Thirty-Two sign language interpreters benefit from signing workshop

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Participants in the workshop pose for a group photo with the facilitators and PAO Stephen Weeks

Port of Spain March 18, 2015:Sign language interpreters from Trinidad and Tobago have benefited from the expertise of three U.S.-based sign language trainers.  The local interpreters, 17 hearing persons and 15 deaf, including five from Tobago, were selected by the Deaf Empowerment and Advancement Foundation (DEAF), an NGO based in Williamsville, south Trinidad for the five day workshop held at the School of Education, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus.

Through a US$10,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy, DEAF brought trainers Nichola Horrell Schmitz, Tara Potterveld and Dr. Cindy Volk of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), from the States to share their skills and help improve participants’ delivery of sign language and voice services to the Deaf, focusing on educational and legal interpreting.  The training was certified by the RID.  The skills acquired from the workshop will be shared through a mentorship program to be developed by DEAF.

Stephen Weeks, trainers Nichola Horrell Schmitz and Tara Potterveld and Ben Braithwaite of UWI.
Stephen Weeks, trainers Nichola Horrell Schmitz and Tara Potterveld and Ben Braithwaite of UWI.

Bryan Rodrigues, chairman of DEAF, said the workshop “introduced the idea of deaf interpreters working alongside hearing interpreters to improve clarity and make persons note the value of Sign Language to the Deaf community.”  He said although the training was intense, “it was made fun and exciting by the trainers.”  In their evaluations, the participants said the training was much appreciated and ought to be repeated.

“Disability rights is a priority for the U.S. government, and we are extremely happy to support this program as it exemplifies the partnership between the U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago on such an important issue,” said Public Affairs Officer Stephen Weeks in his remarks at the closing ceremony.  Participants also put on a skit showing the experience of a deaf person being pulled over by the police, which demonstrate the difficulty communicating with the deaf without using sign language or an interpreter.