Midway through my Bard College summer REU, it is becoming clearer to me how I have been spoiled. At Williams College, all ASL interpreters who work for me are required to possess RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf) certification. To obtain that title, interpreters have to possess a standard, national excellence of sign language fluency, knowledge, and skill. They have to pass tests and other requirements detailed on the linked website. The situation was the same at the University of Washington’s Summer Academy. During an “Academy Base,” which was the 9:00 to 10:30 AM time slot when all the students would gather around in a room and listen to several lecturers, the disability coordinator there once said verbatim: “Have you noticed that all the interpreters here are really good?”
They were outstanding, and I’m wishing the same quality of services existed at the Bard College REU. I am grateful that Bard has generously provided me with interpreting services for all talks, even for those based on such abstruse topics that I would never be able to understand. The interpreters here, unfortunately, are not in the same class as those at Williams College or the University of Washington. They remind me of my interpreters during high school. That is the effect of being spoiled; you are gift-wrapped something outstanding, and do not want to release it and obtain a lesser version the next day. Even though the law requires that someone like me is entitled interpreting services, institutions can provide accommodations of varying quality.
So for all RID-certified interpreters out there, thank you for taking the extra step to ensure that you are delivering high quality interpreting services. I can only hope that my own signing will be up to your standards one day.