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RID has been thrilled with the response that we have gotten to the NIC Job Task Analysis (JTA) so far!  We appreciate all the time interpreters and consumers have spent time thoughtfully responding to this survey.  Many have also chosen to write feedback about the survey as well and a common theme has been curiosity about how this survey was developed.  The invitation to the survey gave some hints about this information, but many have asked for more details about the process.

A detailed outline of the process will be provided in the report of the JTA, which will be published once the survey findings have been analyzed. However, in an effort to respond to the many questions we’ve received, below are the key points of the process, focusing on the level of community participation and the people involved to date.

This survey is the culmination of many months of work by the 2013-2015 Certification Committee (CC) and the contractor the CC selected via an RFP process, the Caviart Group. It should be noted that the Certification Committee worked with the Caviart Group to identify a Deaf Consultant to assist with this process.  On February 2, 2015, RID announced that Dr. Glenn Anderson would serve in this capacity.  Dr. Anderson played a key role in each of these phases, providing consultation about the Deaf community and conducting some interviews and meetings.

Our intent was to gather input from all parts of the interpreter and Deaf communities.  As such, we designed a process that would start broadly and then narrow down our focus to get to the JTA survey itself.  There were three phases to this process – interviews, focus groups, and a panel meeting.

The end goal of all this work is to determine what the expectations should be for a newly certified NIC interpreter on a national level. Another way of thinking about this is to think about the minimum level of knowledge and competency an interpreter must possess to be effective upon entry into the profession. The interpreting profession has seen significant changes since the last survey of this nature was conducted in 2002.  For example, there has been significant growth in the number of and use of Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs).  The 2002 study did not include any language about working with CDIs.  Therefore, it is important to refresh our knowledge of the interpreting landscape in order to ensure that we are evaluating what is relevant for today’s interpreter.

Traditionally, a JTA does not include anything except a panel meeting and validation survey.  However,RID felt that a greater level of participation from the community would yield stronger results.  Therefore, we adopted an expanded approach to gathering information.  In particular, it was deemed that participation from the Deaf community was critical at all stages of the process.

In Phase One of the project we conducted interviews of experienced interpreters and Deaf consumers.  A total of 14, half-hour, interviews were conducted in late 2014 and early 2015.  Interviews were conducted in the preferred language of the interviewee.  Interviewees were selected using recommendations from the CC and through individuals who indicated willingness to participate in the JTA process on the Pre-JTA survey conducted in 2010.

The interviews were designed to gather high-level information about the interpreting profession as it exists today.  Interviewers had a list of standard questions but were allowed the freedom to pursue topics as the conversations flowed.  The following individuals were interviewed as a part of this process:

  • MJ Bienvenu, Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Glendia Boon, Hearing
  • Stephanie Clark, Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Dennis Cokely, Hearing
  • Rosemary Diaz, Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Jack Hoza, Hearing
  • Nigel Howard, Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Joseph Hill, Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Kim Brown Kurtz, Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Cynthia Napier, Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • David Quinto Pozos, Hearing
  • Debra Russell, Hearing
  • Laurie Swabey, Hearing
  • Louise Tripoli, Deaf/Hard of Hearing

The results of the interviews were analyzed and used in preparation forPhase Two, conducting three online focus groups.  Each focus group wascomprised of individuals who identified as either interpreters, employers of interpreters, or Deaf consumers of interpreting services.  For the interpreters and employer groups, participants were selected primarily fromthe respondents of the Pre-JTA Survey but were supplemented by recommendations from the CC.  Using this master list, participants were invited to the groups based on their self-identification and scheduling availability.

For the Deaf consumer group, RID asked for the assistance of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD).  The NAD Board of Directors graciously offered some time during a Board meeting for this purpose.

Prior to the scheduled meetings, focus group participants completed a survey that was developed based on the results of the interviews.  The survey questions asked about specific skills and situations in which a newly certified NIC interpreter might find themselves and whether or not it was appropriate to expect competence of the interpreter in those circumstances. During the meetings, the facilitators used the survey results to steer the conversation toward points of disagreement.

For example, one set of questions asked how large a group of consumers an NIC interpreter, working alone, should be able to manage.  The hearing participants all agreed that one-on-one and groups up to five people were reasonable for an NIC interpreter but did not have consensus about larger groups.  Therefore, the facilitators sought to determine why there was disagreement and gathered additional information about this kind of setting.

The focus groups were made of up the following individuals:

  • Marian Lage Mahoney, Hearing Interpreter
  • Marisa Keane (Ruiz), Hearing Interpreter
  • Windy Rossi, Hearing Interpreter
  • James Wiggins, Hearing Interpreter
  • Anna Witter-Merithew, Hearing Interpreter
  • Sandie Busby, Hearing Employer of Interpreters
  • Emily Wallis, Hearing Employer of Interpreters
  • Joan Engelmann, Hearing Employer of Interpreters
  • Beth Brown, Hearing Employer of Interpreters
  • Teresa R. Moon Flaherty, Hearing Employer of Interpreters
  • Tamar Lani, Hearing Employer of Interpreters
  • Daniel Langholtz, Deaf consumer
  • NAD Board of Directors Focus Group
    • Joshua Beckman
    • Jenny Buechner
    • Michelle Cline
    • Sherri Collins
    • Melissa Draganac-Hawk
    • Steve Lovi
    • Richard McCowin
    • Philippe Montalette
    • Jerry Nelson
    • David O. Reynolds
    • Allie Rice
    • Howard Rosenblum
    • Elizabeth “Lizzie” Sorkin
    • Chris Wagner

Phase Three gathered a group of interpreters and consumers to comprise an Expert Practitioner Panel.  Like the focus groups, the panelists were selected from the Pre-JTA survey respondents.  Those who indicated a willingness to participate in an in-person meeting were then narrowed based on demographic information and availability.  The result was a group of 11 panelists that reflected the diversity of the community, including age, experience, gender, race, region, and other key demographics.

The panel met in Alexandria, VA, for two days in March 2015 and built upon the information gathered during the first two phases on this project.  Their task was to narrow down the possible Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) that a newly certified NIC interpreter may be asked to perform.  The in-person format allowed for a robust discussion and the participation of everyone on the panel.

The first step of their work was to agree on a definition of the newly certified NIC interpreter.  From there, they discussed what someone with this job description might be able to do.  Each concept was evaluated, discussed, and debated by the panel, until a general consensus was reached. The list of concepts and language that they developed was transferred directly to the survey.

The panelists who participated in this meeting were:

  • Leonardo Alvarez, Hearing Interpreter
  • Brayen Brown, Hearing Interpreter
  • Pamela Sue Conine, Hearing Interpreter
  • Kelly Decker, Hearing Interpreter
  • Abraham Dekat, Hearing Interpreter
  • Megan Johnson, Hearing Interpreter
  • Mary Mair, Hearing Interpreter
  • Kenya Rutherford, Hearing Interpreter
  • Stephanie Sforza, Deaf Interpreter
  • Judith Viera, Deaf Interpreter
  • Martin Yost, Hearing Interpreter

The panel’s work identified what could be necessary for a newly certified interpreter, but to find out what actually is needed on a national level, RID needed to conduct a validation survey.  The purpose of such a survey is
to gather data from across the country about what the expectations are of NIC interpreters.  This is the survey was that distributed on April 13, 2016.

In the analysis of this survey, we will know what KSAs are appropriate to evaluate on a national examination.  For example, we anticipate that there will be agreement across the country that “performing simultaneous interpreting” is something that is done frequently.  Therefore, we expect that this will be a key element on the exam as it will represent the spectrum of responses.

Other items are not as obvious, such as the frequency of working with spoken language interpreters.  Perhaps, in some areas of the country, working with spoken language interpreters is very common, while in other areas of the country it is very rare.  If that is the result of the survey, then working with a spoken language interpreter may not be a skill that should be required of NIC interpreters nationwide.  Therefore, it might not be appropriate to evaluate that skill on a national exam.

To date, more than 50 volunteers from the interpreter and Deaf communities have participated in the development of this survey.  In addition to that, thousands of individuals from across the country have already participated in the validation process.  But that doesn’t mean that we are stopping here. This survey will help us determine what to measure on our exams, but how these elements are measured is the next step of the process.  We anticipate that the exam development process will take at least 18 months to complete and will require the input of many more interpreters and consumers to serve on the development committees, as writers for questions and scripts and as
cut-score panelists.

It will take a village to develop these evaluations, but it is clear that the community is willing to provide the assistance that is required.  Thank you for your continued support of the next generation of RID assessments.