1. What do you think foreign/sign agencies need to be effective in providing quality sign language interpreting services?
Vetting process A community forum: Working with Foreign Language Agencies: What does the future hold for interpreters and Deaf people in the Bay Area?
Notes form breakout groups
Should go through some type of formal education/workshops to show they have knowledge of interpreter certification, process etc. Then earn a license
Perhaps we develop an orientation package with everything they need to know
Deaf community evaluates agency to vet them
State Licensure/Committee for some rating/screening system with number rating or star system
CDI or hearing certified interpreter should work there to coordinate for placement of ASL interpreters
Hire a team of Deaf and hearing interpreters for consult or find appropriate Deaf leaders to advise how to hire
Understanding of the profession
Must understand spoken vs. sign language needs are different
Join RID, NAD, Work closely with both
Screen interpreters to see who is best fit for the job
Agency should give back to the community
Support the Deaf community in how to advocate for themselves and know how to ask for interpreters
3 way feedback system from requestor,
from interpreter , from Deaf consumer Accessible and easy to find
Deaf/Blind requirements – they should know or be able to find out for the interpreter
Develop a positive reputation in the community by reaching out, advertising and giving back to the community
Empower Deaf consumers with education, choice of interpreter style/skill to better advocate for getting what they want
Direct involvement from Deaf consumers (on staff, consultants)
Solicit feedback from consumers
Interaction with interpreters
Provide enough information about the job such as situation, language needs
Increase their knowledge of the interpreting field and certification system
Develop an appropriate evaluation method for interpreters, using qualified evaluators (skilled interpreters, hearing or CDI)
Have an open exchange of ideas and feedback
Use only certified interpreters
Recruit more Deaf/Blind interpreters
Provide mentoring situations with new interpreter graduates if the Deaf consumer approves
Need better screening process by agencies (Use CDIs to help screen)
Improve background information about interpreters. Improve client information as well (language preference, background)
Create a “star rating” system (1-4) of interpreters
Have a standardized questionnaire to assess needs
Have a list of questions to ask of the assignment and provide more information to interpreter before accepting the job
2. Under what circumstances would you decline to work with an agency (sign or foreign)?
If I don’t have enough information about agency
If the agency …
has a poor relationship with deaf/interpreting community
won’t negotiate pay rate and sets lower rates, which then leads to poor quality of interpreters who are willing to work with them
sends mass emails
doesn’t give me enough info about interpreting assignment
has no communication
doesn’t give appropriate information
doesn’t pay on time
doesn’t tell me who my team is
won’t give me a team
is unaware of CDI roles and needs (of a hearing interpreter)
doesn’t provide enough information so I can decide if my skills are adequate
has a bad reputation
pays below market rate
shows no familiarity with the interpreting field
is not knowledgeable about the task of interpreting
is unknown to me
is from another state
has a bad attitude
accepts any interpreter
lacks cultural sensitivity
won’t provide materials for a large performance/musical type of gig
Interpreters who accept their jobs don’t know their limits
Geographically challenged interpreting agencies
In Principle – don’t want to support them
Will they fill my schedule around this job?
Books a one hour job one month out, then it cancels
3. If you choose not to work with foreign language agencies, what are the implications?
Loss of relationship with client if new contract with FLA (previously contract with sign agency)
The agencies will offer work to unqualified interpreters
Could cause disruption of services, lack of consistency and decline in quality of interpreting services offered
Deaf consumer may have to become more proactive in advocating for specific agencies, interpreter requests, etc. Advocating to the FLA about who they want. They have to make their needs more known or maybe advocate for something other than a FLA.
If we don’t take the work then Deaf people don’t get services.
Maybe need Deaf people and interpreters to set up qualifications for agencies we are willing to work with.
Sign agencies may go out of business.
Are FLA here to stay? Do we need to educate them?
Deaf people aren’t aware of this situation.
Who will provide the work, will qualified interpreters be provided with qualified teams?
If we won’t work with (boycott) FLA it means they will lose their contract and they won’t be able to provide services. If we all agree to work with them then sign agencies will be gone. Short term suffering for long-term benefit.
If Deaf consumers have a complaint, who should they take it to? They need to complain to the people who pay for the services. Consumers need to complain to people who pay for the services.
Refusing to work with FLA hurts our business.
One stop shop – want to fill all requests with one agency – tends to be government or social services that use FLA for one-stop shops. In that population, it is the hardest for Deaf to advocate for themselves.
If we don’t work for them, it could get worse – because others will. Why not subcontract with them? FLA hire Sign agency.
Some type of white paper could be made up that has information provided by interpreters and deaf and given to FLA so they know about the population they are serving.
FL agencies have a network and an advantage over small businesses
4. What does any agency need to do to be legitimate in your eyes?
Can they run a business?
Can they give us the info we need for a job?
Assigning jobs first come first served isn’t always the best
Pay on time
Have professional communication
Deaf friendly practices
Doesn’t give personal information to the interpreter
Has a relationship with both Deaf and interpreter community
The manner in which they recruit interpreters
Transparency of the business – what’s happening in the business, business, policies, etc.
Who set up the agency and what for?
Website – do they have one? If so, it should be accurate
What are they about?
Who has worked with them – their experiences good or bad
They should have a Deaf or CODA on staff to advocate
Coordinator must know ASL or hire someone ASL proficient
Experience hiring and working with ASL interpreters
Some agencies are often not willing to put their info in writing, only want to make agreements orally. If they aren’t willing to document it, maybe they aren’t kosher.
Root of the problem – why are FLA taking over?
Should be involved in a Deaf professional organizations, have visibility to Deaf community and be involved in Deaf events
Strong business background, know how to bid, etc.
Give back to the Deaf community and 3-way feedback: from requester, consumer, and interpreter
Agency should be involved with providing interpreters for 911 and legal/health emergency situations
Set-up a reference site like thumbs up, info about the agency, etc.
Reputation in the community
Website – clear and easy to glean info about business practices and should contain reviews
Communication access through the web. How to communicate with them; vlog, VRS, VP, etc.
Facebook, twitter .
Who makes up the pool of interpreters?
Accepts preferences from consumers
Honors Deaf person’s requests
After hours availability
Knowledge of interpreting process
Should have a pool of interpreters with specialized skills
Shows a concern for interpreter’s working conditions