Tampa "Fake Interpreter" Updates: Deaf Mother Was Not There, Tampa Police Spokesperson Apologizes; Interview with Florida Association of the Deaf, Inc. President Lisa Rose about Interpreting Issues; Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. Partners with Mozzeria in "Social Venture Fund" to Expand Franchises
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! I have three Deaf news stories to share with you today. Ready?
Here are some more updates with the “fake interpreter” for the Tampa Police press conference on November 28.
There were some news reports and people who thought she was there to interpret for Olga Lavandeira, the Deaf mother of one of the four victims of the Tampa murders (Monica Hoffa).
I reached out to her to confirm if she was there or not that night, as she is from Georgia. She said she was not there that night — she was on her way to Florida after she was informed that police had made the arrest of the suspected killer, Howell Donaldson III. Olga said she doesn’t know the interpreter is at all.
So it’s still a mystery on why the “interpreter” — Derlyn Roberts — was there that night.
I had reached out to a spokesperson for the Tampa Police department and the one who arranged the late night press conference — Stephen Hegarty — on what happened.
Stephen said the city of Tampa has a contract with Purple Communications for interpreting services. He said they vet the interpreters and that they have always done a great job for them.
Stephen said for that evening press conference, neither he nor any staff at the police department called or requested for an interpreter for that night, and nobody on the staff had directly contacted Derlyn.
In an article in the Miami Herald, Stephen (the same person) said when the press conference was about to start, he was told that there was an interpreter. His reaction was that they didn’t call an interpreter, but he thought that it was great there was one.
I’ve confirmed with Purple that Derlyn doesn’t work for them, she is not a Purple interpreter.
Stephen said Derlyn did not request for payment for interpreting services, and that Tampa Police did not pay her for that night.
Stephen said if he had known she was not qualified or not from Purple, he would not have allowed her to be involved. He said he doesn’t know why or how she showed up that night — and that he has tried to reach out to her since then, but have been unable to do so.
He said he has apologized to people and accepted responsibility for not asking enough questions, for not following their process to hire qualified interpreters. He said he did a disservice to the deaf community.
On the next day (November 29), there was another press conference, this time with Purple interpreters, who appeared to be professional and qualified.
Tampa Police said they will continue to work with Purple and that they will be careful to not allow anyone who is not from that organization to interpret for them.
Here is an interview with Lisa Rose, president of the Florida Association of the Deaf. She was recently elected and will discuss the Tampa police “fake interpreter” and issues in the state of Florida.
Lisa: Hello! I'm Lisa Rose. I was just elected FAD president, as of last month.
Alex: Can you tell us what are FAD’s viewpoints and position on the “fake interpreter” incident on November 28?
Lisa: Before I talk about this, the FAD Board wants to express our thoughts and condolences to Olga, who’s daughter, Monica Hoffa, was shot. We are touched for her. Not only this, she was hit with a “double whammy” — because she not only lost her daughter to a serial killer, but when there was big news of the killer’s arrest, the mother must have been tuning in to the news only to see an unqualified interpreter. This is sad.
On behalf of the FAD, our position is that… this incident was a public one with many people noticing it. There is actually much more of this going on, behind closed doors. What I mean by this is at schools, at doctor’s office, it does happen and it’s frustrating.
Here is one example: a mother said she went to a school where her son attended and waited for an interpreter who showed up 45 minutes late, and the person was a lousy interpreter. So they had to reschedule. Another example is an arrest of a deaf person — at the jail, there was no interpreters, they had to communicate via pen and paper, which could lead to misunderstandings. The deaf person was released, but later arrested again — due to misunderstandings.
This is something serious. Now on the issue of qualifications and certifications, note that school teachers have to complete degrees and pass certificates to work. The same goes with nail salon staff, they have to be licensed. But for interpreters, there are no requirements for licensure. This makes it easy for them to fall through the cracks. In the past, the FAD Board has worked to present a bill to legislature, but it has not succeeded in passing. Now it is up to us to try again and make it pass, not just in educational settings, but for all settings.
There are 300,000 Deaf, DeafBlind, those with hearing loss in the state, which is the third largest population in the U.S. It is a big burden on FAD Board to make sure every need is met.
Alex: This isn’t the first time this happened in Florida — in fact during Hurricane Maria, there was another unqualified interpreter for a press conference. Your thoughts on that?
Lisa: The recent “unqualified interpreter” incident in Manatee County with the lifeguard wearing a bright yellow shirt and attempting to sign — this was during a serious hurricane and people were worried, and there’s this barrier to accessibility. Now we have the police department incident. So it is two “black eyes” — we were really impacted. I look at this a good problem. It supports our struggle to recognize the issues behind closed doors. And there are many more stories I’ve gotten — this needs to be brought to state legislation to show there is a serious issue with interpreting. I’m optimistic that with the two major incidents and the many personal stories, it will “hit home” and make it happen.
Alex: What will FAD be doing in the future to address this, how can the community support you in this?
Lisa: Life -- it’s short for “Learn It From Experience.” I want you all to think, “We have to help each other.” It can’t be just on the Board, everybody, you community members, needs to pitch in. When everyone’s invovled and we push for change, we will find success.
Now that I’m president, people have approached me with different stories of negative experiences with interpreting on all different levels, from college graduates to those who dropped out of high school and have some struggles with education — the latter group is what I’m the most touched by, because they are often victimized by interpreters who oppress them and make decisions for them. That is unacceptable.
Not only that, interpreting agencies need to take accountability. There are some agencies that send unqualified interpreters to work. This is without integrity — they are thinking of their own business interests, to make money. This is an issue in Florida. We need to watch this and be supportive of those who feel they can’t do anything. Imagine if there was a surgery and something went wrong due to misinformation — the patient’s health would be harmed. It is very important to have qualified interpreters that can communicate in a way that everybody can understand.
Alex: Thank you for your time, Lisa. She was very clear that there are many more issues in the state, far beyond the two major incidents. Best of luck to her and deaf people in Florida to push for better legislation to protect deaf people’s rights to access.
Deaf-owned pizza restaurant Mozzeria, based in San Francisco, won an “Social Venture Fund” investment from Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) — with a major goal to expand the restaurant with franchises across the U.S.
CSD made the announcement yesterday with a video on their Facebook page and on their website. It featured their CEO Chris Soukup and the owners of Mozzeria, Melody and Russ Stein.
A press release said CSD created a multi-million fund this year to incubate Deaf-owned businesses in the U.S. to address the high percentage of unemployment or underemployment rate in the deaf community — 70%.
I reached out to both CSD and Mozzeria for comments. Let’s start with CSD — here are statements from Brandi Rarus, their Vice President for Public Relations, Engagement, and Policy.
— [Begin Interview]
Alex: Why did CSD pick Mozzeria out of the 50 applicants?
Brandi: Hello, before I talk about why CSD picked Mozzeria out of the other applicants, I think it’s important to talk about why CSD started this CSD SVF initiative. CSD’s role has been to observe the community and identify various issues and challenges, and address those challenges. One thing that we all can “agree on” is that there is a continuing challenge with misconceptions and perceptions on deaf people, on what a deaf person is. Maybe it’s that deaf people “can’t,” is “unqualified,” or somehow “less than.” That we don’t contribute or don’t have value. And how do we as a community address those misconceptions? By being successful, showing our successes, and spotlighting our success. A big part of that is in employment, by going to work, by contributing to the labor force. We are showing our successes, and we can contribute to changing perceptions of us.
So, establishing the CSD SVF, we want to give business owners an opportunity to present their business plans. We know that (deaf) business owners typically hire deaf people, as this has happened in the past. So when we looked at various people, Mozzeria was a very clear, shining example of success. They are a very successful restaurant in California, they have a food truck/trolley, catering, I mean, wow, they’re a very well-run team. So there is tremendous opportunity to make a big impact with them. We can take their training expertise and knowledge and put it into an ASL training center to start a program so if there are deaf people who are curious of how to become a restaurant owner, they can be trained via ASL.
Alex: Can you tell us more about the financial investment and the resources that you are providing to Mozzeria?
Brandi: Our investment — the amount of the investment — we can’t really disclose that, but it will be used to support the implementation of the franchise. We will be making more announcements in the near future. This is not the only one, we have two more, we will announce it soon.
Alex: What is the expected timeframe -- when will see franchises set up?
Brandi: As for the timeline, we are still exploring things, there are a lot of things to discuss, a lot of moving parts to put together. So if you want more information, please go to either the Mozzeria website or csdsvf.org. There, you’ll see information about Mozzeria franchise and you can sign up to get updates when we are ready.
Alex: Thank you for your time, Brandi. Now let’s go to Melody and Russ Stein of Mozzeria.
Melody and Russ: Hello! Hi!
Alex: Congratulations on your selection and getting the investment from CSD! Can you tell us why you felt like this was a good opportunity for Mozzeria?
Melody: I think this is a great opportunity for our deaf community. With the restaurant we founded here in San Francisco, we often have customers who are amazed at the all-deaf team and the full communication access. They say they wish they had it in other places. They say why don’t we start a restaurant in other cities. We get this request all the time. We would love to, but our resources were limited at the time. Now that there is a CSD SVF opportunity, it was the perfect time to take advantage of that and move forward, and we are excited to announce them as our partner.
Russ: Yes, one thing to add — this partnership is not just about money, but it is about developing resources. It’s been just us and our small team for all this time, but now with CSD — they have a legal team, they have a CPA, it will help us more, and we look forward to growth in those areas.
Alex: It’s a big vision, to have franchises across the U.S. How do you visualize this happening, how does this work with having restaurants in other places? Any ideas or hints on potential cities?
Melody: Yes, it is a big vision. I’m excited for all the communities. Now you’re curious on how and where the franchises will be. We and the franchise team will get together and develop timelines, budgets… All this information will be shared on www.mozzeria.com/franchise. We will update you.
Russ: This takes time. But… you’re curious of where… We are curious, too! It is dependent on how motivated people are. One thing is for sure, it has to be a big deaf community. Starting one in a small community is not ideal, a big one is needed to ensure attendance, jobs, and many other things. This would make sense. I’m looking forward to seeing who’s the first one, right?
Alex: What kind of impact on the deaf community do you visualize with this partnership and with franchises across the U.S.?
Russ: What kind of impact? Wow… it could be real big. Because 70% of the deaf community is either unemployed or underemployed — they don’t earn enough to meet their needs. There are some who have good degrees but can’t find a job. So this will create good opportunities, more growth. We can talk more about economics. For a long time we never had economic power. I want to see more economic power so we can make decisions and make a difference in the U.S. Not just the deaf community, but to have an impact on hearing communities as well.
Melody: Yes, and also to see the numbers of Deaf-owned businesses grow as well.
Alex: Do you want to add anything?
Melody: Yes, I want to thank our staff, our team, our supporters who have been there for us since day one. It’s amazing and if it was not for you all, we wouldn’t be here. I want to really thank you all.
Russ: Yes, that applies to all the people all this time, not just now. We also want to thank the community. Those who from day one who came to our restaurant, those who support by either “Liking” our Facebook page, or made comments, or share — please continue to do so. The more support, the more possibilities. If not for you, this wouldn’t be possible. Thank you.
Melody: Yes, thank you.
Nice, thank you your time. Exciting. Maybe there will be a Mozzeria restaurant in your town, maybe you can start one or work there. Congratulations to them, Mozzeria and CSD.
CSD has said that Mozzeria is the first choice, but there will be another picks (for partnerships) in the next few weeks, and there will be a second round next year. Various businesses can still submit proposals for another opportunity to partner with them.
Announcement Video: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsCSD/videos/10155907936826465/
More info: www.CSDSVF.com or mozzeria.com/franchise
Press Release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb14988894.htm
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