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StreetLeverage – It’s Our Birthday!

It's a StreetLeverage Birthday!

Time flies when you are having fun! For five years, we have been honored to connect with you about the field we love so much.

5th Anniversary - SL Featured Image 2

It’s been a pleasure engaging with practitioners and stakeholders in the field of sign language interpreting for the past five years. A lot has happened in that time. StreetLeverage contributors and readers have engaged in meaningful and sometimes difficult conversations for which we are grateful. At the same time, we have had the opportunity to meet many new friends, reconnect with others, and attempt to create a space where conversation, self-reflection, and accountability are encouraged.

At StreetLeverage, we also believe in taking the time to celebrate the special moments, special people, and good times. This milestone birthday is one of those moments for us. Thank you for supporting and participating in the StreetLeverage endeavor. Raise a glass with us in celebration!

Here are some fun, unpublished facts to help celebrate our 5 year anniversary.

5th Anniversary of StreetLeverage

We’d love to hear from you! Please take a moment to share some of your own StreetLeverage memories in the comments section below. Here are some questions to start you thinking:

  1. What’s you favorite StreetLeverage moment?
  2. What is your favorite element of StreetLeverage (articles, social media coverage, live stream, LIVE events)?
  3. How many StreetLeverage – Live events have you attended so far? Why do you go?
  4. What StreetLeverage post has impacted you the most?
  5. What topics do you want to see covered by StreetLeverage?
  6. Who would you love to see present at a StreetLeverage – Live event?
  7. What is your favorite StreetLeverage – Live presentation and why?
  8. Who do you wish would write an article for StreetLeverage?
  9. If you wrote an article for StreetLeverage, what would you write about and why?

* Interested in receiving StreetLeverage posts in your inbox?

Simply enter your name and email in the field above the green “Sign Me Up!” button (upper left-hand side of this page) and click “Sign Me Up!”

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Is Sign Language Interpreting Ready for an Uber-like Approach?

Is sign language interpreting ready for an Uber-like app?

Traditional models of sign language interpreter referral are going head-to-head with technology as the digital realm’s innovation and sophistication foster the creation of out-of-the-box solutions for providing access. Read this case-in-point.

 

Are sign language interpreters ready to challenge their own ideas about “standard practices”?

Just as VRS and VRI redefined the field of signed language interpretation, coming technologies have the potential to change the trajectory of work in the field. Could alternative methods for finding, assigning, billing for and paying sign language interpreters mean more choices for consumers, practitioners and requestors?

We can already look to CSD’s Vineya, Linguabee, and now, Stratus’ InPerson app, for examples that we are standing on the precipice of evolutionary events in our field. What are the benefits? Are there downsides to exploring new ways to solve old problems? Traditional standards for vetting sign language interpreters, matching them with assignments, teaming, billing and other established methods in sign language interpreter referral seem to be next in the lineup for radical change. Eschew or embrace it – change is coming.

[Click to view post in ASL]

Is Geolocation the New Name of the Game?

On February 26, 2016, HealthCareIT News posted “Stratus Video to Debut Uber-like app for interpreters at HIMSS16.”  According to Stratus Video insiders, the article regarding the release of their InPerson app was a bit premature. The article’s publication, however, prompted Brandon Arthur, founder of StreetLeverage.com, to reach out to Stratus Video for an interview about the app, their strategy for moving forward, and their thoughts on a variety of questions many sign language interpreters posed as they learned about the app’s official release. In a telephone interview, Brandon spoke with Kathryn Jackson, Vice President of Language Operations, joined by Tom Thompson, Executive Director of Stratus InPerson, and Kate Pascucci, Director of Marketing.

Stratus Video has been in the process of developing their InPerson app in response to growing evidence that while VRI (video remote interpreting) can be beneficial in many situations, it is not always the best fit for patients, hospital personnel, or interpreters using signed and/or spoken languages. While they recognize that the avenues used to provide interpreters can be important and impact the success or failure of a given interaction, Stratus believes that “even though the products are exciting, we know we are really providing interpreting services.”

Initially slated to roll out to hospitals and courts, Stratus’ InPerson app is designed as an added support for current, on-demand interpreting services provided via video. Leveraging technology to create a new model for interpreting may reduce costs for medical and other facilities while maintaining market rates of pay for interpreters, according to Tom Thompson.

Stratus believes that by considering the needs of all parties – the patient/consumer of interpreting services, the interpreter, and the requesting entity – the InPerson app, combined with Stratus video services can be a win-win-win. Over the last two years, Stratus met with groups of interpreters and administrators to ensure they were getting the big picture. A successful release of the app could signify a radical change for sign language interpreters in a marketplace that has already been impacted by video technology and other technological advances.

How Does the Stratus InPerson App Work?

Onboarding Interpreters

For interpreting professionals, downloading the app from the Apple iTunes Store or Google Play is free. The first screen allows practitioners to “Register as an Interpreter” and requires interpreters to answer a variety of questions to provide specific information which will be used to determine assignment offerings based on the needs and requirements of the requestor. Once the interpreter’s information is entered, a Stratus team member will contact them to verify the validity of credentials, skill sets, experience, education, etc. When an interpreter is vetted and approved, they will be entered into the network as an independent contractor and can begin accepting assignments sent to them via the app.

Requesting Interpreters

On the provider side, the facility can put out a request for an interpreter via the InPerson app, as well. After determining the language need, the facility provides the time(s) needed, the specific location within the facility, rate(s) of pay, special instructions, and other pertinent information so that the job can be broadcast out to interpreters who meet the criteria for the job. Requestors also have the ability to create groupings based on the practitioner pools they have. If there are preferred interpreters, staff interpreters or interpreters with specialized skill sets, the requests can be filtered accordingly.

Accepting Assignments

Once an interpreter is accepted into the network, they will be able to accept jobs which are broadcast out to them based on the different sets of criteria created by the practitioner and/or the requesting agency. Job assignments are made on a “first come, first serve” basis. If an interpreter meets the criteria and they are available, the rate is appropriate, etc., they can click on “Accept This Job.”

After the interpreter accepts the job, they receive the details and the facility is notified that the job has been assigned, and to whom. The interpreter’s profile will be provided to the facility – they can see a photo of the interpreter so that when they show up, the team knows what the interpreter looks like and has an idea of their level of experience and credentials. The photo also assists when the interpreter arrives so that assigned team members can identify them right away and escort them to the assignment.

Notably, the InPerson App does not include patient/client information due to HIPAA rules and other privacy concerns. Thompson stated, “In terms of the platform itself, there is no patient data that comes across our platform…you are never going to find their name or room number, or any information about a patient anywhere in the system.” Interpreters can accept an assignment and then request additional information directly from the requesting entity. If upon further investigation, the interpreter feels they will not be a good match for the job, they can notify the requestor at that time.

Credentialing and Issue Resolution

While Stratus doesn’t have established credentialing requirements, they do follow the requirements of the facilities who utilize their services. Once a facility signs on, Stratus will onboard interpreters based on adherence to client needs. In terms of quality assurance, Thompson emphasized that there is a review process for both the interpreter and the facility which Stratus will oversee on their end. By allowing for a review process, issues can be managed quickly to ensure happy providers and practitioners. In the course of the interview, there was no specific mention of a review process for consumers.

In addition to the review process following each completed assignment, there is an option on the app to “Open an Issue,” which is a more serious type of monitoring. Both sides can open an issue which allows for investigation and pro-active work to resolve problems before they worsen. An issue, according to Stratus, is usually considered a more serious professional issue – the interpreter does not meet the qualifications for the assignment, the interpreter is late or unprofessional, etc. While not stated in the interview, this may be one avenue for consumer input regarding various interpreters.

Billing and Payment

According to Thompson, Stratus recognizes that each location is different in terms of interpreter rates. Bearing that in mind, Stratus doesn’t set the rates, rather they investigate the market and make recommendations to facilities who are signing on to use their service. Thompson was quick to dismiss Uber comparisons by pointing out that Stratus is not looking for a race to the bottom; instead, they are looking to open markets up for interpreters, hospitals, and courtrooms and for those in need of interpreting services, stating, “We have to make sure that it works for everybody, or it’s not going to work.”

Reportedly, interpreters have responded favorably to the idea that Stratus jobs are paid regularly in two-week intervals whether the requesting entity has paid Stratus for services or not. This kind of revenue stability is attractive to interpreters who often work with variable payment schedules and have to spend much of their time chasing revenue.

Questions Linger

Whether you are an early adopter or reluctant latecomer, the technology this new app represents and the marketing strategies explored are, without a doubt, the wave of the future in many industries. For a high-touch, high context, specialized field like sign language interpreting where tradition and change go head-to-head on a regular basis, it is imperative that we explore all angles. Could one of these new technologies lead to better solutions? Questions linger regarding long-standing, hard-won standards of practice, ownership of quality standards, interpreter/consumer matches, inclusion of the linguistic minority cultures served, the use of CDIs, the “first come, first hired” methodology, etc.

Here are some of the most common questions/concerns posed when the Stratus InPerson App press release first came out. Most are not specific to the particular company/app but address the more global issues sign language interpreter referral has been facing for some time.

Confidentiality

As one of the most fundamental, foundational values of the Deaf and interpreting communities, confidentiality is always one of the most critical concepts to address.

As previously mentioned, the InPerson app does not provide patient/client information as one of the ways Stratus can protect the privacy and confidentiality demands from medical and legal entities. Contractors and staff alike are asked to agree to confidentiality standards and are expected to adhere to them. As in traditional coordination, there is a level of inherent trust that interpreters will uphold the ethical standards of the field with avenues to pursue action should there be a need.

Quality Standards

Coordinating sign language interpreters is challenging under the most perfect of circumstances. One possible downside of the model Stratus is using may be in the “first come, first hired” methodology. If requesting entities are determining skill sets/required credentials, who’s to say that the “race to the bottom” isn’t just happening along a different road? This is one of the most common complaints lobbied at spoken language agencies who provide sign language interpreters. The interpreter is still self-identifying that they are qualified for the jobs they take and according to Stratus executives, the hiring entity is determining the quality and caliber of the interpreter hired for each assignment. On the other hand, Stratus InPerson App does allow requesters to select pools of interpreters. If those within the organization understand what they are looking for relative to interpreter quality, this can support and possibly enhance the quality of services currently being provided to consumers through direct contracts or more traditional interpreter referral agencies, particularly where schedulers do not know the interpreters personally.

Meeting Consumer Needs – Cultural, Linguistic, and Other

Another potential sticking point in placing sign language interpreters via an app lies in the lack of consumer information provided, particularly when focused on the medical, mental health and legal systems. These arenas are some of the most high-stakes interpreting possible with potentially life-altering results. Deaf and hard of hearing consumers are already faced with unknown interpreters, lack of practitioner continuity and poor matching based on availability and poor quality control. Coordination by app does not seem to resolve any of these issues, nor does it exacerbate them as this is currently one of the many Everests interpreter coordinators face on a daily basis.

According to the interview, Stratus interpreters who use the InPerson app would be able to do some follow up with the hiring entity to ensure good matches are made and no conflicts of interest arise, however, those same opportunities exist now and are not always utilized. If the requestor does not know the patient/consumer history with an interpreter or the skills needed to interpret accurately and effectively in a specific arena, they may not be able to answer questions if the interpreter asks them.

One question interpreters posted online after reading the initial press release was, “How can the Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual participate in the hiring of the interpreter? Is there an avenue for that?” No mention was made of this path in our interview with Stratus. If consumer preferences could be captured, how would that work? What would it have to look like for buy-in from the Deaf and Interpreting communities?

Teaming/Use of CDIs

When questioned about the use of teaming or the utilization of CDIs when needed, Stratus representatives were supportive of the professional decision-making of the interpreter. Kathryn Jackson stated, “They can, and should, share their professional opinions with the administrators, and make those requests. And certainly we’ve always supported that – the idea of teaming, the idea of getting CDIs…for the interpreter to do their most effective work.” Again, this is not that different from current standards in jobs which are booked for under one hour. If interpreters find themselves in circumstances where they need a team or the expertise of a CDI, they must advocate for that in the moment, which may or may not happen, and may or may not be successful.

Standards for Pay

Stratus reports that they will go into a market to research current pay rates for interpreters as opposed to researching agency mark-ups which might allow for undercutting. Once a recommended standard rate of pay is determined, this is communicated to the hiring entities to maximize fill rates. Basically, Stratus does the homework to find out what rates interpreters will accept for specific types of work and then transparently charges an administrative fee of $15/hour to facilitate the assignment of interpreters via the app. In theory, the volume of work increases, the middle man (agency) is eliminated thus resulting in lower rates for the requestors, more work for the interpreters and a steady stream of income for Stratus.

While the plan outlined by Stratus makes sense on paper, how does it really work if an entity decides to pay something other than the recommended rate? Obviously, fill rates are on the minds of coordinators, but what happens to the consumer if the hourly rate paid to interpreters is the highest priority? What are the mechanisms that would prevent a vendor from going for the lowest rate as a matter of course?

An additional concern is the vastness of the task. The amount of work required to act as an insider in every market is exhaustive and requires feet on the ground talking to interpreters, hospitals, and other contracting entities. While this methodology sounds like it could have some positive outcomes, how long will it last? If those involved in the process of information-gathering are spread too thin, will their work to facilitate an average rate remain on point? If this model of business becomes unsustainable, what comes next?

Calling All Stakeholders: Dialogue is Key

Our interview with Stratus Video provided valuable insight into their process and perspectives on finding alternatives to traditional interpreter referral and the increasingly utilized VRI solution. Their app works to bridge the gap between the two in the face of evidence that one size does not fit all. Stratus’ research on market needs, local sign language interpreter rates and the leveraging of geolocation technology all point towards new horizons in the business of sign language interpreter provision. While technology like Stratus’ InPerson app challenges our views on vetting, contracting, billing, and other aspects of service provision, it also creates opportunities for dialogue. As Jackson sagely stated, “Anytime there’s something new, there is always going to be a bit of fear, and it’s okay…I think it’s healthy to always have debate; I think it’s healthy to challenge ourselves, and it’s always good to get together in a room and talk about stuff.”  

To be sure, the explosion of technology in the last decade has altered the course of both the practice and the business of sign language interpreting. Whether one eschews or embraces it, this redefinition brings an opportunity for stakeholders to come to the table and consider the impact of new technologies and methodologies on the work sign language interpreters do in support of the Deaf Community.

Questions for consideration:

  1.  How does “referral by app” impact patients and practitioners? Are there hidden human or financial costs/benefits?
  2. Can this type of technology support traditional interpreter provision? Are there ways to combine traditional referral techniques with apps which enhance speed and may lower costs?
  3. How can practitioners, consumers, and vendors work together to ensure that these types of technological advances explore all perspectives and possibilities?
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2016 Reboot: 7 Must Have Apps for Sign Language Interpreters

7 Must Have Apps for Sign Language Interpreters

With apps available for everything, recommendations can narrow the search. In his 2016 reboot, Brandon Arthur highlights apps that make communication, commuting and productivity easier, faster and safer for sign language interpreters.

 

What a difference a few years make! In 2013, StreetLeverage featured Leave Now, Google Maps, Evernote, Expensify and Bump as must-have apps. In the years since that post, daily life for even the most tech-averse sign language interpreter has evolved. As a group, sign language interpreters are likely some of the most teched-up, tech-savvy professionals around. It’s probably hard for most of us to remember what life was like before we had the ability to manage the intersection of our work and personal lives with the swipe of a finger.

With the bazillions of apps released annually, which ones are particularly useful for sign language interpreters? Below are seven more apps that may help you communicate more effectively, reclaim some of your sanity, and be more productive in the process.

1. Glide

“Live Video Messenger. Experience lightning fast, back and forth video chat.”

I still remember the horrifying moment when a Deaf colleague said, “Wow. You are really behind the times. You need to get Glide. Send me a message when you do.” I later learned that the first Deaf Interpreter Conference was planned entirely through Glide communication. There is no better match of technology and sign language interpreter than the Glide app. Combine the perfection of being able to send messages in ASL to Deaf friends and colleagues with Glide’s interest in supporting the Deaf community and you have a no-brainer.

Here is just one example of the way Glide is engaging with the Deaf Community: Dear Hearing People – video made by Glider users and Glide Community Manager, Sarah Snow.  

Cost:  FREE  

Downloads Available: App store, Google Play, Microsoft Store

Info: http://www.glide.me/

2. Uber

“Uber is the smartest way to get around. One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver knows exactly where to go. And payment is completely cashless.

Another ubiquitous app attending to users in the Deaf community is Uber. As the popularity of Uber spreads, so, too, do opportunities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing drivers. For sign language interpreters who prefer not to use a personal vehicle or want to move between assignments without paying the high price of urban parking, supporting Uber gets you there quickly and inexpensively while supporting the Deaf ecosystem. What more could you want in a free app?

Watch this latest example of Uber’s work to support the Deaf community.

Cost:  FREE 

Downloads Available: App store, Google Play, Microsoft Store

Info: https://www.uber.com/

3. Cyberdust

Private Messaging. Private Networking. Send private, encrypted, disappearing messages to friends or co-workers.”

Private, encrypted texting which disappears after reading, Cyberdust’s app supports one of the major values of sign language interpreters – confidentiality. Messages disappear after they are read and do not touch any hard drive in the process. Unlike other “private” messaging apps, Cyberdust messages are not stored. Unread messages disappear after 24 hours.

Cost:  FREE 

Downloads Available: App store, Google Play, Microsoft Store

Info: www.cyberdust.com

4. SignEasy

Many sign language interpreters have to manage multiple invoices, forms and other pieces of vital business paperwork. SignEasy allows you to sign documents in various formats from almost anywhere.  Easy to use, this app’s most basic form is free, but for additional features, users will have to pay a fee.

Cost:  FREE for basic functions

Downloads Available: App store, Google Play, Desktop download

Info: http://getsigneasy.com

5. Tasker

Looking for an Android enabled app that does everything but fix the kitchen sink? Tasker may just be the one you want. Listed as one of the most powerful productivity apps available, Tasker has more than 200 different actions including LED flashing for text messages, a screen dimmer you set for specific times of the day, and home screen buttons you can program to send standard text messages like “on-the-way-home”. Most reviews indicate there is a learning curve, but this app may be worth it.

Cost:  FREE 

Downloads Available: Google Play for Android

Info: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.dinglisch.android.taskerm&hl=en

6. Dictionary

Language is every interpreter’s superpower, except when it isn’t. Need a pronunciation or a definition while you are stuck in the basement of a University classroom with no signal? This Dictionary app works offline, so definitions, word spellings, origins, and synonyms are literally at your fingertips. With more than 2,000,000 English language definitions, you can find idioms, slang, and specialized vocabulary to suit any interpreting situation. With the Dictionary app, you’ll always be wearing your smarty pants.

Cost:  FREE 

Downloads Available: App store, Google Play

Info: http://www.dictionary.com/apps

7. SafeTrek

While we hope that sign language interpreters don’t find themselves in risky situations, SafeTrek is an app that can keep you safe. There are times when interpreters have felt unsafe walking back to their car after a late appointment or find themselves in other uncomfortable circumstances. With a “Hold until safe” button, users let go of the phone in the event something happens, activating the phone to call the police. SafeTrek has been highly rated as one of the top safety apps available.

Cost: Free 30 day trial/$2.99 per month or $29.99 annually  

Downloads Available: App store, Google Play

Info: http://www.safetrekapp.com

Harness Your Life One App at a Time

As sign language interpreters, we have a keen sense that time is our most valuable asset. I am hopeful that you will find these apps helpful in adding time back to your life.

After all, in a world that is increasingly busy, anything that takes our mind off of the logistics of the job, enhances our ability to communicate effectively and efficiently, and helps us focus on the work at hand is a good thing, no?

What apps have made a difference managing your work?

 

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Voluntary Accountability: A StreetLeverage – Live Wrap-Up

StreetLeverage - Live 2016

StreetLeverage – Live 2016 may be over, but the takeaways linger; sights set on possibilities, participants shared generosity and perspective while looking at critical issues impacting the field of interpreting. Here’s a brief look at some highlights from the weekend.

 

#CommunityisAccountability

In the world of sign language interpreting, time is a precious commodity. The beauty of StreetLeverage – Live is that it provides opportunity to press pause on the day-to-day and allows us to step away to gain enough distance and perspective to recognize where change is needed and how we might personally contribute.

This year, StreetLeverage provided a pause April 15-17, 2016 in Fremont, CA. Holding this space allowed those in attendance to tap into a deeper understanding of accountability and what is possible when we choose to voluntarily hold ourselves accountable in our own careers and in the industry as a whole.

It is in these moments when we are wrestling with the decision to step up that change is being formulated.

While there are no easy answers, participants, presenters, partners, and organizers all came together seeking community, where they could explore and share ideas, perspectives and challenges and posit solutions for moving forward. In seeking higher standards and better outcomes, there is also an acceptance that there is no finish line – there is only forward progress.

What Community Can Do Together – Supporting the Future

#CommunityisAccountability struck a chord in StreetLeverage – Live 2016 participants on Friday night as evidenced by the nearly $10,000 in donations for the California School for the Deaf, Fremont’s Student Leadership Programs for Students of Color. Preserving and protecting programs and schools like these is critical and StreetLeverage is proud to facilitate this opportunity. Generosity is contagious.

National Treasure – Ella Mae Lentz

In an effort to recognize those who have enriched the fundamental assets of Deaf Culture, ASL, and the field of sign language interpreting, StreetLeverage created a National Treasure Award. Recognizing these outstanding individuals who epitomize accountability is an opportunity to highlight those in the field who have dedicated their lives to acting as agents of change.

StreetLeverage was honored to celebrate Ella Mae Lentz, the 2016 StreetLeverage National Treasure Award recipient.

Live Stream Access – Reaching Out to the Future

This year, StreetLeverage charted a new course for Live Stream access in an effort to extend the message #CommunityIsAccountability beyond the walls of the hotel in Fremont, CA. In addition to the new opportunity to participate in the Main Sessions via Live Stream, StreetLeverage was proud to partner with CIT to extend Live Stream access to all students enrolled in sign language interpreting programs in the U.S. and to partner with WASLI to extend the opportunity to its members living outside of North America.

The Power of Voluntary Accountability

Shaping a better future for the field of sign language interpreting requires open and honest dialogue and a commitment to accountability.

Conversation Catalysts

We are inspired by those courageous enough to articulate their ideas, perspectives and thoughts and who stood up front as catalysts for the many insightful conversations which unfolded during the course of the weekend. Our sincere thanks to:

Ben Bahan Marty Taylor Pamela Collins
MJ Bienvenu Aaron Brace Jackie Emmart
Ritchie Bryant Jimmy Beldon Wayne Betts, Jr.
Event Architects

Behind all of the insight and perspective, there is a team of people dedicated to the running of cables, the nitty-gritty minutia, the back-stage and back-office details that make an event run smoothly.

For their ingenuity, tenacity and dedication to creating an environment where courageous and free-flowing dialogue helps formulate change, we salute our LiveCorps staff and volunteers. May there be more tippy-toes than deep as you work to regain balance in your lives post event. Our deepest gratitude to these event architects who flip the switch which illuminates StreetLeverage – Live.

Core Staff
Tara Arthur Sean Benson Kristy Bradley
Dee Collins Jenna Gorman Kelly Ker
Erica Kramer Cassie Lang Tom Lauterborn
John Lestina, Jr Diane Lynch Jean Miller
Deborah Perry Lance Pickett Jason Smith
Student Volunteers from American River College and Ohlone College

Volunteers - Live 2016

Becky Alcantara Brittany Arnold Kate Clark
Rey Duprey Lisa Gomez Jenny Gove
Jay Jempson Lindsay Kram Gabriela Loera
Catherine Lowry Jessica Luna Sean Roberstson
Jarice Starbuck

#PartnersAreLeverage

The foundational commitment of our vision partners allows StreetLeverage to extend thought leadership to the field of sign language interpreting. These partners support the space and belief that change can happen, not only via resources, but through their dedication and commitment to voluntary accountability. Our profound thanks to:

Access Interpreting | Washington, D.C.

Bay Area Communication Access  | San Francisco, CA

Conference of Interpreter Trainers 

Convo |  Pleasanton, CA

Deaf Access Solutions  | Bethesda, MD

Deaf Counseling Advocacy and Referral Agency | San Leandro, CA

Hawaii Interpreting Service | Kaneohe,  HI

Linguabee | Fremont, CA

Northern California Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf | Oakland, CA

Partners in Communication | San Francisco, CA

Partners Interpreting  | Plainville, MA

Professional Interpreting Enterprise | Greenfield, WI

Purple Communications | Rocklin, CA

Sign Language Resources | Newburgh, NY

Sorenson Communications | Salt Lake City, UT

St. Catherine University | St. Paul, MN

Connect With Us

Share StreetLeverage - Live via Social Media

If you haven’t done so, we hope you will take this opportunity to subscribe to receive our weekly posts in your inbox and connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We are committed to continuing the dialogue that occurred during the Live event and hope you will connect with us regularly to share your insight, perspective, and experience in order to enhance the practice of sign language interpreting. #CommunityisAccountability #WeAreLeverage

#WeAreLeverage

A community of people committed to possibility creates a powerful foundation for change. Those who attended StreetLeverage – Live 2016 stepped into their accountability by choice, opening their minds to new thoughts, perspectives, and approaches in the field of sign language interpreting. The hashtag #WeAreLeverage calls us all to utilize our collective influence to hold ourselves and our colleagues to a higher standard, to strive for more, and to live up to the ideals which brought us to this field in the first place. We were reminded that #CommunityIsAccountability and that, indeed, the work sign language interpreters do impacts people’s lives. Our hope is that these weekend conversations stir participants to generate thought and dialogue long after settling back into regular life.

Sincere thanks to all who participated in StreetLeverage – Live 2016.

Stay tuned for announcements for StreetLeverage – Live 2017. Coming soon!

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6 Presentations That Will Make You a Better Sign Language Interpreter

6 Presentations That Will Make You a Better Sign Language Interpreter

Sign language interpreters constantly strive to be better practitioners. Often it is a flash of perspective that gives context to the challenges they face and assists them in moving along their path to actualization.

 

Let’s admit it, being a sign language interpreter can be tough. Sometimes a little sprinkle of perspective can contextualize the challenges we face as practitioners. From language fluency to connecting with the community, from confronting social justice issues and inaccurate assumptions to maintaining our integrity and leaving a legacy, these flashes of insight can lead us to becoming the interpreters we aspire to be. What follows are sprinkles of goodness that will, in fact, make you a better sign language interpreter.

1.  Dennis Cokely | Sign Language Interpreters: The Importance of the Day Before

Dennis Cokely

In his StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta presentation, Sign Language Interpreters: The Importance of the Day Before, Dennis Cokely discusses the dangers of unchallenged assumptions and the “one thing” sign language interpreters must always remember in order to render more effective, meaningful, and culturally appropriate interpretations.

View the ASL, English and PPT here.

2.  Deb Russell | Sign Language Interpreters: Discover & Recover an Enduring Legacy

Debra Russell

Deb Russell’s StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta presentation, Sign Language Interpreters: Discover & Recover an Enduring Legacy, recognizes the importance of uncovering and acknowledging the contributions and traits of leaders who have significantly impacted the field of interpreting. In order to move forward, we must first understand where we have come from.

View the ASL, English, and PPT here.

3.  Betty Colonomos | Sign Language Interpreters: Fostering Integrity

Betty Colonomos

In her presentation, Sign Language Interpreters: Fostering Integrity, from StreetLeverage – Live | Atlanta, Betty Colonomos defines integrity and highlights the critical need for accountability in the field of sign language interpreting.

View the ASL, English and PPT here.

4.  Doug Bowen Bailey | Transforming Perspectives: The Power of One-to-One Conversations For Sign Language Interpreters

doug bowen bailey

Doug Bowen-Bailey’s StreetLeverage – Live | Austin presentation, Transforming Perspectives: The Power of One-to-One Conversations for Sign Language Interpreters, explores the concept of one-to-one conversations as a means of connecting with the Deaf community and other interpreters.

View the ASL, English, and PPT here.

5.  Trudy Suggs | Deaf Disempowerment and Today’s Interpreter

Trudy Suggs - Deaf Disempowerment and Today's Interpreter

Trudy Suggs’ StreetLeverage – Live | Baltimore presentation, Deaf Disempowerment and Today’s Interpreter, powerfully explores both financial and situational disempowerment within the Deaf Community.

View the ASL, English and PPT here. 

6.  MJ Bienvenu | Bilingualism: Are Sign Language Interpreters Bilinguals?

MJ Bienvenu - StreetLeverage - Live 2015

MJ Bienvenu’s StreetLeverage – Live | Austin presentation, Bilingualism: Are Sign Language Interpreters Bilingual?, explores the deeper questions involved in determining whether sign language interpreters are, in fact, bilingual.

View the ASL, English and PPT here.

The Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts

While these presentations represent a small part of the wisdom and insight shared at StreetLeverage – Live events, we hope this retrospective provides you with some tools, ideas and information to support your journey to becoming the sign language interpreter you’ve imagined yourself to be.

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StreetLeverage: A Story of Thanksgiving

Gratitude

 

The StreetLeverage story is YOUR story.

There is no way to tell the StreetLeverage story without attempting to identify a large number of people and to rehearse every small, seemingly insignificant act of generosity which, when woven together, creates a multiplier which has compounded these acts into something beautiful.

This generosity open doors for us to learn, enjoy and share this work. It allows us to connect with amazingly talented, committed, inspired and inspiring people.

Generosity, large and small, is the connective tissue which binds everything together at StreetLeverage. Every event attendee and volunteer, every fully formulated post and idea shared, and every reader who likes, shares or tweets ideas to their peers and co-workers, demonstrates that spirit. With each decision, offer, invitation, open door and open mind, a space has been created for opportunity, for discovery, for expanding possibilities in the field of sign language interpreting.

We are grateful to all the individuals who participate in and support the StreetLeverage endeavor. Without your contributions, this task would be insurmountable. 

It is with grateful hearts that StreetLeverage says a hearty and heartfelt, “Thank You!”

Related Posts:

The Power of “Thank You”: Sign Language Interpreters and Gratitude by Jean Miller

Sign Language Interpreters: Discover & Recover an Enduring Legacy by Debra Russell

Sign Language Interpreters and the Karma of Gratitude by Brandon Arthur

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Hearing Interpreters: The Danger of Being the Public Face of ASL

Hearing Interpreters the danger of being the public face of ASL

When ASL is seen publicly, it is often vis-à-vis hearing sign language interpreters. Aaron Brace examines the impact this has on public perceptions of ASL, and suggests strategies that create opportunities for Deaf interpreters to authentically represent their language and culture.

I’ve been asked a few times by family and friends to explain what was going on when a CDI/hearing team delivered the interpretation of NY City Mayor de Blasio’s press conference on Ebola. The very notion that Deaf people can work as professional sign language interpreters is new for most hearing people; indeed, if they see ASL at all, it’s usually hearing interpreters like me, or signed music videos of questionable value (also by hearing people) on social media.

[Click to view post in ASL]

One of the reasons I sometimes have a hard time explaining this service model is that feeling of an existential threat, which doesn’t necessarily disappear just because I know it to be false. But another reason, which I’d like to focus on here, is that I haven’t fully come to grips with the implications of hearing sign language interpreters like me being the public face of ASL. Rather than learning how to do it better, I’m learning how to let it go.

Navigating the Changing Dynamics in Interpreting

I first began thinking about hearing sign language interpreters as the public face of ASL a number of years ago. Like many who are reading this, I’ve been one of the go-to interpreters for public-facing work for most of my career. Although my focus has always been on serving the people relying on my work, I’ve found myself enjoying the opportunities to stand out, to be trusted in jobs where my work would be broadly seen. I’ve enjoyed the positive feedback afterward, the status it has given me among my colleagues, and the chance to share what I’ve learned about ASL and the Deaf community. For a large part of my career, that was simply the water I swam in. I didn’t consider that there was anything else. After a while, as painful as it is to admit this, I began to think it was my right.

I have also regularly worked at conferences for national and international organizations. I have typically been on stage at their conferences, handling keynote presentations as well as presentations by other prominent speakers.  There came a time, though, when several of these organizations, with Deaf people in decision-making roles, decided that Deaf interpreters were to be on stage at all plenary sessions. I was relegated to small breakout sessions and working into English through a closed loop; I wasn’t on stage any more. It took me longer than I like to admit to get over losing the opportunity to do the plenary work, but I had the presence of mind to observe the work being done by the Deaf interpreters. Sure, the quality varied, but so much of the work that I saw was exemplary, and qualitatively superior to what I, or other hearing colleagues, typically produce.

More importantly, that model of service was chosen for high-profile work due to the involvement and leadership of knowledgeable Deaf people. Not only did they consider what would best serve the participants, but, surely, they were also influenced by the desire to authentically represent Deaf people’s language and culture to a broader audience.

Positioning My Ability

Like others, I began calling my work ‘bilingual/bicultural mediation’ soon after that terminology entered our professional discourse. Of course, that’s how the researchers in our field began describing what effective interpreting should be. It never crossed my mind that I was lacking the ASL fluency and cultural competency needed to actually do that kind of work. A Deaf friend recently told me that applicants to Gallaudet’s MA Program in Teaching ASL have to pass the ASL Proficiency Interview at a level 4 or higher…before beginning their studies. It took him three tries. Not only would I have failed to meet that bar before I began training, I’m quite confident I couldn’t meet it now.

I’m not qualified to go on about theories of bilingualism. I mention it only because it has become clear to me that the general public is primed to impute to me, to all hearing interpreters, a level of linguistic and cultural mastery that I simply don’t possess. Even if I’m relatively aware of the limits of what I have to offer, I don’t quite know how to articulate them to hearing people in a way that won’t undermine both their confidence in me as well as my own. Silence speaks volumes, as I already have the glamour of the words ‘professional’ and ‘interpreter’, and letters after my name. Oh, and I’m hearing. That’s probably the biggest factor in eliciting other hearing people’s high opinion of work they don’t understand.

This became painfully clear to me once, when I told one of my sisters that I’d be interpreting a play with a team that included a Deaf person as our Sign Master. She looked puzzled and said, “After all this time, Aaron, isn’t that what people ought to be calling you?” It was embarrassing to realize that I had never positioned my profession, myself, or, my ability to her in a way that she could have thought any differently. To her, I was the exemplar of ASL fluency. Who knows? Maybe I need to believe my own hype in order to have the nerve to do this kind of work at all.

Shifting The Focus

I realized recently that the more effort I put into preparing to interpret something like a play, the more I begin to worry. I worry not only that the hearing audience may think they’re seeing me produce a work of ASL literature, but that I might even start to believe it myself- all without anyone saying out loud that’s what we’re thinking. I worry that the Deaf poets, actors, storytellers, translators, teachers, and the friends I try to emulate in these instances will have far fewer chances than I, if any, to stand before a similar audience, with the same authority that’s imputed to me – but which I have only borrowed from them.

When I stand up at a public or televised event before a predominantly hearing crowd, on a real or virtual stage, under a real or virtual spotlight, I worry that some ASL student will decide to become a sign language interpreter in an effort to seek out the same kind of attention that I’ve realized I can be overly fond of.

But when a qualified, certified Deaf interpreter, like the one working at the Ebola press conference, gets asked questions about what interpreting is and how it serves the Deaf community, I don’t worry so much. Not only because his answers are likely to contain observations I couldn’t legitimately make, but also because it begins to shatter hearing people’s frequently-held stereotype of Deaf people as needy receivers of information. Deaf children also benefit from seeing qualified Deaf professionals modeling one way to represent their language and culture. If we quibble that not all CDIs are as experienced, or as able to give a good account of our profession, well…that’s never stopped the rest of us, has it?

Stepping out of the Spotlight

In her article, Are Hearing Interpreters Responsible to Pave the Way for Deaf Interpreters?, Anna Mindess listed some excellent, practical steps for us to take in expanding opportunities and visibility for CDIs.  In addition to hers, I’d like to add a few more. Some of these I’ve already implemented for myself, others are aspirational. Some may be more practical in some geographic areas than others:

  • work with Deaf colleagues and the local Deaf community to determine what an increased public presence of Deaf signers, including but not limited to CDIs, might look like and how to work towards making that presence a reality;
  • enlist as allies any hearing hiring agents who understand the value of CDIs;
  • consider working, on occasion, for reduced rates or pro bono in order to get more hiring entities to try using Deaf/hearing interpreting teams. This may be a controversial idea, but I believe that, used judiciously, it can be an effective tactic in getting more native ASL out where hearing people will see it;
  • share exceptional Deaf- or Coda-made videos on social media, along with a description to hearing friends of what makes them exceptional.
  • And finally, develop the reflex to step aside and team with a qualified Deaf colleague at every opportunity that comports with your own community’s values. Deaf people, even CDIs, may disagree strongly about when it’s necessary or even just preferred to have a Deaf face as the public face of ASL. It’s a process. I choose not to hinder that process, but to foster it.
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Institute on Legal Interpreting: Backstage Access for Sign Language Interpreters

Anna Witter-Merithew Bids Farewell to ILI Attendees

Anna Witter-Merithew Bids Farewell to ILI Attendees

Is it possible to create a learning environment that effectively supports taking 220+ sign language interpreters on a guided exploration of their work, while offering real-world advice on how to enhance this work, and do it all in three days? Prior to attending the 2014 Institute on Legal Interpreting (ILI) in Denver, Colorado August 21st-23rd, I would have said, Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

If you attended the 2014 ILI you know, not only is it possible, it happened and was amazing!

Behind the Scenes

StreetLeverage is excited to have partnered with Anna Witter-Merithew and the good folks at the MARIE Center to extend backstage access to the 2014 ILI. What follows is a summary of the StreetLeverage coverage.

How ILI Got Started

Anna Witter-Merithew sat down and shared how the Institute on Legal Interpreting got started, the important role of Deaf interpreters at ILI, and the significant contribution made by Diane Fowler in the promotion of advanced legal training for sign language interpreters.

Anna Witter-Merithew Sits Down With Brandon Arthur From StreetLeverage

 

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Setting the Tone

During any type of guided exploration, it is important to set a tone of collaboration and safety. This task was left to keynote speakers and meta facilitators, Carol-lee Aquiline and Sharon Neumann Solow.

They sat down and shared their hopes for conference attendees and their excitement to see Deaf and Hearing interpreters exploring strategies to effectively work together.

Carol and Sharon 2



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You can watch both their keynote and endnote addresses below.

Keynote | Looking Out – Looking In – Reaching: The Role and Function of Critical Analysis of Interpreting Performance

Keynote Address: Carol-lee Aquiline and Sharon Neumann Solow

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Endnote | Looking Out – Looking In – Reaching: Next Steps

Carol-lee Aquiline and Sharon Neumann Solow - Endnote Address



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Interpreters at the Core

At the center of the conference was the examination of the work of 5 teams of sign language interpreters comprised of Deaf-Hearing and Hearing-Hearing interpreters. This served as the basis of examination for all sessions and group discussions.

These good interpreters shared insights into their teaming and work experience during two panel sessions. You can watch them here:

Panel One: Deaf-Hearing Interpreting Team Reflections

ILI Panel One: Reflections on Deaf and Hearing Interpreter Teams



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Panel Two: Deaf-Hearing Interpreting Team Reflections on Preparation Sessions

ILI Panel Two: Deaf-Hearing Interpreter Team Reflections on Preparation Sessions



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Better with a Deaf Team

A prominent theme running throughout the conference was the importance of Deaf and Hearing interpreters working together effectively as a team. Jimmy Beldon, Carla Mathers and Kelby Brick share insights into how to this can be done effectively.

Jimmy Beldon Offers Insight on Supporting Deaf Interpreters and the Importance of the ILI

Jimmy Beldon Offers Insight on Supporting Deaf Interpreters and the Importance of the ILI



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Carla Mathers Shares About the Work of Bringing the 2014 ILI to Life

Carla Mathers Shares About the Work of Bringing the 2014 ILI to Life



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Kelby Brick Sits Down With Brandon Arthur at the 2014 ILI

Kelby Brick at the 2014 ILI Conference

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The Diane Fowler Award

With the passing of Legal Eagle, Diane Fowler, founder of the Iron Sharpens Iron conference (the precursor to the ILI), the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Legal Interpreter Member Section (LIMS) Chair, Liz Mendoza, announced the establishment of the Diane Fowler Award.

Liz Mendoza Announces the Creation of the Diane Fowler Award



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Noteworthy

There are a couple of real standout developments at the 2014 ILI.  The ILI had 54 Deaf interpreters attend over the weekend. This is the largest of gathering of Deaf interpreters in the field in recent memory (maybe, ever). Perhaps, it is because, in the words of Jimmy Beldon, “The ILI is a ‘home’ for CDIs.”

Deaf Interpreters at the 2014 ILI











The 2014 ILI had 26 facilitators working throughout the weekend in order to support and encourage meaningful discussion and learning. These folks deserve a medal of honor for their tremendous work.

2014 ILI Facilitators






StreetTeam

The coverage at the Institute on Legal Interpreting was only possible with the support of several amazing and talented people. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to those magic makers that brought the ILI coverage to life.

StreetTeam - 2014 ILI

 

 

 

 

 


Special thanks (left to right) to: Lance Pickett, Jean Miller, Kristy Bradley, John Lestina, and Wing Butler (not seen here).

Conclusion

I would like to extend my thanks to Anna Witter-Merithew, Carla Mathers, and the good folks at the MARIE Center for their vision and the opportunity to partner with them to extend the reach of the ILI to the broader Deaf and sign language interpreting communities.

Brandon Arthur | Closes up the StreetLeverage Coverage of the 2014 ILI

Brandon Arthur Closes up the StreetLeverage Coverage of the 2014 Institute on Legal Interpreting

 

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Nelson Mandela: Have Sign Language Interpreters Disappointed the World?

Thamsanqa Jantjie, the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's funeral

The news of the “fake sign language interpreter” traveled the globe. But what of the everyday failings of systems that leave access by the wayside through lack of scrutiny? Brandon Arthur calls for specific action by sign language interpreters to monitor and ethically deploy qualified interpreters.

The terrible cocktail of “schizophrenia,” unethical business leadership, and uninformed government decision-makers that lead to the sign language interpreting debacle at Mandela’s memorial service is a tragedy.

As a sign language interpreter, I cringe at the thought that as a field, we are responsible for the world’s distraction from the celebration of one of the planet’s most widely recognized human rights leaders and for yet another injustice served up to the Deaf Community.

The question that continues to roll around in my head is after the tsunami of sensationalism, swarming armchair quarterbacks, and CYA puffery blows over is, what will change?

While Thamsanqa Jantjie is the current face of the issue, unqualified sign language interpreters deploying or being deployed into local communities around the globe is a longstanding and widespread problem. A problem that necessitates the cooperation of a multiplicity of industry stakeholders willing to put down their nursing agenda and be accountable for the breakdowns in the system that continue to allow this problem to persist.

Are we courageous enough as field, both practitioner and organization, to make the hard decisions necessary to truly eradicate the problem?

If we come away from this debacle truly resolved to create meaningful resolution to the issue of unqualified sign language interpreters infringing on the human rights of Deaf people, perhaps we should consider taking action on the following:

  1. Insist that industry stakeholders publicly and actively subscribe to upholding the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
  2. Incorporate the applicable aspects of the UNCRPD as part of the ethical practices system for working sign language interpreters. Further, to insist on more aggressive and timely actions for violations.
  3. Found a national organization to create, uphold and promote standards of practice for businesses deploying sign language interpreters.
  4. Establish a coalition responsible for a partnership between national associations serving the Deaf community, national organizations serving sign language interpreters, and organizations responsible for the public awareness of the rights of Deaf people and the roles and responsibility of sign language interpreters.
  5. Insist on local partnerships between Deaf and sign language interpreting organizations that result in the perpetuation of native perspectives among practicing sign language interpreters.

Care to add?

Thanks to Mandela for doing in death what he did in life, using his existence to raise awareness of the atrocities, injustices, and disadvantages suffered at the hand of privilege while working to make the world a more inhabitable place.

Let’s not allow the memory of Mandela’s memorial service to be one where the field of sign language interpreting disappointed the world. Let it be one where we honor Mandela’s life by rising from the ashes galvanized to end the rampant problem of unqualified practitioners infringing upon the human rights of Deaf people.

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5 Easy Career Enhancers for Sign Language Interpreters

Sign Language Interpreter Having Enhanced Their Career

What makes up a successful career as a sign language Interpreter? Brandon Arthur offers 5 simple steps that will add an important level of polish to your career.

What makes up a successful career as a sign language interpreter? Logically, it depends on who is asked. Regardless of what are ultimately determined to be the magic ingredients, those interpreters who are the most successful and satisfied in their work are those who consistently seek out opportunities to grow as a professional.

While this growth may seem like it is only possible over time, and time being an important part, I believe there are steps one can take to establish a foundation for success.

Below you will find 5 simple steps that will add an important level of polish to your career.

 1.  A Pro bono Injection.

Commit to accepting pro bono assignments. Notice I didn’t say volunteer? This commitment consciously moves us past the concerns for payment and terms and reconnects us with the fundamental reason we signed up to do this work—supporting people.

There is a tremendous satisfaction in knowing your work as a sign language interpreter has made a difference. Pro bono work will rewarm the goo inside, which will do wonders for your perspective on the work and your role in it.

Pro bono grants perspective.

2.  Forgo the CEUs.

Identify a couple of learning opportunities annually that you believe will genuinely enhance your daily work, sign up, and actively attend. At the conclusion of the learning, forgo the CEUs for the activity. Consciously decide that the learning was for the enhancement of your work as a sign language interpreter and ultimately the experience of those consuming that work.

There is a confidence that comes to the interpreter who hones their craft in the interest of those who use their service.

The right type of confidence is rewarded with abundant opportunity.

3.  Volunteer Your Time.

Take an opportunity to volunteer at least once per year at a community- or industry-related event. It is no secret that local, regional, and national organizations working in the interests of the Deaf community and sign language interpreters are under-resourced and depend on the generous acts of volunteers to support their work.

Become the change you want to see by lending a hand.  The connections made during these opportunities will serve you both short- and long-term.

 4.  Celebrate Your Colleagues.

For one week, commit to sending a handwritten note of appreciation to each of the sign language interpreters you encounter on the job. Specifically compliment them on what you appreciated about their work and what you enjoyed most about working with them.

Celebrating your colleagues in this way requires that you are conscious of the work done while together and that you recognize the talents your fellow interpreters bring to the field.

The karma of these acts of appreciation will come back to you tenfold.

5.  Set One Goal.

Take an opportunity to set one goal, big or small.  Set out and do that thing that you have wanted to do but haven’t made time for. When done, set another. The act of setting the goal and accomplishing it is very empowering. This empowerment will extend to your work and introduce you to new opportunities to challenge yourself, all of which will make you a more versatile sign language interpreter.

So, take that photography class. You might just be the next Jo Hilton!

In Short

The easiest approach to career enhancement for a sign language interpreter is through acts of conscious generosity. Through a willingness to give of your time, talents, and resources you will discover an abundance of opportunity to create a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve. It is in these opportunities that true career enhancement is possible.

What suggestions do you have on how to enhance the career of a sign language interpreter?