Local interpreters for the deaf form TTAID | The Trinidad Guardian Although hearing impairment is not a disability that can easily be detected, there is sometimes no limit to the onslaught of discrimination against one so inflicted, especially when it comes to finding employment. And according to President of the T&T Association of Interpreters for the Deaf (TTAID) Carl Herrera, one of the roles of the TTAID is to advocate on behalf of deaf persons who have been sidelined for employment as a result of their disability, as well as in other discriminatory situations. “TTAID is all about closing the gap between the hearing and the hearing impaired in Trinidad and Tobago, to ensure the deaf have equal opportunities to enjoy life,” he said. Certification drive The association was launched on December 7 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, with a mission to evaluate and certify local interpreters. He said the move to form TTAID stemmed from the massive protest outside the National Flour Mills by disabled persons in 2003. “Before the protest, disabled groups, including the hearing impaired, got together and started to agitate.” He said this prompted the Ministry of Social Development to contract the services of interpreters to give some assistance to the hearing impaired. In 2007, Gayelle the Channel introduced signing during its newscast. “But this too posed some problems in terms of facilities for the interpreters,” he said. Herrera said this was when the interpreters moved to form an association complete with by-laws and a constitution. “We want to be treated like professionals because our responsibility as interpreters of getting the message across is important. We want to see this become a profession and not just something on the side.” He said another key reason for wanting interpreters to be certified was to avoid having their contributions during court proceedings challenged due to lack of certification documents. “We don’t want attorneys using this to get their clients off on a technicality—and you know they will use it,” he said. Getting the message across Although it may seem like a simple task, Herrera said, quality signing entails numerous challenges. “There are two types of interpreters. Hearing interpreters who sign to voice and vice versa, and deaf interpreters who work with persons with minimum language skills or from a region of the country where the signs are slightly different. “One of the major challenges is to move from hearing language to a visual demonstration where you have to get emotions and body language across. And getting it right is important because you don’t want either the hearing or deaf person to get the wrong message.” Now that TTAID was a registered organisation, Herrera said the next step is to create a registry of interpreters so people in need of their services can have easy access to them. “We want to put things in place to facilitate the public. So, for instance, (if) someone needs an interpreter for whatever reason, they can easily go online and access our registry and find the one,” he said. Herrera said interpreters interested in becoming a part of TTAID’s vision could visit the Web site at firstname.lastname@example.org or email email@example.com.