CHRIS: My name is Chris Wagner. I am the president of the National Association of the Deaf. I want to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on the NAD Board of Directors meeting, held last week at the Robert G. Sanderson Community Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. During this time, we had the opportunity to interact with students and educators at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, including the Kenneth C. Burdett School and the Jean Massieu School. We also held a community town hall meeting at the Sanderson Center, in partnership with the Utah Association of the Deaf (UAD).
The NAD Board meeting focused primarily on decisions by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Board on the long-standing NAD-RID partnership and the NAD-RID National Interpreter Certification (NIC). First, RID announced a credentialing moratorium on all RID certifications including the NIC at its national conference in August 2015. Second, RID disbanded the NAD-RID Certification Committee effective December 31, 2015. Third, RID announced its decision in December 2015 to establish a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to administer and develop RID tests including the NIC. More information about the moratorium and the LLC can be found on the RID website.
Recently, the RID invited the NAD to join in establishing a plan and vision for a “collaborative and jointly shared LLC.” The NAD Board carefully examined its historical relationship with RID, starting with the organization’s establishment in 1964 and cooperative efforts by the deaf and interpreter communities throughout the decades since. This collaboration included representation on joint endeavors on mutual issues of importance to the deaf and interpreter communities. For instance, the NAD provided RID with office space during its inception, collaborated with RID through the NAD-RID Task Force (later Council) on Interpreting, worked with RID to develop a joint Code of Professional Conduct, and raised funds to develop the first NAD-RID NIC, among many other initiatives.
The NAD Board took into consideration the current and serious challenges that RID faces in the areas of leadership, governance, membership, operations, financial, and legal issues – all of which were identified in the RID risk analysis and organizational assessment reports shared with the NAD Board.
The NAD Board recognizes the work of the 2013-2015 NAD-RID Certification Committee with NAD representatives Bobbie Beth Scoggins and Judith Gilliam, as chair, along with four RID certified members, one public member; Howard Rosenblum and I served as liaisons. The committee included the development of recommendations on the future of all RID certifications (including the NAD-RID NIC). They developed credentialing best practices and rigorous national standards with an implementation plan for the delivery of relevant, reliable and valid examinations for applicable credentials. The NAD-RID Certification Committee created policies to standardize how and when exams are revised or retired. The committee also provided recommendations for the next iteration of the NAD-RID NIC test, including a completed Job Task Analysis (JTA).
On January 17, 2016, during the last morning of the NAD Board meeting in Salt Lake City, RID President Dawn Whitcher and RID Board Secretary Joshua Pennise responded to questions from the NAD. The NAD Board recognizes that RID is facing many challenges, and emphasized that lifting the RID moratorium on testing was a top priority, out of concern for the nation’s deaf and interpreter communities. The RID Board representatives were unable to commit to a definite time to lift the moratorium and adequately address all of the NAD Board’s concerns about the LLC. As a result, the NAD Board determined by unanimous vote to decline RID’s invitation join the LLC effort. This was followed by a unanimous vote to cease NAD partnership with RID with on the NAD-RID National Interpreter Certification (NIC) effective as of January 17, 2016. Finally, the NAD Board unanimously voted to mandate that RID to lift the NIC moratorium or recognize the Texas Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) certification system by April 15, 2016. I have informed RID President Whichter of the NAD Board decisions and expectations.
It is imperative the new LLC created by the RID is capable of successfully administering and developing RID certification programs including the NAD-RID NIC. We encourage the RID and the representatives steering the development of the new LLC entity to incorporate the recommendations of the NAD-RID Certification Committee in its plans. The NAD Board is deeply concerned that the structural and financial plan for supporting sustainable testing administration and development cycles in the new LLC is inadequate. The decisions made by the RID and its LLC representatives will have a significant impact on the quality of interpreter services throughout the nation.
The NAD Board is committed to taking the necessary measures, in collaboration with state and national organizations that share the NAD’s philosophy on partnerships, to build systems including interpreter training, certification, ethics enforcement, and professional development that foster the expansion of qualified and certified interpreters nationwide. This goal can only be attained only through mutually agreed upon decision-making and collaborative efforts between the deaf and interpreter communities where both honor and respect each other’s values and expectations. The sign language interpreting profession is in dire need of fundamental change to achieve a future where every deaf person has access to certified and qualified interpreters everywhere in the United States.
I will provide the next update regarding the RID decisions after the next NAD Board of Directors meeting which takes place April 15-18, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. In the meantime, the NAD Board encourages the deaf and interpreter communities across the country to engage in open, honest, and constructive dialogue on the important elements that define a successful and collaborative partnership. Thank you for your support.