After my first conference workshop

I presented my workshop "Knowing What They’re Going to Say Before They Say It: Using Genre Recognition to Improve Your Predictive Skills" at the Arizona RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf) State Conference on Saturday, March 28, 2009 from 1-4:30 PM. It was the first time I’d ever presented at a state conference, and they put me in the smallest meeting room (the Palo Verde room) at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

Can you believe that a total of 27 attendees filled this room beyond capacity? I was astounded at the turnout. I was too busy during my workshop to even think about taking pictures, but as I was leaving the space after packing up all my things, I paused to say a prayer of thanks; then I took this photo to commemorate the moment. I am hopeful to teach workshops at other conferences throughout the rest of my life. It may sound corny, (more…)

Working on bylaws in HTML and CSS

Yesterday, I spent some time revising the bylaws I wrote for SDCRID so they could be repurposed for AzRID. The AzRID president asked me to do this, because she had heard from a little bird (Rob Balaam, RID Region 5 Representative) that I had done the bylaws for SDCRID. Since there are some interesting lessons to be learned from my work about bylaws and, incidentally, about HTML and CSS, I thought it might be beneficial to share them here.

First of all, my sources for the bylaws were the RID bylaws, the RID Affliate Chapter Handbook Sample Bylaws (pp 238–257), and the AzRID bylaws (which link will probably be broken soon when they upload the new ones). I also consulted Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised when I was writing the SDCRID bylaws. I pretty much followed the Sample Bylaws except when I felt the RID bylaws were clearer or more up-to-date. I also, of course, checked the AzRID bylaws for any special bylaws that needed to stay. That takes care of the bylaws part of it.

I also had an interesting challenge and a gratifying success with writing the bylaws in a plain-text editor (BBEdit) using XHTML 1.1 and CSS. I did this because I wanted tight control over sectioning and listing. Bylaws documents need to be very structured. One can write in all the sections, subsections, and list numbers, but that is a waste of time, especially if one ever wants to rearrange the order of sections and list items. If one does use styles in a word processing program, sometimes formatting can become corrupted during routine editing operations such as cutting, pasting, deleting, etc., and then one can lose the document structure. Besides, I enjoy the challenge of hand-coding HTML and CSS, and I like to demonstrate the power of these structural and presentational markup languages working hand-in-hand.


There Are No "Inalienable Rights"!

The current code of ethics for ASL interpreters is the joint NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct. That document contains in its preface a section titled, “Philosophy,” which reads as follows:

The American Deaf community represents a cultural and linguistic group having the inalienable right to full and equal communication and to participation in all aspects of society. Members of the American Deaf community have the right to informed choice and the highest quality interpreting services. Recognition of the communication rights of America’s women, men, and children who are deaf is the foundation of the tenets, principles, and behaviors set forth in this Code of Professional Conduct.

As an RID-certified interpreter and transliterator, I must agree to uphold and follow this code of professional conduct — and I do — but there is a bit of nonsense in that paragraph that I cannot endorse, and that is the fallacy of “inalienable rights.”

It is ironic that such a fallacy is promulgated under the heading “Philosophy.” Anyone familiar with philosophy knows that rights are social constructs: they are given by society and can be taken away by society. “Inalienable” means “cannot be taken away.” Well, the fact is that rights are given and rights are taken away.

It may sound paternalistic to say so, but (more…)

“The ADA and Interpreters” workshop review

On April 2, SCRID sponsored a workshop entitled “The ADA and Interpreters” on the Palomar College campus in San Marcos. The four-hour workshop, presented by Darlene West, gave participants an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act as it is written, interpreted and enforced. Darlene’s bold and animated style brought to life the five titles of the ADA covering employment, state and local government, public accommodations, telecommunications, and miscellaneous provisions. She peppered her lecture with vivid anecdotes, lifting the text of the ADA off the page and into the realm of everyday life.

Darlene discussed how to successfully navigate some of the loopholes of the ADA, such as “reasonable accommodation” and “readily achievable” versus “undue hardship” and “direct threat,” “program accessibility” versus “site accessibility,” and “fundamental alterations.”

She referred to section 35.104 to define the term “qualified interpreter” as required under section 35.160 (“Auxiliary Aids and Services.”) According to ADA section 35.104, a qualified interpreter is, “one who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.”

The workshop itself was made accessible to the deaf via both ASL interpreting and real-time captioning, the latter provided by the firm Words Apart, using Rapidtext Infosign.

Darlene handed out plenty of supplemental literature and supplied the following toll-free phone numbers for those who wish to pursue more detailed information: 1-800-USA-ABLE, 1-800-USA-EEOC, and for TTY, 1-800-800-3302.

Darlene West is the co-owner of Accommodating Ideas, Inc., an enterprise based in North Hollywood established to consult with businesses to provide training in how to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Her firm also handles the provision of interpreting services and the rental and sale of auxiliary aids. Ms. West holds a CAD level V “Master” Certificate of Competence, and is a veteran ASL interpreter.

This review originally appeared in the SCRID newsletter in June 1994. Darlene West’s name has since changed to Darlene Geyer. Hyperlinks were added in 2012 for publication on