Black multilingual researchers, consultants, and interpreters challenging historic and contemporary frames of language access through the advancement of research, trainings, publications and resource development that center BIPOC service providers and consumers.
NIC, QMHI, LMT, ABICE, CHI™-SPANISH, CMI-SPANISH, CORECHI-P™, BEI ADVANCED, TRILINGUAL ADVANCED, ALABAMA COURT CERTIFIED
PhD, NIC, BEI TRILINGUAL ADVANCED
Since COVID 19 there has been a shift to online events and providing “access” with language interpretation as one of the go-to accessibility services. As interpreters we know it’s not enough to just be invited into a space; a lot more work and effort needs to happen on the backend and during the event to make accessibility truly come to life. We created a document outlining considerations for organizers and event hosts to move beyond performative access and into creating spaces with language interpretation as a collaborative accessibility practice.
For some time, Black, Indigenous, and Interpreters of Color have been holding conversations amongst ourselves and with entities that contract for interpreting services about our inequitable experiences and its impact on the field of sign language interpreting. We made the move to foreground this conversation with the hopes of reaching the broader community of interpreters and pushing beyond discussion and into action. For interpreters of color, we want to 1) acknowledge the weight we carry and 2) let you know we are in this together. We hope this document will also serve as a challenge to entities to address the tokenism and weaponization of BIPOC interpreters.
Many areas of the United States are experiencing an increasing need for Trilingual Interpreters skilled in Spanish, English, and American Sign Language. As Trilingual Interpreters, we also recognize the need for interpreters who use Pro-Tactile and other spoken and/or signed languages in addition to ASL and English. Due to the lack of resources available for both emerging and experienced Trilingual interpreters, we have published this 10-page Guidance for Trilingual Interpreters, 1st Edition.
Virtual events have become part of the “new normal” opening up many opportunities for language access, particularly through the provision of: Sign and spoken language interpretation and Captioning, whether auto or human generated. This virtual shift has brought ways of re-interpreting time with requestors, forcing us to constantly educate them on the assumption that access providers can or should adapt to last-minute changes (ie. unplanned/unscheduled extensions). The result has caused repeated frustration for those on the receiving end as well as for those who are providing access. We hope this conversation starter will provide a widening perspective to entities contracting with access providers about the value and limitations of our time – and how to budget accordingly.
As interpreters and those who depend on interpretation services to access information, we have all been in spaces where the content is coming at us way too quickly! Interpreters working in such spaces are not only tasked with the tremendous cognitive and physical work of interpreting, but also of making strategic interruptions in order to ensure equitable language access.
“Sorry, I tend to speak fast” is often the warning flag before an event and/or the rationale we are given during an event for ill-paced presentation content that disregards the demands of interpreting and the cognitive processing of the intended audience. Here are some considerations and tips for improvement in relation to the pace of content presentation.
Language Justice and Disability Justice have become the frameworks that are often disjointly and distinctly applied in spaces that are occupied by Deaf, Disabled, non-English speaking, limited-English speaking, and/or emerging language learners. Oftentimes, organizations, service providers, and consumers believe that the mere presence of interpreters and/or the provision of CART services is satisfactory implementation of Language Justice and/or Disability Justice. However, we suggest that if applied conjointly, these frameworks can afford us so much more if and when we engage them both fully and symbiotically instead of as frameworks that are implemented independently.
In the first installment of this series, we demonstrate what a Language + Disability Justice framework offers hiring entities and the commitment required in order to promote equitable and comprehensive participation from all members of our society with respect to their language and ability needs.
The statistics speak for themselves: only 24% of certified interpreters in the U.S. are male, and a mere 4% are Black. This is a reality that we're determined to change. From “Marginalized to Empowered: Black Male Sign Language Interpreters” is a culmination of the diverse insights, perspectives, and experiences of 20 Black male interpreters, spanning across various backgrounds and identities. I hope that this publication will serve as a catalyst for dialogue and reflection on both the local and national levels, ultimately creating a safer and more inclusive space for all underrepresented communities to thrive in the interpreting field, and specifically for Black male interpreters.
Since the onset of COVID-19 we were forced to analyze, more than ever, our standards as an industry. Over these past couple of years, many inequities and inconsistencies were exposed as we navigated and settled into the new norm of providing interpreting services through video conferencing platforms. This raised many questions related to how billing is and should be handled and sparked a variety of conversations around the issue from agencies to individual contractors. As a field of professional practitioners, we will constantly face the need to evaluate if our industry’s practice standards are creating pathways to growth or roadblocks to enhancement.
In part one of this series we specifically address the two-hour minimum and its application to virtual remote work as one of those practice standards. Our hope is that this conversation starter will contribute to greater professional development while simultaneously bridging the gap and divide among varying opinions to establish greater continuity and more stable guidelines - not just for us, but for those with whom we do business.
Since the proliferation of social media into mainstream society, we have been regularly tasked with the challenge of deciding how and what we present to the world. This is even more compounded when our personal and professional spaces converge. With no clear guidelines or regulation on the subject in regards to how this could potentially impact our professional persona, we are left to define parameters on our own, often leading to conflicting opinions with no real consensus. As a field of professional practitioners, we will forever face the need to evaluate if our industry’s practice standards are elevating us to higher levels of professionalism or creating boundaries to progress.
Social media can be a tricky space to navigate for Sign Language Interpreters. In part two of this series, we (Tiffany Hill & Kenton Myers) specifically address social media ethics and our current code of professional conduct, playing out the varying optics and perspectives and their impact on our provision of access. Our hope is that this conversation starter will contribute to greater professional development while simultaneously creating a source for much-needed collegial dialogue - not just for us as individuals, but for the entities we work with and the communities we serve.
As a Black Deaf person or a Deaf Person of Color, have you ever felt insecure about how your communication style would be perceived by the outside world? Have you ever felt insecure about your language use? Have you ever felt excluded or different in signing communities? Is code-switching part of your daily experience?
Know that you are NOT the problem! In this bilingual publication, Candace Jones, Reginald Bess, Kenton Myers and Gloshanda Lawyer explore the historical causes of why you may feel this way and discuss the contemporary ramifications of cultural and linguistic deprivation for BIPOC Deaf people, with special attention to the Black Deaf community.
As interpreters, we recognize the unique nature of each job request, where no two situations are identical. Our roles are dynamic, often accompanied by unpredictable factors. Despite the ever-changing landscape, professionalism requires our readiness for the unexpected. We must recognize that how we present ourselves in specific spaces can have impacts that differ from our intentions. This conversation starter delves into the nuances of interpreting in social settings, exploring the profound implications, both positive and negative, our decisions may have on Deaf professionals. Our aim is to stimulate a discussion that contributes to meta-analysis and professional growth. By navigating diverse spaces, we aspire to enhance our understanding of how interpreters can operate effectively in the absence of universal, one-size-fits-all standards.
Performative Allyship continues to rear its ugly head. We have addressed it privately and publicly in a myriad of ways. We are in solidarity with the voices who have challenged the weaponization of BIPOC communities in interpreting. We join those who refuse to allow empty apologies with no clear direction for action to repair and prevent the harm of BIPOC interpreters. For those who need a refresher, check out our previous article on the Tokenism and Weaponization of BIPOC interpreters.
Myers & Lawyer Address the pervasive issue of cognitive dissonance within the sign language interpreting field and how it often renders allyship performative and disingenuous. The rapid spread of information through social media platforms allows for us to more easily identify long-standing problems that result from cognitive dissonance, recognize that these incidents are not isolated in nature, and affords us the opportunity to address them more rapidly and collectively than we have been able to do in the past. Our aim is to initiate this uncomfortable yet necessary conversation, with the hopes that it will ultimately drive genuine change towards authentic allyship.
To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month and the diversity within the Latino/a/x and Hispanic communities, let’s tackle some common misconceptions and misinformed assumptions related to signed languages. As trilingual (ASL/Spanish/English) interpreters in the United States, a common request we receive is for a “Spanish Sign Language Interpreter” to work with Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled and Hard of Hearing consumers who are assumed to come from Spanish-speaking backgrounds and/or to work with their Spanish-speaking family members. Let this Public Service Announcement serve as an advocacy tool to challenge oversimplified considerations when scheduling language access services for multilingual/multicultural consumers and families.
Combating Performative Accessibility (ENGLISH) (pdf)Download
QUÉ ES ACCESO PERFORMATIVO Y CÓMO COMBATIRLO (pdf)Download
مكافحة قابلية الوصول األدائية (pdf)Download
Black, Indigenous, People of Color - The BIPOC Interpreter Experience Tokenism and Weaponization of Our Identities (ENGLISH) (pdf)Download
Las personas negras, indígenas y de color (BIPOC por sus siglas en inglés) - La experiencia del intérprete BIPOC La inclusión simbólica (Tokenism) y explotación de nuestras identidades (pdf)Download
Guidance for Trilingual Interpreters, 1st Edition (ENGLISH) (pdf)Download
Guía para Intérpretes Trilingües, 1a Edición (pdf)Download
Reclaiming Our Time (ENGLISH) (pdf)Download
Recuperando Nuestro Tiempo (pdf)Download
"Sorry, I tend to speak fast" (pdf)Download
"Perdón, es que yo hablo rápido" (pdf)Download
"Xin lỗi, tôi thường hay nói nhanh" (pdf)Download
PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE STANDARDS (2-Hour Minimum) (pdf)Download
ESTÁNDARES DE PRÁCTICA PROFESIONAL (El Mínimo de Dos Horas) (pdf)Download
It’s you, not me! Black Deaf People’s Experience of Cultural-Linguistic Deprivation (pdf)Download
¡Eres tú, no yo! La privación cultural y lingüística de la comunidad Sorda Negra (pdf)Download
Calling Performative Allyship to the Stage (pdf)Download
Llamando a la alianza performativa al escenario (pdf)Download
PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE STANDARDS (Social Media Ethics) (pdf)Download
ESTÁNDARES DE PRÁCTICA PROFESIONA (La Ética en las redes sociales) (pdf)Download
Moving with Intention - Embodying Language and Disability Justice (pdf)Download
Actuar con intención - Encarnar la justicia lingüística y la justicia por discapacidad (pdf)Download
From Marginalized to Empowered Black Male Sign Language Interpreters (pdf)Download
De marginados a empoderados intérpretes masculinos negros de lengua de señas (pdf)Download
Assessing Underrepresented Interpreting Communities in the US (pdf)Download
Cognitive Dissonance + Allyship (pdf)Download
La disonancia cognitiva + El falso aliado (pdf)Download
PSA- Diversity of Signed Languages (pdf)Download
PSA- Diversity of Signed Languages SPANISH (pdf)Download
Decision-Making While Interpreting in Social Settings (pdf)Download
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