. Smile.

Finding a good analogy is often a challenge in an interpreting situation. If a DI could use one successfully, whereas the source text does not contain it, that would be wonderful.

Member

Hi Hartmut!
Thanks for note ;o)
Let’s go for a drive!
I’ll pay for gas! You bring the convertible ;o)

Member

Destination: Plea agreement!

Stephanie Clark
Member
Stephanie Clark
Having two interpreters (Deaf and coda/hearing) at every assignment is Best practice when Open Interpreting Model within the team is utilized. Some of the comments here show some practices that are outdated i.e. forcing coda/hearing interpreter to stand behind Deaf consumer (I don’t support this as I prefer my team to be able to see what Deaf consumer is saying however there are special circumstances where it’s best for the team to stand/sit behind Deaf consumer i.e. mental health interview, Deaf person is distracted or easily confused, etc.). The team is full responsible for the message. We all bring something… Read more »
Member
Hartmut Teuber
It is easier to evaluate if a HI is “good”, “adequate”, or “just someone I can deal with and support as a team member” than for a HI to evaluate a DI’s competence. The DI has been a consumer of the interpreting service long before becoming such. They have used interpreters much more often than the “special” groups of the signing population and will know almost immediately the competence of an interpreter to deliver messages into signs, be it in ASL or how much they infuse English components into the signing stream. However, most of them cannot evaluate the English… Read more »
kbrick
Member
All those stories are critical and I appreciate each of you sharing your stories. I would be cautious in denigrating Deaf interpreters here because each and every one of us (both Deaf and hearing) have plenty of horror stories of incompetent hearing interpreters. We should be looking at how to elevate our profession and improve the competency of interpreters everywhere, both Deaf and hearing. Betty Colonomos asks a key question why Deaf interpreters being held to a standard far beyond hearing interpreters. Carla Mathers emphasizes this well by asking why we are not going with the good examples instead of… Read more »
Member

This article has one major hole in it, CDIs are few and far between in many areas. Last I heard in TX there were only I believe 10 CDIs in the whole state and I know that one of them moved away last year. It is completely impossible to offer one consistently with those numbers.

Member
Shelly Hansen
Hi Rachel and all… I think sometimes there is a disconnect between people who are in urban areas with a large pool of interpreters, and rural America. I interpret in towns where…no one else is willing to go. Meaning the courts try and try to fill assignments and the response from over yonder is: we won’t go there. Other interpreters don’t want to drive 3 hours one way. I am not sure how VRI fits in with this thread. Are they thinking there will be VRI everywhere and so everyone can have two terps anytime?…I still get mixed or primarily… Read more »
Member
Shelly Hansen

Google: Ephrata, WA…anyone want to team with me there? ;oD

Member
Shelly Hansen

Status conference…will take about 35 mins tops.

Member
Shelly Hansen

It is right between..nowhere and nowhere USA. The antithesis of sexy StreetLeverage urbane outposts.

In WA state, I am aware of 4 active DIs (two CDIs and two QDIs). I am aware of 1 in Idaho.

Someone correct me.

Member
As a director of an interpreting agency, I am intrigued by the value of responses I have seen. Our agency models the DI/HI team in potential life altering situations. We have turned down assignments where we felt strongly enough that a DI/HI team was necessary and the requester has refused to pay for two interpreters. The down side of refusing an assignment based on this standard is that inevitably we find out that the assignment has either gone unstaffed, or an independent interpreter accepted the assignment without a team, compromising the integrity of accurate translation being received by the Deaf/HH… Read more »
Member
Kelby Brick

The arguments that we do not have enough CDIs are true but that does not detract from the fact that Deaf people need and require communication access. Instead of being an excuse not to provide services, systems need to develop more CDIs and do better to bring them in.

Various laws and rules propelled the growth of the number of hearing interpreters even though we faced arguments back then that there were not enough hearing interpreters around.

Lets use the argument of the limited number of CDIs to develop better systems to better utilize our existing CDIs while developing more.

kbrick
Member
Kelby Brick
The argument that CDIs are expensive are consistent with the arguments that hearing interpreters are expensive. Systems have been successful sued because they tried to use the economic arguments as an opportunity to deny access. CDIs are a critical component of ensuring effective communications and the failure to bring in CDIs in certain settings are exposing the legal or medical service provider (and other service providers involved here) to liability. Systems can do better and do things more efficiently (cheaper) but they have no incentive to find ways to do better. Requiring access consistently and enforcing existing laws and rules… Read more »
Member
Shelly Hansen
Hi again~ I want to respond to that comment that efficiency is a driver. What would happen, absent a law (and even that is not followed if you consider the continuing struggles to have ADA compliance and access in 2014) is that people would see that the difference between a CHI and CHI/CDI team in many instances is negligible. Meaning that if you took a doctor or an attorney, had them work with a CHI and then with a CHI/CDI and compare the two outcomes, there wouldn’t be a noticeable difference in effective communication at a pragmatic level. The person… Read more »
kbrick
Member
I’ll be frank here and say that I’m somewhat alarmed about the perspective that “there wouldn’t be a noticeable difference in effective communication at a pragmatic level.” This perspective is not supported by the literature referenced here. I recognize, however, that you’ve expanded the scope of coverage here to include, for example, social security appointments (although many of those would typically need CDIs anyway) so I would urge you to focus on the narrower and more specific settings as outlined in the article here. The reference to other spoken language interpretation process (such as Spanish) is not appropriate here because… Read more »
Member
Shelly Hansen
Hi Kelby and all~ Thanks for reply above. Didn’t mean to be alarming…in the statement prior the context is: many instances. Not all. I am thinking of the day in and day out doctor’s appts, check ups, follow-ups, referrals, radiology appts etc… and the day in and day out status conferences, traffic infractions, client-attorney meetings, DOC hearings, arraignments etc… These are examples of the legal situations that are in Carla Mather’s book on pages 116 and 117 called rote proceedings that are non-evidentiary or minimally evidentiary. I know that she wrote it a while back and may want to edit/update… Read more »
bcolonomos
Member
I see no point in debating about whether or not a CHI can do work without a CDI for several reasons. First, we are talking about a goal for our field and we should be taking a stand on the need for Deaf interpreters. The fact that this is not possible right now is given. However, if we do not advocate for more C/DIs there will not be a major effort to recruit and train more. Second, the statement from Shelly Hansen’s post, “…the majority of encounters are handled most efficiently if you have a competent CHI” may be true… Read more »
Member
Shelly Hansen
Hi Betty and all~ The title of this article isn’t “We should improve CH/DI training”. This article is purporting that it is unethical to work as a CHI in medical and legal settings. Perhaps I misunderstood. I disagree and see that as an extreme position that is unhelpful and misleading. If you are merely wanting to improve the qualifications and competence of all interpreters, CD/HI…absolutely! What am I personally doing to improve the situation? Working hard every day…continuing to learn and improve everyday…and requesting a C/DI whenever it is appropriate to the best of my knowledge in the specific situation.… Read more »
Member

Yuppers, and another AMEN!

Member
Debbie Lesser
I work as a medical VRI interpreter. The company I work for provides spoken language interpreting in addition to sign language interpreting. They recognize that the needs of the deaf community are far different from the needs of their spoken language patients and have taken a proactive approach to meeting those needs. For example, we have created a ‘decision tree’ that we provide to each of our customers which outlines when VRI is a viable option and when they must call an onsite interpreter. I am a strong supporter of using CDI’s in the medical setting – especially because we… Read more »
Member
Christine Walsh
As a student and currently learning about the CPC I found many of these points quite interesting. There are so many instances that someone that has a better grasp of an individuals first language would be much better suited. As when there are people’s lives hanging in the balance and there are legal issues involved. Sometimes I think there are just some things that we as interpreters will just never fully understand no matter how long we are exposed to the Deaf community because we were not raised within that culture. It would be the same as someone from the… Read more »
Member
Lauren Morcerf
Very interesting and important points were brought to light in this article. I am currently a student in an interpreting training program. Working alongside CDIs was not really talked about until very recently when CDIs were brought into the spotlight, so to speak, during a press conference in NYC. I think it is imperative that ITP educators incorporate CDIs into the curriculum of ITPs to ensure that optimal service is provided for the Deaf consumer. I feel that if the awareness can start at the education level, the reluctance and stigma that some interpreters feels regarding calling on and working… Read more »
Member

Great idea!!! I agree.

Member
Thank so much for this article. As a hearing interpreting student and a hopeful future interpreter this has been an intriguing article for me. Before I entered my interpreting class I have never even heard of a CDI or DI. Now that I have more knowledge about out field of work I understand how crucial Deaf interpreters are especially in medical and law fields of work. At first when I was learning about the interpreting profession and CDI’s I was under the impression that if you worked with a Deaf interpreter that your interpreting skills were not up to par… Read more »

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