The Daily Moth visits Street Leverage 2019 with Convo

Hello, I’m at the hotel where Street Leverage 2019 conference is being held at in Austin- Round Rock. I’ll go in and do a couple of interviews with different people. Come along.


That’s staying with the light!

[Clip changes into the hotel lobby with booths]

Alex: I’m here with you at Street Leverage 2019 in Austin - Round Rock.

Leila: Hi, I’m Leila Hanaumi and I work with Convo Communications as Director of Brand Communications. I want to thank you all for being here with us today. This is a special feature during this conference where Convo asked The Daily Moth to be here and interview the founder of Street Leverage, Brandon Arthur. I want to elaborate on the purpose of having a platform like this. You know the term “Deaf Ecosystem”, the concept of Deaf Ecosystem is truly important to us, Convo, as Deaf owned VRS. At Convo, we are in a unique place where Deaf people and interpreters have strong partnership every day in one “house”. That alone creates unique conversations and dialogue on different perspectives on what the Deaf community really needs and what it means to support the Deaf community. The concept of Deaf Ecosystem has started to emerge we have recognized the need to understand how the Deaf community become ecosystem requires a look at our economic power. Economy, specifically money and resources. Now I look at Street Leverage as an organization that really supports that same concept. For example, this conference. They knew they have a platform and have people come into town for the conference and they utilized the opportunity to give back to TSD (Texas School for the Deaf) through hosting a cleaning day and a fundraiser for TSD. It is actually proof of the action of financial investment to the Deaf community. So, that is really admirable and Convo is truly proud to be a sponsor for Street Leverage conference. Plus, the other example of the Deaf Ecosystem is how Convo supports The Daily Moth and use that opportunity to partner up and come to this conference. Using his platform to spread information, thoughts, and discussions to inspire the community. So, I thank you (Alex) for being here today and I would love to welcome Brandon Arthur onto the stage with us.

[Clip changes to Brandon and Alex on stage]

Alex: You founded Street Leverage in 2011. Eight years ago. Can you share a little about the origins of Street Leverage?

Brandon: Well, really many things but I worked on as you mentioned in establishing an agency. As I went on, it went on to merge with a VRS company. I saw all in the field along with the community changing. Before -- well I’m older now -- but before, when you faced struggles and challenges you could sit down with agency owners. We had access to people who made decisions. Changes shifted this field with bigger companies coming into the picture in the interpreting field. We did not have access nor did the Deaf community to the people who made decisions (in the industry). Where do we go to talk about the challenges, where do you go to gather and try to solve the challenges, and move forward to prepare for the future? So, I started a blog, as simple as that, and started distributing. Before I knew it, it grew and people got excited about the opportunity to discuss. People asked if we could make it a fun event where we could come together and talk about the topics in person. Starting off, I had no clue how but I went with it, and it progressed to where it is today. So, it really started with the idea of trying to continue our ownership and accountability of our work and its process.

Alex: What is your perspective on how interpreters should give back to the Deaf Ecosystem? That concept is not limited to many Deaf Business owners, like myself (TDM), who is growing out there, but Street Leverage is part of Deaf Ecosystem also.

Brandon: If we love what we do and we love the community and value them -- then how we display that should seem appropriate. I think the interpreters and the people connected to the field of interpreting has a responsibility to display the values in a meaningful way. It’s not just about “Oh, I’ll go to the event,” or “I’ll say something on social media,” or something like that. Those two don’t really have an actual impact on lives. So it’s more than just giving, attending….

To be honest, with the exception of one, we always paid people who are Deaf-owned when it comes with Street Leverage. Honestly, all hearing people involved with Street Leverage are volunteers. Most Deaf people who come and contribute to this event get paid. That’s just part of our commitment to acknowledge that we are not as equal. People out there confuse the statement of “language access” to equality. That’s not real. So, we have a responsibility to do more. I think we have a bigger role, as interpreters should make an effort to attend and support Deaf business and help the growth. That will create more growth and so on.

Alex: Street Leverage did recognize Interpreter Appreciation Day. This week had some controversy with hot discussions on social media by different people. Some feel we should not celebrate Interpreter Appreciation Day but instead, interpreters should appreciate me as in Deaf people. The other side had a view that interpreters do a lot for us (Deaf people) and deserved the day. What is your take?

Brandon: First, it’s definitely important that we recognize that all interpreters are born due to Deaf people. Simple. ALL. We definitely have the responsibility to recognize those who support the furthering of the field. I think the challenge is, not because I do not understand you (Deaf), but because the community often does not recognize the field and ignore them. Because they are not recognized, Interpreter Appreciation Day is not appreciated by some. It is because of our… failure, to be honest, as a community. We fail to recognize the people who make it possible. That is offensive to let it continue. I do wonder if there is an ability to solve all of the hurt and some of those challenges. So, for me, it’s a lesson to learn from. Do we stop recognizing interpreters and their work, and repair? We probably should. But at the same time, I have been thinking after I got to read some input about Street Leverage and our IAD campaign. It is a sad reality but I do think it is necessary to recognize the important work the interpreters do but again there is a missed opportunity to spotlight over there (deaf community).

[Clip changes to Alex with Aaron]

Alex: I’m with Aaron Brace. Where are you from?

Aaron: I live in San Francisco, California but I grew up in Maryland.

Alex: He is one of the keynote presenters for Street Leverage conference. Can you tell us more about your presentation topic?

Aaron: Sure. Street Leverage is known for analyzing and unpacking the interpreter underneath the persona and the field itself. I focus on the makings of the persona and what it really looks like. All interpreters have a mental vision of who they are as an interpreter but that is usually in the subconsciousness. I feel we have to place that in the forefront so we can analyze critically those makings of the persona to help interpreters improve their work.

Alex: I’m here with Sarah Wheeler. Can you tell us where you are from?

Sarah: I’m from Greensboro, North Carolina.

Alex: She is one of the main presenters here. Your topic is on emotional intelligence and can you tell me more about that topic?

Sarah: First, I have to ask how you feel?

Alex: How do I feel? I feel at home!

Sarah: Ok, good!

Alex: How do you feel?

Sarah: Good. I feel a bit nervous but good.

Alex: Nervous? Aha.

Sarah: Yes.

Alex: Is that E.I?

Sarah: Yes, and why is it important? We need to talk about that relationship. Interpreting does not happen with one person. We have to interpret with other people. We have to connect with one another. Also, there is often a team interpreter you need to work with as well. We have to know how to connect and understand yourself among other people and there is a lack of that. That is why I researched on emotional intelligence and on why it is important in interpreting. Plus, each time one interprets, we need to be able to facilitate expressions along with feelings to ensure communication flow is translated correctly. That ensures that both people you are interpreting for does feel connected as well.

Alex: I’m here with Charity Reedy Warigon. So, you are here for SL conference. Can you tell us what you have gained from this conference?

Charity: Really, wow. This is my first Street Leverage conference and I was blown away. The depth of topics and the discussions. You know, you may have seen on Facebook: Real People. This is the REAL STUFF. People here really get into the depth of topics, and it is not superficial at all. It really benefits to talk about real topics that you can bring back to the headquarters and see how we can frame who our customers are, who we will serve and how we will bring the communities we need together: interpreters and the deaf.

Alex: Now, you lead RID in this time of transition. What has your experience been like since you took the reins as interim CEO?

Charity: It has been very positive. Well. First of all, I always see the good thing out of anything. Whether it is good or bad. I do see some things that are transitioning that are coming that are good. We have a new board coming onboard and they have asked me to assist throughout the transition with the search of a new CEO. Among those things, there is one important thing that I cannot dismiss nor overlook is that what we will do to bring diversity and inclusion within RID. That is a really critical topic that shows up a lot here at Street Leverage. That ultimately is what I will deliver back to RID and ensure diversity and inclusion includes Deaf, DeafBlind among many more. Not limited to just Deaf but people of color, and include them. Reminding us what we can do to bring all communities together.

Alex: That’s the conference! I have shown you just a glimpse of different things throughout Street Leverage through my interviews. There is more in-depth with a variety of topics and presenters with Street Leverage. If you are curious and want more information, do check out.