My name is Lydia Callis, and I am a RID nationally certified American Sign Language Interpreter. I am also an advocate for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Bringing people together is my passion, and I am honored to share it with the world!
My Native Language
Sign Language was my first language because my mother and three younger siblings are all profoundly deaf. At a time when there were no laws enacted to accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing, I saw the daily struggles my family members endured. Now that my deaf nieces are growing up, I know it is my duty to make sure this world is a better place with plenty of opportunities for them. I began interpreting to help my family communicate, and to make sure I stayed fluent in the language of my roots.
The Pursuit of Happiness
After graduating from Phoenix College with an Associates Degree in Interpreter Preparation and a Certificate in Deaf Studies, I held a staff interpreting position at the Rochester Institute of Technology for six years. Rochester, NY has the most deaf and hard of hearing individuals per capita in the United States, and a number of prestigious schools which cater to the deaf community. Training at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, I worked with and learned from some of the very best in the field. I graduated from NTID/RIT with a bachelors degree in ASL English Interpretation, and continued to work with the deaf community in Rochester for two more years. I then moved to New York City, to begin a new chapter in my life and career.
Professional ASL Interpreter
I founded LC Interpreting Services with the goal of consistently providing high quality, culturally-competent sign language interpreters. I am also associated with other reputable New York City interpreting agencies. Active involvement in the Deaf community and continuous professional development are critical to good job performance, so I strive to stay abreast current trends and practices in this evolving field.
Over the past few years, my job assignments have been wonderfully diverse! I’ve done a wide variety of medical, educational, legal, and business interpreting. I also had the distinct privilege of interpreting for the Connecticut Forum, and for the president of NTID in Washington, DC. I famously interpreted for former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, and have also worked for current Mayor De Blasio. I was requested as an interpreter on The View, Nick News, and the Food Network show Chopped.
Cultural Educator and Ally
As a CODA and interpreter, I feel it is very important to support the deaf and interpreting communities in any way possible. I work with both local and national groups to empower deaf individuals and educate the general population.
I have given a number of presentations in support of RIT/NTID, and am an active member of the NTID Alumni Association. In an effort to give back to the interpreting community, I serve as Chair of the NTID ASL Interpreter Education Board. I also serve as a secretary on the NYC Metro Board for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, helping to facilitate Governmental relations and advocacy work.
I am proud to be part of Access NYC; an ongoing effort between the Mayors Office of People with Disabilities, Commissioner of Disability, and prominent members of the Deaf /Hard of Hearing community. The goal of Access NYC is to establish provisions for differently abled tourists and citizens, so that everyone can enjoy what New York City has to offer– from everyday needs to entertainment events.
It is my personal goal to educate higher institutions about working with deaf employees and clients. I believe creating cultural awareness from the top down is the most effective method of establishing two-way communication between businesses and the deaf community. I now offer comprehensive cultural sensitivity training to help businesses understand how to integrate and get the most out of deaf employees.
I’ve volunteered my services for NYC Shakespeare in the Park, 5k charity events, and corporate cultural sensitivity training seminars. I’ve volunteered for LGBT advocacy groups, monthly meditation at the Community Mediation Center, and a number of cultural events around the city. Another project I gave my time to was a New York Times Interactive video about sign language and science.
Through my advocacy work, published articles, and social media platforms, I consistently strive to raise awareness about deaf culture in America. As a CODA and ASL interpreter, I feel I have been given the opportunity to educate and bridge the communication gap between the deaf and hearing worlds.
Between the shifting American social climate, and emerging technologies, deaf citizens are finally gaining the kind of access they deserve. But we still have a long way to go! It is my duty to aid in the fight for equality in any way possible.
American sign language is my passion and connecting people is my purpose! I’m humbled to serve both the Deaf and hearing communities through ASL interpreting services, ASL training, ASL mentoring, and active Deaf/ HoH advocacy.
Education, Certifications & Memberships
Associates Degree in Interpreter Preparation
Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Bachelor’s Degree in ASL-English Interpretation
Minor in Psychology/Concentration in Communication
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf: National Interpreter Certification
Phoenix College: Deaf Studies Certification
Phoenix College: ASL Pre-Employment Certification
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf: Metro RID Board – Secretary
National Technical Institute for the Deaf: ASL Interpreter Education – Alumni Board Chair