inside the RID business meeting

If you didn’t attend the business meeting yesterday you missed:
covert communication typed into the meeting from the computer operator;
Mount Rushmore (four past RID Presidents);
regional and state rivalries;
a challenge to beat the Europeans in donations to WASLI, through RID’s “A Day’s Pay” program;
and customized (albiet unscripted) martini and fan service.
Perhaps other organizations have as much fun and intercollegiality as we do; but I’m not sure!
There was some drama concerning the now-delayed position paper (Standard Practice Paper) on Video Relay Interpreting and Video Relay Service.

Some of the concerns put forth by those opposed to putting out a position paper now seemed legitimate to me, however the Video Interpreting Committee had thought they responded to these concerns adequately by providing for an on-going updating process (the first in Standard Practice Paper (SPP) history). The committee was outmaneuvered in the Robert’s Rules debate and the costs of thier defeat will now become something we observe play out. Will it ultimately be to the detriment of the profession or not?
The institutional processes of governmental legislation and business profit-motivation have already completely swallowed the delivery system (VRS) into the rules of the FCC. According to the opposed group, one thing missing in the proposed document is a clear distinction between the VRS and the VRI. If I understand this correcly (and I’m just now learning) – the VRS is the technological end – the telecommunications aspect. VRI is the actual interpreting service, the part that we professional interpreters actually perform via the technology. The committee’s concern is that the on-going grind of institutional processes will now churn on without RID having any kind of legitimated entry at all to that process. We have no institutional point of entry.
The other point those opposed made that seemed compelling to me is to use the SPP not just to describe the current best practices, but to envision and map out the ideal of where we’d like to see field evolve and use the SPP as a point of leverage for that future. It strikes me now, in retrospect, that both groups have the same ultimate goal, but brought different understandings (fears, concerns?) to the process of deciding to take action now. There was a fear that whatever got put out now would become the definitive statement for an indefinite period of time (as has occurred previously) or that it would set precedent in ways that are actually undesirable (which has also occurred before). I think both groups shared concern for the future ramifications…those opposed may have been coming from a stance that was more critical based upon a view of RIDs internal history of mistakes, whereas those in support might have been coming from a stance in which they were looking more at factors external, where RID is simply one voice in a much larger process. I write “simply” only to indicate that that larger process continues with or without us; and at this point, it will continue without us.
This means the next step will need to include specific strategizing about the clarity of vision and prescriptions for the implementation of this vision, but also a specific marketing and lobbying strategy to create space for a now absent voice. Otherwise, it won’t matter much that we have a vision upon which we now agree because the institutional processes will have already sedimented to make us a minority and disempowered lone voice.
The way this gets taken up and acted upon now is going to matter quite a lot. You can read up on the process (including linking to the current draft) here.
An aside – Sharon Neumann-Solow won the President’s Award. She’s the one who told me after the workshop on Breaking Role in Chicago that I’d got folks “knickers in a twist.” I was assured that was actually a compliment. ;-/

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