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Community Forum on Foreign Language Agencies - June 2012

Tuesday, May 07, 2013 12:57 PM | Anonymous

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

Office staff
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

Community connection

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

Require references

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

pays late

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

Lost trust

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?

Less income

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.

Mission statement

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

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