The DC Voice had the pleasure of participating in an Internship and Career Fair several weeks ago at Gallaudet University. The experience was impressive for two reasons. First was the representation of major companies, organizations, and government agencies. The second was the tremendous energy and spirit from the students who stopped by The DC Voice booth. It was obvious four hours later that Gallaudet has a pool of talented, exuberant students in the heart of Ward 5.
The range of employers is an indication of the talent that sits so quietly on the 99-acre campus at 800 Florida Avenue, N.E. The Career Fair drew such names such as Starbucks, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Government Accountability Office, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Department of State, Federal Aviation Administration, USDA, JPMorgan Chase, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), National Security Agency, and a host of other prominent organizations.
Equally fascinating is the glue that connects these employers with this unique workforce; sign language interpreters. We\’re accustomed to seeing interpreters at events signing diligently while speakers drone on and on. That image was shattered Amber Galloway recently reached acclaim by keeping up with rapper Twista. Her ability to sign as fast as the rapper could rap went viral and made her a social media sensation. Hopefully, it also brought more attention to the vital services these specialists provide – bringing the spoken word to life for those deaf and hearing impaired.
M.J., my sign language interpreter for the event, was very informative and patient as well as I bombarded him with questions focusing on how these candidates integrate into the workplace. M.J. pointed to the accommodations employers make based on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). He spoke of services ranging from interpreters used on a scheduled as-needed basis, conferencing services, and in-house accommodations these employers implement to tap into this valuable resource.
A brief search uncovered such programs as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration\’s (NOAA) Sign Language Interpreting Services Program. Technology and Communication Solutions (TCS) is the contractor that provides sign language interpreting services for NOAA\’s Deaf and hard of hearing employees. Through TSC, NOAA provides:
- Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) which uses video or web cameras and telephone lines to provide sign language interpreting services for Deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired individuals, through an offsite interpreter to communicate with hearing persons
- Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART) services also called open captioning, which is a system that converts speech to text
- On-site interpreter services during official work hour
Any employer that overlooks this valuable resource is missing an opportunity to bring diversity to their workforce and enriching it with some exuberant young talent. Although the ambient sound was a lot quieter than most job fairs, the support from the employers that attended this event and the energy of these candidates spoke loud enough.