As a hearing person, I tend to take access to information for granted. The world I live in is an audio-centric world; everything is created to cater to our hearing needs. As hearing people we don't even think twice about needing an interpreter to understand a doctor, a judge, a police officer, a teacher, a state-wide emergency and so on. However, people in the Deaf community here in Mexico have faced and will face many obstacles to get the most common information available to the hearing. This eventually has lead me to one of my passions, which is interpreting. The image above is a common sight for me as a sign language interpreter; the empty platform evokes two feelings within me.
First of all, the empty platform is symbolic of the lack of interpreters here in the country of Mexico. Several years ago, there was an official nationally recognized body that regulated, evaluated and certified aspiring Mexican Sign Language interpreters. This body certified a little over 40 LSM interpreters for all of Mexico in their first round of certification. However, a new Mexican president was sworn in, which has always lead to new leaders in every government agency and resources were allocated to other things. Political rivalry ensued within the the official body itself that eventually lead to its demise, and since then it has never been created again. Each state was left to itself to somehow train interpreters. Deaf associations are many times left out of this process, and hearing interpreters would take it upon themselves to train future interpreters. Leaving the Deaf community on the wayside in this process is audist, disrespectful and ignores the fact that sign language belongs to the Deaf community, and they should have a say in who is qualified to interpret and who is not.
The second emotion this image evokes in me is the nervousness I feel moments before I get up to interpret. I grew up with ASL as one of my first languages, and then in 2008 I dove into the world of LSM (Mexican Sign Language), Deaf culture, and the world of professional interpreters here in Mexico. In 2013, I met one of the two nationally certified interpreters in Ensenada. Naturally, in a city with thousands of Deaf people, they were stretched thin and overwhelmed. One of the interpreters, Rosalba Garcia, took me in as an intern, and she instilled in the the important task of maintaining a good relationship with the local Deaf association in Ensenada. The trust between the Deaf community and a sign language interpreter is very delicate and important. The only way that trust is forged is by being transparent, by forming relationships with the Deaf, and by honoring the local Deaf association in matters that involved the Deaf and LSM. As an interpreter I am not merely just bridging two languages on that platform, I am tasked with the honor of bridging two cultures with all of its nuances and subtleties that they each carry. It is a constant process of learning, unlearning, being corrected in humility, and growing in this beautiful language that belongs to the Deaf.
-Lucas N. Everett
Please watch this video for a fuller understanding on Deaf culture and the importance of access to information in sign language!
One of our core values as WBFG is Fighting for Equal Access, which can look like participating in a church conference to understanding a first aid course. However, 90% of the time the interpreter will not be paid or they are paid very little. Many times the Deaf themselves will have to pay for an interpreter to be able to file a complaint with the police, understand a doctor, or even have access to the gospel. This can be financially straining on a community that already struggles with job discrimination and low-wage jobs. As WBFG, our goal is to raise funds specifically to pay a full time interpreter to be able to travel and interpret for the Deaf when needed.
Our goal is to raise $600 a month to support Lucas Everett to be able to offer interpreting services free of charge for the Deaf community in Ensenada and surrounding towns.
If you have any questions or you want to help with this area, please contact Lucas Everett.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions. Your generous donation will fund our mission. Write in the memo line "Interpreting Services".