What can the Cued Speech community learn from this experience in regards to ensuring that consumers have a means of resolving issues with cued language services? What processes and safeguards do we have in place to ensure that service providers adhere to standards and conduct? In a nutshell, what are our options? At this point it's not clear and it really isn't anyone's fault, but rather a result of circumstances. We must then look at the current state of cued language transliterating as a profession and identify who are the key players that have a role in this profession.
The Key Players
TECUnit has served as the national certifying body for cued language transliterators for over two decades now. Currently operating out of Utah, the organization doesn't have the same resources as its sign language counterpart, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). TECUnit has its certification program which includes a cue-reading assessment, but isn't really in a position to host professional conferences where transliterators can gain credits for continued education as part of their certification maintenance. The organization has recently established new protocols for maintaining certification, so there has been some movement in the past few years.
A next step or area of focus that TECUnit should address is its transparency. It's not clear how TECUnit is operated or who is in charge, or whether there is any deaf representation on TECUnit's board. There are many questions that many different people have, but it is TECUnit's responsibility to answer all these basic questions in regards to organizational management and the certification management process. I encourage TECUnit to consider how they can improve their transparency and community engagement.
That doesn't mean there has been communication between key individuals within TECUnit and the National Cued Speech Association. Some dialogue has taken place over the past few years behind the scenes, however it's my sense that we need to open the conversation up and include the community on what issues are pertinent and how TECUnit and the NCSA plan to address them.
Speaking of the NCSA, The National Cued Speech Association has served as a national membership organization that serves to promote Cued Speech interests in a broad manner from federal legislation to scholarships and funding for Cued Speech programming such as cue camps and workshops. The main difference between both organizations is that TECUnit had a focused mission in terms of supporting the field of transliterating, while the NCSA has a broad mission of expanding Cued Speech's interest in different areas.
What about NCSA's culpability in the matter of cued language transliterating? Well, you've got to take into consideration that the NCSA has a lot on its radar and we did have success with the inclusion of cued language services in federal legislation. That certainly provided some impetus for a number of transliterators to pursue actual certification in order to meet standards put in place by either district or state-level educational agencies. The NCSA could do more, but should they be responsible for serving as a mediator or arbitrator in resolving complaints against CLTs? I don't think so. That's TECUnit's responsibility.
There is Language Matters, Inc (LMI), which serves to train and employ cued language transliterators and sign language interpreters. From time to time, LMI does play a role in helping place CLTs in an educational setting when there is a need for one. Beyond that, LMI offers workshops and administers the Cued Language Transliterator Professional Series (CLTPS), which offers undergraduate and graduate course credits for its training program. To this day, the CLTPS is the only formally accredited preparation program in the entire world for transliterators.
In my opinion, ideally every transliterator should go through the gauntlet of the CLTPS if they want to call themselves a "highly qualified" transliterator who has good marks on both expressive and receptive assessments and strong ethics. It's one thing to be certified, and another thing to be highly qualified.
Regardless of level of qualification, certified transliterators have a responsibility to adhere to the code of conduct they agree to as members of TECUnit. Any violation of that code of conduct needs to be addressed. The issue then is how do we go about addressing these violations. Each situation may be different, and the level of trust between the transliterator and the client may vary. In light of the different circumstances that occur in transliterating, it's important to help both consumers and the service providers be aware of what steps cuers should take to resolve any issues that arise.
Such a community agreement takes time to develop and requires the involvement of multiple parties. Therefore, it's important for the various organizations to collaborate together while including input from the community.
Let the conversation begin now.