A Shift in the San Diego Landscape

cliff_small_headshot

Thirty days ago NIS announced a restructuring plan to our staff interpreters in San Diego. Word of this quickly spread to the Deaf and interpreting community, leading to some rumors and speculation. Well, today is that day of transition, and I would like to speak about these changes.

First of all, this was NOT an easy decision for me or the company. I prize our staff interpreters and have enjoyed, and hopefully will continue to enjoy, a heartfelt friendship and association with all of them. I like them no less than my own family. Some of those caught up in this restructuring have been with us for OVER 20 years! To not be considered their employer anymore, is, for me, the end of a dream, a dream that I could be, practically speaking, someone’s “lifetime” employer. (It is a good thing I am typing this because I would have to leave the room if I was trying to say this in front of a live audience right now) (The people here in Starbucks must think I’ve had the worst coffee ever!)

I’d like to also say that I’m not the boss of everything. Like the weather, there are some things that are out of my control. Business landscapes go through changes in the weather. Some weather is manageable, some weather requires restructuring afterwards. Usually, after restructuring, the building is stronger and more prepared for the next storm that might arise. I expect that to be the case here too. We’re not folding our tent. We plan to be around for years to come.

When it was announced that NIS planned to release ALL of their staff interpreters into the freelance marketplace in San Diego, some with an interest in this didn’t know what to make of it. They asked..”what does this mean?”. Well, in real terms, if you’re curious, this involved 8 interpreters. Some assume, because of name recognition, that it must mean far more interpreters than that. This is because MOST of the interpreters we work with are freelance interpreters. These 8 will now be joining, if they choose, the much larger group of freelance interpreters in the area. It is very likely that if you are a customer/client accustomed to receiving service from them, that you WILL see them again.  We value the many relationships we have in San Diego with you, our customers, clients, and contractors. That has not changed and will never change. We will continue to do our very best to be flexible and professional when meeting your scheduling needs.

I just returned from San Diego. I had been there for a week. I apologize to those I didn’t get to see or those friends and professional colleagues who did not know I was in town! In the weeks and months to come I will be in San Diego more frequently and hope to see and catch up with all of you. Next time I will announce my arrival through Facebook and Twitter and should have more time to visit.

Cliff Hanks
President
Network Interpreting Service Inc.

Interpreters are “Expensive”

cliff_small_headshotOver the years I have witnessed people refer to American Sign Language Interpreters as “expensive.” I would like to suggest that this label is, at most, unjustified, or at least, not helpful.

It is of course quite rare for a Deaf individual to pay for interpreting services out of their own pocket. The cost of service is almost always paid for by the organizations with whom they are engaging. Perhaps it is a little ironic, or only coincidental, that it is often Deaf consumers who throw the word “expensive” into the discussion. Depending on their role or involvement, a Deaf consumer may or may not know how affordable the services are for the organization actually securing the service.

An unanticipated cost does not, by definition, equal “expensive”. For most organizations, ASL interpreting expenses are rare. Because of this, they are often forgotten during the budgeting process and end up surprising those in charge. An unanticipated expense may be painful but that does not necessarily mean the services being paid for are expensive. If, for example, a large convention, thinking ahead, added a few cents or dollars to the cost of general registration to prepare for the rare but possible cost of communication access requests, the expense would be easily managed and the label of “expensive” may not be tossed around so freely, stigmatizing communication access.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to the price of interpreters. They are, in my opinion, neither expensive nor cheap. Their price ranges fluctuate according to the cities where they live, work, play, raise families and make contributions. Each city or region has a certain cost of living, a certain number of qualified interpreters available in the pool, and a certain volume and style of demand. These dynamics, along with costs associated with securing and then maintaining professional certification, year round workshop attendance, professional liability insurance, vehicle maintenance and travel costs, ultimately determine the price. That being said, it has been my observation that interpreting services are still perfectly and completely affordable by practically every organization that is asked or required to secure them. Therefore there is no reason, in my opinion, to intentionally or unintentionally shame interpreters by throwing the word “expensive” into the mix. If we want to attract and keep a talented, highly qualified pool of interpreters who are available 24/7/365, along with related support systems, then we should hope and pray they are well and fairly compensated; perhaps even close to “expensive”.

Cliff Hanks
President,
Network Interpreting Service Inc.

(This originally appeared in the Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing August 2014 Newsletter)

RID Special Election Results

The RID has announced the results of the recently held special election for the positions of Secretary and Deaf Member-at-Large on the RID Board of Directors.

Here are the results:

For Secretary:
*Daryl Crouse 1243 (49.3%)
Jonathan Webb 785 (31.1%)
Caroline Bass 493 (19.6%)

For Deaf Member-at-Large:
*Priscilla Moyers 1436 (57.0%)
Branton Stewart 1085 (43.0%)

The voting began on January 1, 2014, and ended at 11:59pm EST, January 31, 2014.

Here is their signed video announcement: