Day 3: Evolution
Saturday July 22 2017
Today was the most challenging day for me, at the same time left me with more actionable items to take with me. I’ll begin with the most challenging. Carla Shird, CDI, LPC, our fourth plenary speaker touched on “Unpacking Power and Privilege”, as she told her story on her experiences with power and privilege. It was not what I was expecting to receive as she began to talk about her experiences with CODA interpreters who have exercised their power and privilege at her expense. During a meeting Carla participated in involving a CODA interpreter who was not “the” interpreter for this particular meeting, but rather involved as one of the participants, Carla mentioned she had noticed a striking divide. The divide in how this particular CODA interpreter behaved, to the position in which they sat, to how they chose to communicate in spoken English rather than ASL; because they wanted to represent themselves better and having a hired interpreter interpret for them would have somehow degraded her representation. Carla also shared a story about her experiences at medical appointments, especially when she is accompanied with her daughter, that CODA interpreters, once realizing Carla’s daughter can hear, began speaking in English to her. Because Carla had taught her daughter to always sign when Deaf individuals are present so that everyone can remain included, the CODA interpreter excluded Carla by choosing to communicate in a language she couldn’t access, which went against everything she had taught her daughter.
This hit home for me, because I saw myself in several of her stories and realize that although I may mean well, the impact of my actions may not always coincide with my intentions. For so long I tried fighting against the stereotypes of CODA interpreters through my actions and here was Carla Shird, a notably respected colleague sharing her experiences. I had a lot of mixed feelings at the conclusion of her presentation. I was angry, offended, sad and disappointed at both myself and for the rest of my CODA brothers and sisters. It made me think of how I must have been perceived every single time I met a Deaf individual during an interpreted setting and whether or not they have had similar experiences Carla had. It also made me see how our actions are more than what we say or the guidelines we think we are abiding by. Carla stated that, the mission of RID is made real through our action, not what’s written. It is through our actions that define the interpreter we are and ultimately what makes up RID.
The second plenary speaker was a duo with Carla Shird and Jonathan Webb, “Unpacking & Investigating Our Responsibility Within an Inherited System of Unequalized Power: the Interpreter and Deaf “Consumer” Relationship.” The history of the interpreting field has grown exponentially throughout time from different interpreting approaches starting from a Helper model, to Conduit/ machine-like to a Communication facilitator model, to the more recent, Bilingual bi-cultural model and the Ally model. During this presentation they proposed an idea of the interpreting field entering a new era, away from “Ally” to what was termed the Accomplice model. This meant being one with the Deaf community and resisting an oppressive system together. I’m curious to see how this new age in interpreting models comes into fruition and how it gels with our Code of Professional Conduct, as we know it; more specifically for me as a Deaf parented interpreter, how would I broker the fine line between being an accomplice while respecting the boundaries of Deaf individuals.
Saturday July 22 2017