Author Archives: Lydia Callis

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Mark Your Calendar: International Week of the Deaf

international-week-of-the-deaf-2019-1For more than 60 years, the global Deaf community has united during the last full week of September to raise awareness about Deaf culture, Deaf language, and Deaf issues. International Week of the Deaf 2019 will run from September 23 through September 29 and will be celebrated by Deaf individuals from hundreds of countries around the world!

International Week of the Deaf first began in 1958 as a commemoration of the first Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. Recently added to this exciting week-long event is the International Day of Sign Languages, which is celebrated each year on September 23, marking the date that the World Federation of the Deaf was established in 1951.

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The theme of this year’s International Week of the Deaf is: Sign Language Rights for All! According to the World Federation of the Deaf “the campaign theme ensures that no one in the Deaf Community is left behind. It calls for decision makers to give linguistic rights to deaf people and all sign language users.” It is the position of the World Federation of the Deaf, as well as the National Association of the Deaf, and most Deaf education advocates around the globe, that access to sign language is a human right for those who have hearing loss, and denial of sign language is a form of oppression. The WFD Charter on Sign Language Rights for All elaborates on this in great detail.

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Time and again, studies have shown that there are only benefits for teaching signed languages to Deaf and hard of hearing individuals; particularly that early acquisition of a non-verbal language can help form neural pathways and mental processes that are critical for intellectual and emotional development in children. This year, WFD has assigned a specific sub-theme to each day. The schedule can be found below:


INTERNATIONAL WEEK OF THE DEAF 2019 SCHEDULE

Monday 9/23: Sign Language Rights for All!

Tuesday 9/24: Sign Language Rights for All Children

Wednesday 9/25: Sign Language Rights for Deaf Senior Citizens

Thursday 9/26: Sign Language Rights for Deafblind people

Friday 9/27: Sign Language Rights for Deaf Women

Saturday 9/28: Sign Language Rights for Deaf LGBTIQA+

Sunday 9/29: Sign Language Rights for Deaf Refugees


For additional information on the importance of each day, be sure to check out the Guidelines on Achieving Sign Language Rights for All!

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The week kicks off on the International Day of Sign Languages and dives deeper each day into specific populations. This will allow a more intersectional exploration of deafness and language rights issues within the extremely diverse Global Deaf Community. The following social media accounts may be posting updates, information, and discussions throughout International Week of the Deaf:

Official Hashtags: #IDSL2019 #IWDeaf2019

LCIS ( Twitter | Facebook )
National Association of the Deaf ( Twitter | Facebook )
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf ( Twitter | Facebook )
Deaf Women United ( Twitter | Facebook )
National Black Deaf Advocates ( Twitter | Facebook )
Rochester Institute of Technology – National Technical Institute of the Deaf ( Twitter | Facebook )
Gallaudet University ( Twitter | Facebook )
Why I Sign ( Facebook )

Language rights for those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing is a topic that cannot receive enough coverage. The World Health Organization estimates that around 466 million people worldwide have a disabling hearing loss — about 5% of the population — and that number does not include those living with mild to moderate hearing loss. For too long, the communication needs of this community have been disregarded, and as a result decisions about their health, their education, and their lives have been made without their fully informed consent.

international-week-of-the-deaf-2019-6The truth is that Deaf / HoH people can achieve whatever they put their minds to when they are able to access the world around them. Renowned Deafblind advocate Haben Girma stands as a testament that there are NO limits for those with disabilities, except for the narrow minds of those who cannot imagine new ways to accomplish things. Girma is a graduate from Harvard Law School, a surfer, a salsa dancer, a world traveler, and a published author who has been Deafblind since childhood.

More examples of incredibly talented Deaf individuals can be found in any of the articles below!

world-federation-of-deaf-logo-intl-week-deaf-5As people continue to acknowledge and then disassemble the old structures of oppression which make assumptions about a person based on their race, culture, language, gender, age, sexual preference, or disability, hopefully we will begin to see communication accessibility woven into the very fabric of society. Communication creates connection, and what the world needs now is unity!

Why Cultural Competency Training Matters

best-cultural-competency-training-consultant-nyc-01The experiences of marginalized people are being shared more widely than ever thanks to social media. This is certainly true within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, where people from all backgrounds can utilize various platforms to connect with an engaged audience and publicly share their everyday lives, their success stories, and unfortunate personal experiences of injustice.

Sometimes incidents of discrimination can occur at a business, which then places that organization under scrutiny for practices that limit diversity. This could be a cashier who mocks a Deaf customer, such as this unfortunate example, or perhaps or a supervisor who doesn’t give their Deaf/ HoH employee a shot at promotion because there’s no verbal connection, nor interpreting services provided for professional development workshops.

top-ada-compliance-consultant-usa-02Every employee at an organization — whether they are in Human Resources, Customer Service, or Tech Support — serves as a public representative of that business. An employee’s behavior can have a direct financial impact, as well as a long term impact upon brand reputation. When employees receive the kind of training that enables them to make culturally competent decisions on the job, they are empowered with the tools they need to create and maintain productive relationships.

No one can speak to the trials and triumphs of a marginalized community better than a member of that community. The most effective Cultural Competency Training is facilitated directly by those who have firsthand experience navigating specific systems of oppression. Here at LCIS, we utilize the skills of Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants to offer unique insight through our engaging cultural competency training programs. Employees are encouraged to ask questions and engage in candid dialogue with Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants in an educational setting where confidence can be developed.

top-ada-compliance-deaf-HoH-low-vision-consultant-usa-03A thorough cultural competency training program can benefit any organization. By offering employees the opportunity and support to learn, inclusion efforts establish loyal relationships with employees and customers. Additionally, these professional development programs demonstrate a real commitment to social integrity. Effective cultural competency training fosters a more multicultural environment moving forward, where culturally competent HR managers are able to attract, hire, and promote talented candidates representing a variety of marginalized identities; which in turn welcomes even more diversity!

best-ada-compliance-deaf-consultant-new-york-04Proper cultural competency training is an investment in the very foundation of an organization. By offering employees these opportunities and support to grow, companies can build awareness right into their corporate culture. As some businesses discover the hard way, it’s much better to get ahead of social progress than to fall behind and risk having employees without training representing the company in a way that is not true to its values.

Click here to learn more about Cultural Competency Training, or to refer a company for our training programs! We offer customized training from Deaf and Hard of Hearing consultants to help organizations of any size develop meaningful connections with the Deaf and HoH community: including employees, customers, and clients.

So You Want to Be A Deaf Interpreter?

steps-to-becoming-asl-sign-language-interpreter-01American views on disabilities are slowly evolving, and our society is finally beginning to acknowledge and accommodate the diverse needs of a diverse population. Because mainstream awareness about the Deaf community is on the rise, Deaf interpreting is a growing career field with increasing demand. There is a shortage of Deaf Interpreters, even in major cities!

WHAT IS A DEAF INTERPRETER?

Deaf interpreters are in a unique position, with one foot in the Deaf world and one foot in the Interpreting world, which makes them highly qualified communication specialists. These individuals have completed an interpreter training program, and most have higher education degrees ranging from BA to Masters in related fields.

how-to-become-sign-language-interpreter-02Working as a team with a hearing ASL interpreter, Deaf Interpreters are used to facilitate effective communication in situations when linguistic and cultural differences can be challenging to overcome— for example, communicating with a Deaf person who has limited language skills, or a Deaf individual who has experienced severe trauma. Deaf interpreters are also used in situations when the inherent position of social power that a hearing interpreter occupies can interfere with the true message a Deaf person is trying to convey. This could occur in court rooms, hospitals, police stations, human welfare settings, and so on .

Deaf Interpreters can be the best option for communicating with Deaf people who use a specific regional dialect, or foreign individuals for whom ASL is a second or third language. Deaf Interpreters are a great choice for communicating with Deaf children, individuals with learning, intellectual, or other physical disabilities, or those who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

While most ASL interpreters are specially trained hearing people with fluency in American Sign Language and a strong understanding of Deaf culture; Deaf interpreters are typically native sign language users who have the actual lived experience of deafness.

WHAT IS A CERTIFIED DEAF INTERPRETER?

certified-asl-sign-language-interpreting-job-court-legal-setting-03In 1998 the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) established a certification program for Deaf Interpreters as part of the organization’s effort to create and uphold professional standards of quality. Those who acquire the RID credentials are known as Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI).

“Holders of this certification are deaf or hard of hearing and have demonstrated knowledge and understanding of interpreting, deafness, the Deaf community, and Deaf culture,” according to the RID website. “Holders have specialized training and/or experience in the use of gesture, mime, props, drawings and other tools to enhance communication….CDI has an extensive knowledge and understanding of deafness, the deaf community, and/or Deaf culture which combined with excellent communication skills, can bring added expertise into both routine and uniquely difficult interpreting situations.”

RID endorses the use of CDI to help ensure the following:

  • Optimal understanding by all parties.
  • Efficient use of time and resources.
  • Clarification of linguistic and/or cultural confusion and misunderstanding(s).
  • Arrival at a clear conclusion in the interpreting situation.

STEPS TOWARD BECOMING A CERTIFIED DEAF INTERPRETER

how-be-asl-sign-language-interpreter-for-medical-hospitals-04“I always like to meet people and thought about being an interpreter,” explains pre-certified Deaf Interpreter Aleksandr Rozentsvit. “I like to challenge myself sometimes, and working how to make sure the client gets my message. Also I like to go to new places and being an interpreter ventures out to new places that I haven’t been before.”

Pursuing a career as a Deaf Interpreter can be a great option for people with hearing loss who have a passion for communication! It is a job that offers variety and constant opportunities for growth. But HOW TO get started?

1. Develop knowledge and skills in interpreting

When you are just getting started, it’s crucial to practice, practice, practice! Attending interpreter workshops and training events, such as the ones hosted by Gallaudet University, Deaf Interpreter Workshops, or other private programs, will help build your experience and understanding of the field.

how-to-become-certified-sign-language-interpreter-educational-settings-05Additional resources for training include the Deaf Interpreter Institute, which is “a learning, sharing, and networking site for Deaf Interpreters (DI), interpreters who work with Deaf Interpreters, DI educators and mentors, interpreting education program faculty and administrators, and people who use the services of DIs.” The Deaf Interpreter Institute has also created a National Consortium or Interpreter Education Centers (NCIEC) Deaf Interpreter Curriculum Manual, which is a thorough and comprehensive guide for those looking to take steps on the path toward this career.

Deaf individuals may enroll in an Interpreter Training Program (ITP) at a University. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf maintains information regarding interpreting education programs and they have a database or post-secondary programs that is searchable by State.

2. Check all CDI Knowledge eligibility requirements

The next step is becoming RID Certified. Certification demonstrates a commitment to upholding the professional standards set forth by RID, and CDIs are often requested for sensitive settings, such as medical emergencies and legal cases.

The CDI Knowledge Exam Eligibility Requirements are as follows:

a) Submitting 40 Hours/4.0 CEUs of Interpreter Training.

b) 8 hours/0.8 CEUs required on the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct – Recommended topics include: Ethical Decision Making and Ethics in Interpreting.

c) 8 hours/0.8 CEUs required on the Introduction to Interpreting – Recommended topics include: Interpreting 101

d) 8 hours/0.8 CEUs required on the Process of Interpretation – Recommended topics include: The Deaf Interpreter at Work, Deaf/Hearing Team Interpreting, Deaf/Deaf Team Interpreting, Interpreting for Deaf Blind consumers, Deaf Interpreting Processes, Deaf Interpreting Theory and Practice, Consecutive Interpreting, Simultaneous Interpreting, Sight/Test Translation, Visual Gestural Communication, and Platform Interpreting.

e) 16 hours/1.6 CEUs required on the elective(s) of your choice – Recommended topics include: ASL Linguistics, Mentorship Programs, and Interpreting Practicum, Additional training in any of the required content areas above.

f) Effective June 30, 2016, Deaf candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

3. Pay for CDI Knowledge exam

The Center for the Assessment of Sign Language Interpretation, LLC (CASLI) was established in June 2016 by RID to take over the administration, development, and maintenance of exams. Those pursuing certification will need to be in communication with CASLI once they are prepared to take the CDI Knowledge Exam. Applicants must also “submit an audiogram or letter from audiologist and proof of meeting the 40 hour training requirement to RID.”

APPLICATION

RID staff will review training documentation within 10 business days. “After approval of the 40 hour training you will see the button to “Register for the CDI Knowledge Exam” in the yellow tile on your account.” Alternatively, applicants may send a hard-copy application with payment to CASLI.
CASLI recommends applying to take the exam at least five weeks in advance to ensure time for the application and registration process, including all required documentation.

The costs for the CDI Knowledge exam are $225 for RID Members, and $280 for non-members. The cost for an exam retake (within 5 years) is $165 for RID Members, or $190 for non-members.

4. Verify Access to Authorization To Test (ATT) Letter

Your ATT Letter serves as proof of eligibility to take the exam. Verification can be done via the CASLI website, access your ATT Letter by logging into your account and clicking on “Download ATT Letter” in the yellow tile titled “Certification Application Status.”

5. Schedule CDI Knowledge Exam with Test Site

The CDI Knowledge Exam is a written exam taken at a CASLI test site, which are located all across the country. Applicants must contact the CASLI test site of their choice to schedule the exam. A Test Administrator will confirm the appointment and provide further instructions on reaching the test location.

6. Take CDI Knowledge Exam

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The CDI Knowledge Exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions and is administrated in both English and ASL. All answers are recorded on a Scantron sheet, and candidates have up to 3 hours to complete the exam. Per CASLI “The CDI Knowledge Exam tests for knowledge appropriate to an interpreter holding national certification and covering, professional roles and responsibilities, preparation for service delivery, provision of service, and post-service closure.” A score of 72 or better is required to pass the exam.

On the day of the exam, candidates must bring a hard copy of their ATT letter as proof of eligibility, as well as any applicable methods of identification.

The results of the CDI Knowledge Exam will be reported to candidates within 30 days of the test date. Those who fail the exam can take it again after a 6 month waiting period at a reduced price. Those who pass the CDI Knowledge Exam should contact the RID Certification Department regarding the requirements needed to meet the current CDI Bridge Plan for temporary CDI credentialing.

Per CASLI, “if you meet all the requirements of the CDI Bridge Plan, RID will award you temporary CDI crediential and enroll you in the Certification Maintenance Program. In addition, you will also be under the jurisdiction of the Ethical Practices System”

There is currently a moratorium on the CDI Performance Exam, While RID evaluates the Risk Analysis of the certification program there will be no Performance Exam offered. However, once the new Performance exam is launched, candidates who have passed the knowledge exam within 5 years and meet RID’s educational requirement may then take the CDI Performance Exam. The CDI Performance Exam is a videotape assessment.

DEAF INTERPRETING AS A CAREER

different-options-steps-for-asl-training-deaf-07Deaf interpreters might find themselves working in a wide variety of scenarios, interacting with diverse people from all walks of life. Most commonly CDI services are requested in medical settings, mental health settings, or situations where a deaf individual is engaging with the criminal justice system.

“It’s like a roller coaster,” says Aleksandr Rozentsvit. “Some days are extremely busy while some days are so quiet.”

Since Deaf Interpreters usually work as freelance contractors, they are afforded the flexibility of maintaining their own schedules. Those working in or near larger cities will often find more opportunities for work, but Deaf Interpreters who are willing to travel a bit will find that their services are needed all throughout the country. Those who have the skills, patience, and tenacity to get out there and network themselves have the possibility of finding success in a growing field.

Rozentsvit offers this bit of advice for those just starting out: “ROADBLOCKS! Plenty of these ahead when you start in the field of interpreting. Don’t get dismayed if people [are] not offering you enough tasks. Build your reputation as you go through your journey. You will face some challenges and explaining about the benefits of having a deaf interpreters. There are some interpreters/clients that doesn’t know about deaf interpreters and you will expect that during your tasks sometimes. The better your reputation is; people will start reaching out and your experience will grow.”

As society continues to redefine its relationship with disabilities, those who have been marginalized for so long are gaining more power to advocate for the rights, needs, and capabilities of their respective communities.

Deaf Interpreters bring valuable insight and critical perspectives to the interpreting field. These professionals enable a cycle of Deaf empowerment, where Deaf people are gainfully employed in support of other Deaf individuals. At the end of the day, nobody understands the communication needs of those who are Deaf better than other Deaf individuals!

LCIS is thrilled to offer services from Deaf Interpreters all throughout the greater NYC Metropolitan region. Contact us today to Book an Interpreter!

LCIS is also actively seeking Deaf Interpreters to join our interpreting team! We strive to provide Deaf interpreters as often as possible in appropriate settings. If you are a Deaf Interpreter interested in working with LCIS, please submit a resume and cover letter to: info@lcinterpretingservices.com

Realtime Captioning Services For Events: What is CART?

cart-services-for-deaf-real-time-captioning-top-asl-agency-nyc-01Live captioning services can provide those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing with full access to presentations, lectures, or videos that they would otherwise struggle to understand. But really: every attendee at an event can benefit from captioned content!

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) — more commonly known as Live Captioning, or Realtime Captioning — is the instant translation of spoken word into text using a specialized set of skills and equipment.

According to Mirabai Knight, the owner of Stenoknight who has been providing professional captioning services to businesses and organizations for over a decade, the goal is “to provide realtime text transcription with as little delay as possible, as close to verbatim as possible, including sound cues and omitting filler words (like ‘um’ and ‘uh’), under the guidance of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing consumer.”

The result is precise captions which can be displayed on an individual’s computer monitor, projected onto a screen, combined with a video, or otherwise transmitted for audience accessibility. Realtime Captioning service can be employed as an auxiliary aid in certain situations to ensure equal access for those with hearing loss, as guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If a person’s preferred means of communication is sign language, captioning can be used in tandem with ASL interpreters to ensure full access for the Deaf individual.

WHY LIVE CAPTIONING?

live-captioning-services-for-events-tri-state-east-coast-nyc-02Imagine attending an all-day conference where you’re extremely interested in the topics being discussed during the presentations, but you keep missing important bits of information making it difficult to keep up with the lectures. Perhaps your mind is fatigued after several seminars, or the presenters speak very quietly, or you missed breakfast and just can’t focus.

Most people have been in a situation where— for one reason or another— they were not able to follow along with a presentation. This can be a frustrating experience and, for those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, an unfortunately common one.

Approximately 15% of American adults, or 37.5 million people aged 18 and over, are currently living with some level of hearing loss. This is a significant percentage of people who might be sitting out there in the audience, either working overtime to understand the presentation, or completely disengaged because they can’t hear a thing.

As Knight explains, “post-lingually deafened or hard of hearing people who don’t sign fluently or at all tend to benefit most from captions, though signing Deaf people in highly technical or medical fields sometimes prefer realtime captioning either as an adjunct to sign interpreting or by itself in certain specific scenarios.”

Now take into consideration the number of individuals in the audience who may have learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, or other conditions which could limit their ability to hear or focus in a crowd. There may be audience members for whom English is a second language, or a speaker with a strong accent that makes them hard to understand.

Without captioning, how many attendees are really missing the full impact of each presentation?

REALTIME CAPTIONING EXPLAINED

captioning-services-court-reporting-agency-03Providing Realtime Captioning is an easy way to increase the accessibility of an event, conference, or presentation for all audience members. Studies have shown that captioning improves both comprehension and engagement, as viewers spend about 40% more time watching captioned video. Realtime Captioning is a worthwhile investment because it offers presenters the opportunity to connect with a greater portion of the audience in a more effective manner.

Captioning providers are sometimes called stenographers. Stenographers are professionally trained to transcribe spoken language to shorthand, which is then turned into realtime text using specialized software. They strive to faithfully communicate the intention of the speaker and maintain the integrity of the message.

Professional Realtime Captioning providers are certified by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) and bound by a code of professional conduct, which includes ethics and confidentiality. The NCRA was created in 1937 to establish a national set of standards and best practice, and they offer a variety of certifications for various settings.

nyc-real-time-captioning-infographic-top-asl-agency-04Knight offered to share a bit of insight into the type of training and experience that stenographers accumulate. “I spent a year and a half in court reporting school attaining a speed of 225 words per minute with 95% non-realtime accuracy, but before I started I knew I wanted to do realtime captioning exclusively, so at the same time I was using my steno machine for offline captioning at a small television captioning company and rigorously training my realtime skills as I built speed.

“When I earned my speed certificate, I worked under an experienced captioner in a university for a year before striking off on my own, and earned the Certified Realtime Captioner (then the Certified CART Provider) certification soon after. I’ve continued to hone my skills in the 11 years since I began captioning professionally, earning the 260 WPM Registered Merit Reporter certification, specializing in medical and big screen technical conference work, and doing my best to seek out the most high stakes and challenging material I can find.”

REALTIME CAPTIONING OPTIONS

top-CART-realtime-live-captioning-services-for-presentations-events-corporate-nyc-ct-nj-05There are two types of Realtime Captioning Service frequently used to accommodate the needs of those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing during presentations.

  • Projected CART: Captions are created in realtime by the provider utilizing their steno software, and the text will appear directly on the presentation screen or monitor. This requires the venue or event planner to provide a display connection and extension cord.
  • One-to-one CART: This is best when there is only one consumer who needs captioning service, typically in a smaller venue like a classroom. The Realtime Captioning provider translates the spoken word into text and it is live streamed to the consumer’s laptop or mobile device via WiFi.

HOW TO PROVIDE REALTIME CAPTIONING SERVICE

Since Realtime Captioning is such an effective way to improve communication access at conferences or events, it’s a good idea for venues and organizers to get a contract on file with a local agency that provides captioning service. Having an existing relationship with a provider makes the process of requesting services much smoother when the time comes!

live-captioning-services-cart-technology-mobile-info-faq-contact-05There are less than 650 currently NCRA certified and registered professionals working in the United States with a variety of specialties— this can put providers in short supply. Making requests for Realtime Captioning (CART) service with 14-30 days lead time, and providing the agency as much prep material as possible in advance, will help ensure coverage from a qualified stenographer.

Request the start time at least 30 minutes prior to the start time of the actual presentation to allow for technical setup. On the day of service, the stenographer will arrive on site with their equipment and software and will work along with the AV team and organizers at the venue to make sure both they and the consumers are in the correct place.

After services have been provided, be sure to check in with the consumers to gather feedback on the quality of captioning and be sure to contact the agency for followup if necessary!

LCIS is thrilled to offer CART Services to meet the Live Captioning needs of clients in the new New York City metropolitan region and New Jersey for a wide variety or entertainment or professional events. We make the process for securing CART Services and providing equal access as simple as possible. LCIS offers quality services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers with a strong emphasis on client satisfaction. Call us today at (917) 210-5804.

5 Things to Look for When Hiring Sign Language Interpreters

hiring-professional-asl-deaf-interpreter-individual-business-corporation-faq-general-info-01Imagine rushing to the hospital because a family member has been injured, but when you arrive nobody can tell you what happened because you do not speak the same language. Sitting bedside, holding the hand of a loved one who is broken, bleeding and unconscious, you have no idea what occurred, what is going on, or whether they will be ok. Many hours later an interpreter finally arrives to provide communication, but they start interpreting things that don’t even make sense. Something about surgery for a basketball … test … later friendship? What? The interpreter is not effectively communicating the message from the doctors, which just results in more frustration and confusion during an already stressful situation.

All Interpreting Agencies Are Not Created Equal

hiring-sign-language-interpreter-general-info-02Unfortunately it is still common for individuals with hearing loss to endure substandard ASL interpreting services provided by low quality interpreters. Because there is no mandatory national standard for requiring licensure and certification, poor interpreting services continue to deny Deaf individuals the ability to participate in conversations that impact their lives. Hiring unqualified interpreters is ultimately a waste of financial resources, and can open an organization up to potential violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

A person who is hiring sign language interpreters for the first time may not be sure what to look for in a provider or agency. Ensuring quality interpreting services for Deaf individuals can be especially challenging to those who do not know American Sign Language and are unfamiliar with Deaf culture. Below are 5 things to look for when assessing the quality and capabilities of a sign language interpreting service provider.

1. Look For: Agencies That Specialize In Signed Languages

how-to-hire-sign-language-interpreter-tri-state-03Signed languages are unique because they are visual languages, existing in 3-Dimensions. ASL is a distinct language with its own grammar rules and structure. It relies heavily on facial cues and body language, as well as the use of classifiers to convey meaning. There are signs commonly used within different industries for specific terminologies, and even regional dialects.

There are many large multi-language agencies out there offering sign language interpreting services, but they do not have a vetting process that ensures the quality of their interpreters. Working with an agency that specializes in signed languages can help assure effective communication from interpreters that have the appropriate skills and credentials.

2. Look For: Deaf-owned, Coda-owned, or Interpreter-owned Agencies

An agency that is owned by an individual who is Deaf, from a Deaf family, or a seasoned ASL interpreter can offer advantages over the competition. The owners of these agencies will have the firsthand experience to navigate language and cultural barriers, and they will be able to create workability for both Deaf and hearing parties to ensure effective communication.

sign-language-interpreters-faq-04Individuals who are Deaf, or individuals who were raised in Deaf families – Codas (Children of Deaf Adults) and Sodas (Siblings of Deaf Adults)— have a strong tie to American Sign Language and the ability of this language to empower those with hearing loss. For many of these individuals, ASL is the language of their families and/or their friends. To those involved in the Deaf community, ASL is more than just a language, it demonstrates the importance of connection and the freedom of self expression.

Interpreters who have a strong background providing reliable services in a variety of settings understand what full accessibility looks like all along the spectrum of hearing loss. Over the years, Deaf consumers will share with interpreters some of the challenges that they face. Interpreters often witness lack of access when in the field, and have experience working alongside both hearing and deaf clients to come to effective resolution.

Agencies that have direct involvement within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community will have an understanding of current topics surrounding civil rights, technology, and social issues that concern those who are Deaf/ HoH. Cultural competency at these organizations is likely to be higher among agency staff and interpreters.

3. Look For: Agencies that Provide Resources and Support for Their Clients

hire-best-asl-interpreter-nyc-ct-nj-tri-state-info-05In the search for interpreting service providers, it’s a good idea to look for agencies that emphasize ongoing support for their clients. Seek agencies that provide not only interpreters, but information to help the communication be effective and successful.

Sure, it’s great that the interpreter showed up. But does the hearing staff know how to utilize their services? Do they know where the interpreter should sit or stand? Do they know how to address the Deaf individual through the interpreter? Do they know how to follow up if the interpreter was not effective, or displayed unprofessional behavior?

One way to assess whether an agency provides client support is to browse their website and/or social media to see what kind of resources they provide for free. Look for agencies that offer opportunities to make further connections within the Deaf community, as well as current news and events. Another way is to contact the agency directly with any questions to evaluate whether they are generally responsive and helpful.

4. Look For: Agencies That Value Their Interpreters

As with any occupation, the way that an agency treats their workers is a reflection of their company values. Interpreters are typically contractors, meaning they are freelancers who have control over their schedule and who they work with. Quality ASL interpreters will flock to agencies that show respect for their time and have a positive reputation among Deaf consumers.

How can a person looking from the outside know if an agency values their interpreters? Here are a few simple ways to tell:

  • They assign Team Interpreters: This ensures the accuracy of services for the Deaf consumer, and protects interpreters from exhaustion. Due to the physical and mental nature of ASL interpreting, interpreters will begin to experience extreme fatigue after about an hour of interpreting alone. When a request is made for interpreting services that requires over one hour of consecutive interpreting, a second interpreter should always be assigned to work as a team throughout the requested time.
  • They assign Deaf Interpreters: Deaf interpreters work as a team with a hearing sign language interpreter to ensure the accuracy of communications when working with Deaf individuals, especially in traumatic or emotionally distressing situations, or when communicating with individuals for whom ASL is not a first language. There are times when the only person who can really understand a Deaf individual is another person who is Deaf. This is true when it comes to language skills, since not everyone uses formal American Sign Language, and it is also true when it comes to recognizing and navigating instances of institutional oppression. Agencies should advocate for the use of Deaf interpreters in situations where cultural barriers and power dynamics can influence the outcome of the communications. (More on the value of Deaf Interpreters HERE).
  • They have a fair Cancellation Policy: Most Sign Language Interpreters work as contractors, so they are freelancers responsible for filling up their own schedules to generate income. Interpreters will plan their schedules out weeks in advance to line up assignments in a way that makes sense for transporting around the city to different locations. Agencies that value their interpreters will protect the time of their contractors by ensuring they are paid by the client for the time they block off in their schedule if the request is cancelled without a reasonable amount of time to secure another job. Typically, this means at least 2 business days advance notice. Quality interpreters will only work for agencies that demonstrate value for their interpreter’s time and respect for their schedules.
  • They emphasize ongoing professional development: When reviewing agencies, it’s advisable to look for those who work with Nationally Certified interpreters and interpreters who have completed an Interpreter Training Program. Seek agencies that openly advocate for higher interpreting standards, and organizations that offer interpreter mentoring programs for those new to the field.

5. Look for: Agencies that Seek Feedback

general-info-hiring-asl-deaf-interpreter-medical-settings-businesses-06Customer and client feedback is essential to the development of any organization. Since agency owners cannot be in the field with interpreters at all times, reaching out to both Deaf and hearing consumers can help an interpreting agency maintain an exceptional level of service and to quickly resolve any issues that may arise. Seek agencies that are easy to connect with and consistently responsive to inquiries, both before and after services have been rendered. Interpreting agencies that actively solicit feedback demonstrate commitment to ensuring quality and satisfaction.

LC Interpreting Services has more than 200 highly skilled sign language interpreters working in a variety of fields to provide communication access between Deaf and hearing individuals. LCIS offers top quality interpreters for individuals and organizations of all size throughout the greater NYC metropolitan region and New Jersey. Our interpreters are carefully screened and assigned based on experience and qualifications to ensure the best possible services for clients and Deaf consumers.

Contact us today to BOOK AN INTERPRETER!

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