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RID Conference Report – Day 2 – Tuesday

 By Kalen BeckGet in the GAP! – By now, I have found the food court that is connected to the hotel via a habit trail and have learned to be there early enough to get food and get back to my 8:30 am workshop: Get in the GAP! How Government Affairs Program Relates to YOU!  Forum, Part 1. The speaker, Janet Bailey, is the RID GAP representative.  She has spoken several times at NVRC giving updates to local interpreters about the work of RID on Capitol Hill and with other consumer organizations.  Since I have the privilege of working alongside Cheryl Heppner, much of this information is not new – but I'm happy to see RID finally taking a seat at the table for many of these legislative issues and having a voice for the interpreting field.  Some of the topics the GAP is working on include:

  • State licensure
  • VRS working conditions
  • Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1
  • Dept of Labor – Interpreter classification

Janet closed the session by asking folks what were some of the “hot topics” in their neck of the woods and the consensus seems to be state certifications and licensure.  Many folks from Michigan are dealing with new legislation that is affecting working interpreters.  The District of Columbia is also facing new legislation that will affect interpreters working for the District.

Emerging Issues for Interpreters in the K-12 Setting: Student with Cochlear Implants – There were so many good topics to choose from, but I decided to settle into this three-hour workshop and hear how students with cochlear implants were impacting how interpreters did their work.  WOW – did I get myself into an awesome workshop!  I've learned a lot about cochlear implants this past year working here at NVRC, but I learned so much more in this 3-hour workshop.  Our presenters who were from the Ohio School for the Deaf, Pamela Brodie and Jean Parmir, opened with a basic review of what is a cochlear implant, how it works  and how a cochlear implant is different than a hearing aid.  Some interesting statistics they shared:

  • (as of 2010) ≈ 188,000 people worldwide have received a cochlear implant
  • In the US – 41,500 adults and 25,500 children
  • Worldwide, the approval age of implantation is as low as four months old
  • (in the US) Children are routinely implanted between 12-24 months old

The presenters showed several videos of kids from the Ohio School for the Deaf who have cochlear implants and their feelings about having CIs.  These perspectives really gave us a feeling of their everyday routines and how their implant plays a role.  Even though all of the students sign, many of them rely on their hearing in the classroom and learning settings and utilize sign language when they are on the playground, performing sports or hanging out with friends.

One of the surprising discoveries is the change in attitudinal barriers from folks who previously were opposed to cochlear implants.  One example they cited was the shift in NAD’s Position Papers on the topic:

  • 1993 Position Paper – “The NAD DEPLORES the decision of the Food and Drug Administration which was Unsound scientifically, procedurally, and ethically.”
  • Current Position Paper – The NAD recognizes diversity, welcomes all…regardless of … use of technologies, subscribes to the wellness model, recognizes all technological advances, and recognizes the rights of parents to make informed choices [and] respects their choice to use cochlear implants and all other assistive devices.

The last bit of news that was a bit of a shocker was related to students with cochlear implants’ IEPs.  Apparently some students with CIs who are at or above grade level in academics may be declared “no longer eligible under IDEA”.  At that time, the school may suggest that the child be moved under Section 504 “Reasonable Accommodations.”  Unfortunately, the parents and student do not have the same rights, accommodations and access to services under Section 504 as they do under IDEA.  Some examples are:

IDEA Section 504
Interpreting, tutoring, note-taking, captioned media Interpreting, tutoring, note-taking, captioned media
Speech/language therapy or auditory training None provided
Modification of academic content No modification of academic content
Special Educators involved in writing/implementing IEP Sp Ed not involved in developing/implementing 504 plan
Transportation, independent evaluations provided None provided
Parental involvement and consent required No parental consent required
Allows for due process No due process

The presenters continued to talk in-depth about different accommodations that can be provided for students with a cochlear implant.  For a copy of the PowerPoint and more information, you can visit their website at:

Exhibit Hall – This year the RID Exhibit Hall was not booming like in years past.  I think the economy has taken a toll on the number of sponsors and exhibitors that could afford to travel this year.  The compilation of this year’s exhibit hall fit into these categories:

  • Interpreting and/or VRS Companies:  9  (4 of them local to the DC area)
  • ASL Learning Products/CEU Earning products:  8
  • Colleges/Universities offering Interpreter Training Programs:  5

The other few booths consisted of an assisted living community for deaf-blind individuals, a deaf-owned insurance agency, some telecom equipment distribution services and a couple of deaf-products and/or community-based organization.  Based on this composite, the need for more qualified interpreters was evident.  It was interesting to see the number of colleges and universities there – many of them have graduate degrees related to deaf studies, deaf education or interpreting.  I'm guessing one of the reasons for their presence was due to the educational requirements set forth by RID prior to taking the certification exams.