The EIPA: A summary

The Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) is a test that evaluates the skills of a sign language interpreter in the classroom. It was developed and is administered by the Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska aka Boys Town. It’s important because the results are acknowledged by law in many states.

The exam is a performance exam. There is a written exam, known as the EIPA Written which is not as well-known or as popular as the performance. EIPA in this post refers only to the Performance exam. The EIPA takes about 2 hours. Before starting, the interpreter gets to choose from 1 of 6 different tests: 3 language modes (ASL, PSE or MCE) over 2 age groups (elementary school or secondary school). (There is also a Cued speech option). The the candidate interprets a video of three scenarios in which children answer questions in the selected mode.

There is a limited number of places that you can take the performance EIPA. Alaska has several but Connecticut has none. There’s even a smaller list of places to take the EIPA written. It’s probably because of few state laws around education interpreting in those areas.

The cities that offer the performance EIPA and are within a few hours of ASLI’s main service areas:
New York, NY at LaGuardia Community College
Union County College, New Jersey
DHCC in Swarthmore, PA
Alexandria, VA
Columbia, MD
Worcester, MA

The EIPA is great because you do get actual feedback on your performance, not just a score. But a score you get between one and five in tenths of a point. So, you may get a 4.2 or a 3.8. Most states that require the EIPA set 3.5 as the minimum, but a few use 4.0 or 3.0.

The EIPA and Boys Town is completely different exam process and organization from the NIC and RID. It even has a separate code of ethics. There is a slight cross-over in that RID at one point (between 2006 and 2016) you could apply for a special RID certification if you had a 4.0 or higher on the EIPA. That no longer is true.

The EIPA is completely separate from any other screening process conducted by ASLI or the NYC Department of Education.

The EIPA is a strong indicator of an interpreter’s ability to work well in classroom settings, but is not the only measure. ASLI is working with some local organizations and Boys Town to get local exam sites established in New York.

For even more information on the EIPA, visit

RID National Conference, Day Three: Evolution

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

Deaf Interpreter Conference 2017 – Diana

ASLI sponsored two Deaf interpreters to go to the Deaf Interpreter Conference II at Villanova University in Pennsylvania July 12th through July 16th, 2017.

This was Diana Abayeva’s experience:



Deaf Interpreter Conference 2017 – Stacie

ASLI sponsored two Deaf interpreters to go to the Deaf Interpreter Conference II at Villanova University in Pennsylvania July 12th through July 16th, 2017.


This was Stacie Stelmach’s experience:


Interpreters needed

ASLI is looking specifically for certified interpreters interested in working in:

Wilmington, DE: College classes. Medical appointments.
Newark, DE: Community meetings. Medical appointments.

Washington, DC: Medical appointments.
Frederick, MD: Vocational rehabilitation.

Flushing, NY: College classes.
New York, NY: College classes. Medical appointments.
Bronx, NY: Medical appointments. Social work visits.
Farmingdale  (Nassau County), NY: Government meetings.

We also have openings for non-certified interpreters working in:
Wilmington, DE: Educational
Newark, DE: Community meetings.
New York, NY: Medical appointments.
Bronx, NY: Medical appointments. Social work visits.

RID National Conference, Day Two: Tools with a Purpose

Day 2: Tools with a Purpose
Friday July 21 2017

Today consisted of two plenary speakers, Wing Butler and Heather Harker. Wing is currently the Director of Sales at GoReact, a company that specializes in improving interpreter education through cloud-based video software. I knew of Wing, through the highly regarded remarks from teachers in my interpreting program, as well as his frequent contribution to the publication of Street Leverage. Plus, like me, he’s a CODA. Heather Harker is currently Chief of Staff in the President’s Office at Gallaudet University. Recently, Heather was director of programs at Third Sector New England (TSNE), which focused on building power, knowledge, and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations and has served as a consultant to RID. Their topics of Discovering the Keys to a Purpose Driven Future; Learning from Organizational Life Cycles and Leadership: Influencing Organizational Change really set the tone that would be the ongoing theme throughout the conference.

I honestly don’t think I would have been receptive as soon as I was, had day one not occurred. Since then, I felt closer to RID than ever before, both figuratively and literally, which helped me value my stake in RID much more. This newfound value opened me up to see the possibilities to influence organizational change to benefit my profession and the lives of Deaf individuals both on a local and national level. Of course, that’s easier said than done and after watching Wing present, I now have the most important tool to make change and that is ‘purpose’. Heather provided the tools to assess organization cycles and how to influence change, by discerning the difference between technical work and adaptive work; problems that are clear in solution and implementation versus problems that require changes in values, beliefs, roles, relationships and approaches to work.

Both are needed and used daily, but figuring out which approach to use and when, is where the magic lies.

The structure of this conference in of itself was essentially both technical and adaptive; the plenary speakers being technical and the small group discussions requiring most of the adaptive work. The dialogue from these small groups brought the most insight to the possibilities of what we can accomplish as a collective on a national level and, most importantly, what we are capable of as individuals on local levels. Going through this process further clarified the connection I have with not only RID, but to the field of interpreting just as much as we all are connected to society.

Oftentimes I find that many of us, myself included, blame outward for the ills we face, when in fact outward is only a mere reflection of ourselves. Considering Wing’s father described his current understanding of RID as C-O-L-D, examining ourselves and our role, and how our role impacts others, is the first step to the adaptive work necessary to create the change we wish to see. 

RID National Conference, Day One: Expectations

Thursday July 20th 2017

Day 1: Expectations

Managing expectations was my first hurdle. This was my first RID conference and with no prior conference experience, I had nothing to compare it with to create any realistic expectations of my own. Quite honestly it didn’t take long to realize I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. As soon as I landed in Salt Lake City, Utah, I saw our past Region 1 Representative Lewis Merkin at the airport with a small to medium size luggage and a messenger bag across his shoulder. Here I was with an extra large suitcase, with the expansion zipper option utilized, a duffle bag and a stuffed backpack strapped over my shoulders. The conference was 4 days and I must have packed at least three different outfit selections for each day, just in case the day called for something I wasn’t appropriately dressed for. There was something I was definitely missing so I made sure to get on the same shuttle bus Lewis was taking to the hotel so I could pick his brain and deconstruct my assumptions of RID conferences to better manage my expectation.

To be fair, this conference was special, to the extent that nobody really knew what to expect, since the design, focus and purpose behind this year’s conference had never been done in RID conference history.

The purpose of the Leadership Track of the 2017 LEAD Together conference is to create a shared opportunity for volunteer leaders and practitioners in the community to come together and address key issues facing the organization and its membership in order to advance the mission of RID. This purpose will be achieved through shared access to plenary presentations addressing relevant topics, followed by small group discussions wherein participants will apply the plenary topics to the experiences of individual members and to the work of the association on local, state, and national levels. Through collaboration, the small groups will identify strategic recommendations that will be submitted to RID for use in the 2018-2023 Strategic Planning Process.    ©RID, 2017


Once I checked into the Hilton hotel the first pre-conference event I attended was the Deaf Parented Interpreter member section and that’s where my transformation process started. The stories that were shared really resonated with me on all levels form personal, professional and even spiritual. I was able to see myself in every one and experience a level of CODA brother/sisterhood in a way I’ve never experienced before. Having Melvin Walker, the President of RID, whom I thought, prior to my arrival was untouchable, unreachable, and was disconnected to me, share his story, which brought half the room to tears, allowed me, on my first day, less than an hour of my arrival to connect with him on a deeper level I would have never expected could have happened; and it did. This completely shifted the lens in which I would approach the conference moving forward.

NJAD response

Earlier this week, I was asked by a board member of NJRID to respond to this video by NJAD president, Michele Cline.

This was my response:

Her description of the contract is accurate and the Deaf community’s concerns are understandable. ASLI shares the same concerns.

In short, there are good agencies and bad agencies. Hopefully, the evaluation committee chooses good agencies over bad, even if their price is higher.

I can tell you about our agency’s perspective. By bidding on this contract, we are looking to administer it to the satisfaction of the Deaf community, the interpreting community, and the state. If there is an interpreter that a Deaf consumer prefers, wonderful, that actually makes our job easier.

From my experience bidding on eight RFPs in the past three years, I can tell you only an agency of a certain size will win. Applicants need a business license, financial statements, and experience in administering similar sized contracts. Individual interpreters, coalitions of interpreters, and small agencies are not going to be considered. This does not mean that local interpreters will lose work since there are only a limited number of certified interpreters in any area and a smart and ethical agency will try for “business as usual” for interpreters.

Deaf/Blind interpreting is actually not covered under this RFP. It can be offered as an optional service, but the winning agency does not need to provide tactile interpreters. Presumably, state agencies would continue to order those services as they have been.

The essential question of NJAD seems to be, how can they increase the chances that their needs are met, especially around requesting preferred interpreters and giving feedback about agency performance?

After February 28th, when bid are due, a group of people, the evaluation committee, will sit down with a pile of proposals and start reading them. They will score them based on a few “technical” factors, namely the agency’s experience, personnel, and ability. Then they’ll look at the prices the agencies submitted.

Based on the technical score and the price, the committee will award contracts, likely one or two for each of the three regions. My guess is it will take at least four months to award a contract.

The big question is: how much will the evaluation committee weigh the non-price factors? I don’t believe that NJ has established a method for evaluating the different factors or weighing those with the price.

That is where NJAD can influence the process. Since the evaluation criteria aren’t set in stone and the decisions are made by live people the community can express their concerns. Who is on the committee? No one knows yet, but it will be at least one person from Dept of Purchase and Property who issued the RFP plus, hopefully, representatives from the biggest users: DDHH (Deaf/HoH), DCF (Children), LWD (Voc Rehab) and DHMH (hospitals).

NJAD members can contact DDHH and other agencies and let them know what is important to you. That seems to be:
The bid demonstrates the ability and desire to match consumer requests with specific interpreters.
The bid includes a complaint system within the agency.
The final evaluation should weigh the quality of the technical proposal more heavily that the price.

Also, NJAD or individual Deaf can write letters of recommendation or support to agencies to include in their proposal.

Hopefully, the selection committee will value quality and ethics over price.


David Jondreau


Commercial featuring Deaf professional footballer

Kojo Nnamdi hosts Gallaudet

Kojo Nnamdi with Dr. Melanie Metzger Chair of Gallaudet’s Interpretation Department. Using South African Thamsanqa Jantjie’s sign language interpreting fraud at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service as a starting point, Kojo and Dr. Metzger have an informative question and answer session about sign language and interpreting!