Earl Fleetwood Named RID’s Director of Certification

By Tom Shull | Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), the national organization dedicated to establishing national standards for interpreters and transliterators who interpret between ASL and English, announced on April 29 that Earl Fleetwood will take over as its Director of Certification.

Fleetwood has worked as an interpreter for over 35 years. He has a master’s degree in ASL-English Interpretation from Gallaudet University where he has also served as adjunct faculty. He serves as co-editor of the series Studies in Interpretation from Gallaudet University Press.

Certification is a familiar subject for Fleetwood. Along with other pioneers in the field, he established standards for cued language transliterators and devised the national examination to certify practitioners.

 "My interest in standards of practice and related testing is rooted in the young deaf native cuers that my first transliterating jobs brought me before," Fleetwood says. "Thirty-five years ago, my colleagues and I thought that cueing real fast was all that we needed to do. From today's perspective that sentiment is, at the very least, a misrepresentation of power and influence. Transliterators are the most important link to the deaf child's right to know, to interact, to be a part of their living and dynamic classrooms, to be a classmate, a developmental product of the good and the bad and, ultimately their right to succeed or fail as their hearing peers, subject to the same systems, rules, expectations, and authorities. The purpose of standards and testing is not to create a professional challenge-reward system for the transliterator; it is to assure that life's challenge-reward system is available to deaf consumers.

As I move into my new role at RID, I bring with me the lessons of cued language transliteration. And I find solace and a certain familiarity in doing so as the worthwhile goals of yesterday can still be seen in those of tomorrow. In that regard, looking forward is a bit like looking back, evidence of which is captured in something Dr. Melanie Metzger and I wrote in our 1990 publication, Cued Speech Transliteration: Theory and Application: The hand that shares the world of thought at times does hold the key, To another's view of yesterdays and pondered times to be, But ideas conveyed by those hands are tainted lest they try, To display the world of naked truth upon the naked eye, So broaden the vast world of thought for those who do not hear, By caressing with your hands the truth of even things you fear, For in this way the key will turn and more minds will be free, To think of distant yesterdays and ponder times to be."

The announcement was made by RID Executive Director, Shane Feldman, in a video message on the organization website. [An English transcript is provided below the video.]