September 11, 2001 I was working as the staff interpreter at a school for the deaf. I was between assignments saw the news. THE news. At that point, only the first tower had been hit. My first instinct was "Go tell all the deaf people!" I went from classroom to classroom, telling the deaf teachers. Within minutes everyone gathered in the library in front of the big TV and I began to interpret. I knew that what I was doing was not a product of my JOB DUTIES, it was a product of my CONNECTION to the deaf community.
Which brings me to "Live Access ASL." During the Democratic National Conference, Shonna Magee posted this on Facebook:
Any interpreters willing to join and interpret for DNC tonight?
And then soon there was a schedule and then there were live videos going on Facebook from interpreters from all over the country making the DNC accessible in ASL and Signed English. What a brilliant use of social media!
It was a grassroots movement. It was people coming together to try and do something innovative.
Of course, there was at least one nay-sayer. Luckily I did not see his comment. I think it was the great philosopher Taylor Swift who said, "Haters gonna hate."
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post in which I said "Using ASL only as a source of income is an abuse of privilege and exploiting a language community." Some people balked at this, saying they didn't have the time and energy after working all week and taking care of family. My response was that, it wasn't always about pro bono work. It was about being open and willing to seize opportunities to give back.
Something as simple as a hearing interpreter asking all his or her health care providers if they provide interpreters and being willing to change providers if the answer is "No" --- is an act of solidarity and social justice.
Not everyone one is willing to put their skills out on Facebook, but for those who did...mad kudos! For others, "Think globally, act locally."