Defenders of Certification: Sign Language Interpreters Question “Enhanced” RID NIC Test

Sign Language Interpreters - Defenders of CertificationAt this point in our history, the NIC assessment is the foundation for determining who is “one of us” and, as such, certified members of RID should be the defenders of the certification process. However, the fact that certified RID members are unsure of the validity of the current NIC assessment is unacceptable. I believe that the NIC Task Force and the Board of Directors have implemented changes to the RID assessment process the validity of which has not all been transparent to the certified membership. And so, instead of being defenders of the process, we find ourselves in the position of questioning, challenging and/or belittling the recent RID assessments procedures.

My Letter

On March 18,2012, I sent an email letter to each member of the RID Board of Directors in which I raised a number of questions regarding the new “enhancements” to the NIC test. That letter is reprinted below.

Before reading the letter, it is important to me that you understand the spirit in which that letter was sent.

My intent in sending the letter was neither to create or enflame divisiveness within RID nor was it to attack the current leadership of the RID. Rather it was a request that the Board provide the information necessary so that the RID membership, especially the certified membership, could feel confident and secure in the knowledge that the “enhanced NIC” was indeed valid and reliable; information that was not made available for the previous iteration of the NIC.

Until the day when RID (and we are RID) has a transparently valid and reliable certification process that determines who will be “one of us”, we will always have division and animus (parenthetically, I believe this can only be avoided if we, RID, decide to divest ourselves of the assessment process). My letter was sent to the Board requesting that all the information and documentation that provided the psychometric basis for the “enhanced NIC” be made available to all of the members. The Board has committed to releasing a report that would address the questions I raised.

RID Response

On April 22 I received an email from the RID President that stated, in part: “…the board of directors and national office staff agree the comprehensive report would be shared with the entire membership.  Therefore, this will take some time and resources to complete and request your patience and continued support to allow us the time to complete this comprehensive report. In fact, the work has been underway since the receipt of your letter.”

To be sure, it is unclear to me why the answers to the questions I raised should “…take some time and resources to complete.” After all the questions I raise are the essential questions one must ask and the evidence one must have in advance of implementing such a radically new assessment approach. The information should be readily available; if it has to be created in response to the questions I raise, there are even more serious questions about the process by which this iteration of the NIC was developed and implemented. Nevertheless, I applaud the fact that the RID Board will share full information regarding the new NIC with the membership. Hopefully that report will be issued in a timely manner and, in my opinion, it certainly must happen in advance of the regional conferences.

Reactions — Keep Them in Check

Given all of this, I trust you will read the following letter in the spirit in which it was intended. I sincerely hope that any reaction you may have will be held in check until we all receive the “comprehensive report” from the Board. I believe that any action prior to receipt of the “comprehensive report” would be premature and uniformed.

Letter Reprint

Members of the Board of Directors
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

333 Commerce Street
Alexandria, VA 22314 

March 18, 2012

To Members of the Board,

I am writing this letter to the Board, one of the very few I have written since 1972, as a concerned and dedicated member of RID for over forty years and as a Past President of RID. Specifically, I am extremely concerned about the new “enhancements” to the NIC test. I think it goes without saying that the last iteration of the NIC was significantly flawed. Claiming, as we did, (lacking both the sophistication and the empirical data) that a three-tiered certification based on a single evaluation test was valid and defensible, was clearly shown to be a serious mistake (one which we made earlier in our first effort at testing – CI/CT/CSC). With this latest unsubstantiated testing attempt, not only did we damage the credibility of the NIC and the RID itself in the minds of many RID members but perhaps more importantly in the minds of many Deaf people. Both interpreters and Deaf people saw that the test results and tiered certifications awarded often did not match the reality experienced by the “eyes on the street”.

I believe that the lesson that must be learned here is clear — we should definitely not advance an approach to testing that is not directly supported by empirical data on sign language interpretation and that we must make that empirical data clearly and widely known to interpreters and Deaf people.

Make no mistake, I applaud some of the changes to the NIC, specifically uploading a candidate’s video data to a secure server and having those video data available to be viewed by multiple raters. Unfortunately I believe we have made the same fatal mistake – lack of empirical data – with the newest iteration of the NIC as we made with the last iteration and as we made in 1972. Unless there is evidence that has not been made publically available, I believe that the current NIC testing approach lacks face validity — it does not look like what interpreters regularly do. Perhaps better stated, I believe the current test cannot claim to validly certify a candidate’s ability to interpret in a way that reflects real world practice. Certainly there is nothing in the research literature relevant to sign language interpreters of which I am aware that would support the current testing approach. I make the following statements and raise the following questions and concerns based on the new Candidate Handbook 2011 and on conversations with several candidates who have taken the current NIC.

1. It appears that someone predetermined that the test should last only an hour and then the resultant math determined that each of the two ethical and five performance scenarios would last only 4 minutes. If true, RID members need a more thorough explanation of why time and a simple mathematical formula should be the primary drivers behind the format of the certification test; if this is not true, then a clear explanation should be provided for how the current 4-minute per vignette test segmentation was determined.

2. I agree that that it may be possible to make a marginally valid, albeit shallow, determination of one’s approach to ethical decision-making and one’s knowledge of the Code of Professional Conduct from two 4-minute vignettes. However, one would hope that the vignettes are sufficiently complex that they will elicit higher levels of ethical thinking than mere regurgitation of the Code of Professional Conduct. A description of the guiding principles used to develop and/or select the ethical vignettes must be provided to the RID membership. Note I am not asking for the rating rubrics (I agree that teaching to the rubrics was a significant issue in the last iteration), I am simply asking that an explanation for the process/principles used in the selection of and/or development of the vignettes be made known to the membership.

3. I am aware of no research that provides evidence that a 4-minute sample of a piece of interpretation is sufficient to make a determination of overall interpretation competence. What the research does show is that during the first five minutes of a twenty minute monologue an interpreter’s work is often “less challenging” because it is the most predictable – introductions, niceties, setting an overall tone for a talk or meeting, etc. This is also true of the last five minutes of an interpreter’s work – summaries, next steps, closings, etc. Consequently, if all of the five performance vignettes were from the first five minutes of interactions, we would only be sampling and rating the “less challenging” parts of interactions and thus would not be presented with a true and valid representative sample of a candidate’s overall interpreting proficiency. I might agree that if we had five 20-minute samples of an interpreter’s work and we wished to select 4-minute samples from each 20-minute sample (some from the beginning, some from the middle and some from the end) then perhaps we might have a more thorough and more time efficient way of rating an interpreter’s work. But what we have here with the current NIC is clearly not 4-minute samples from longer samples of work. A full explanation of the empirical justification for this 4-minute sampling approach must be provided to the membership.

4. According to the Candidate Handbook, however, some of the vignettes will require that the candidate begin interpreting in the middle portions of interactions after providing the candidate with only a written synopsis of what has transpired up to that point in the interaction. Here again, I contend there is no empirical data that can justify this as a valid approach to obtaining a true and valid sample of a candidate’s overall interpreting competence. As any experienced interpreter knows, by the mid-point of any interpreted interaction the interpreter has developed some content background information (which I presume the NIC proposes to present in printed form). But more importantly the interpreter has a sense of communicative preferences, interactional rhythm, signing style, accents, spoken/signing speeds, prosodic features, etc. None of this can be presented in printed form in any manner that assists the candidate nor can it be presented in a manner that validly replicates what happens in real life.

On this basis alone, I would contend that this 4-minute assessment approach does not provide the essential cognitive, discourse or linguistic tools/knowledge that are available and that unfold in “real life” situations. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, by the halfway point in any interaction the interpreter has acquired an “interactional schema”. As any experienced interpreter knows, this relates directly to critical areas such as over-arching goals, what counts as success and the overall interactional rhythm and flow. Absolutely none of this is accessible to a candidate suddenly instructed to begin in the middle of an interaction for which only written background content information has been provided. Of necessity, the written background will be about content, but none of this is what is most important to interpreters. A clear explanation of the rationale and justification for placing candidates at such an interpreting disadvantage must be provided to the membership.

5) Given that each performance vignette provides only 4 minutes of a candidate’s work, it would appear that we, as an organization, are no longer concerned about the ability to sustain quality of work during an interpreted interaction. For the past forty years the RID evaluations have contained interactions (monologues and/or dialogues) that have lasted 15-20 minutes in length. This was essentially due to the fact that this most closely reflected the real world work and experience of interpreters and then raters could sample within interactions, not across what are essentially 4-minute, flawed interactions. A detailed explanation of the rational for, and empirical support for this decision and this deviation from forty years experience is also needed by the membership.

6. Given that each performance vignette provides only 4 minutes of a candidate’s work, it would appear that we, as an organization, are no longer interested in the ability to produce work of sustained quality over time. Clearly, a 4-minute text simply does not allow time for the candidate to demonstrate or time for the rater to assess meaning sustained over time. The rater has no opportunity to assess features such as consistent use of grammatical features (manual and non-manual), consistent use of space, consistent use of deitic markers, etc. Simply put, a 4-minute sample simply does not provide sufficient opportunity to demonstrate a candidate’s ability to sustain quality work over time. If there is evidence that supports the claim that a 4-miute sample can validly and reliably assess a candidate’s ability to assess sustained quality over time, then it must be made known to the membership.

7. With a 4-miute segment to assess, the question must be asked “What are the raters looking for?”. It is clear that there is a new rating paradigm (pass/marginal pass, fail/marginal fail) and one could make a solid case for this. Certainly raters for the signed portions should be looking for grammatical features such as agreement, consistent use of “nonce signs” (signs established for this situation only), the use of coordinated and reflexive space, etc. But it is unclear what raters would be asked to assess in a 4-minute sample of work. Certainly raters are unable to assess the full range of linguistic competencies that interpreters must posses in order to able to interpret (if there evidence to support this it must be made public).  What are the various English and ASL grammatical and semantic features in vignettes that raters will be assessing and do these five 4-minute vignettes provide sufficient linguistics and discourse variation to elicit an appropriate range of English and ASL grammatical and semantic features?

8. As was true with the last iteration of the NIC we offer the candidate no opportunity to demonstrate the exercise of discretion. This clearly begs the question of whether there is any research that demonstrates that the five performance vignettes somehow represent “seminal” vignettes, i.e. vignettes for which no candidate would ever deem that he or she was an unsuitable fit. Clearly the message sent to candidates taking the NIC and to interpreters in general that one “must interpret everything presented to them” stands in stark contrast to our long held organizational belief that discretion in accepting assignments is critical. Since using discretion in selecting assignments is one of the core operating principles of our long-standing Code, the rationale for adopting an “all or nothing” approach must be made clear to the membership.

9. Virtually all of the candidate’s with whom I have spoken have the same reaction and response to the 4-minute performance vignettes. They state “They [the vignettes] were too short”; “I was just getting warmed up”; “I didn’t have the right information to start in the middle [of a vignette]”; “I don’t think it was a fair sample of my work”; “I needed more time to get over my nerves”; “This isn’t what I do everyday”. These comments are, to me as I hope they are to you, extremely troubling. Even if we assume there is a valid and reliable empirical basis for the “4-minute vignette” approach, the experience of the candidates is quite at odds with that basis. The danger here is that the candidates will, rightly or wrongly, begin to spread these perceptions to certified and not-yet certified interpreters. The end result will be that we return to the set of circumstances that resulted in abandoning the former iteration of the NIC – acting in the absence of empirical data to guide our decision-making. A clear, empirically supported explanation of why the current NIC assessment is valid and can be reliably assessed by raters must be provided to the membership.

The issue of how and the process by which we determine who will be viewed “as one of us” (i.e. who is certified) is of grave concern to many in the membership. As you should well know, it has clearly created some very, very deep rifts within the organization. So deep are the rifts that there is on-going discussion of creating an alternate organization. Yet, we in RID continue to move forward without the necessary empirical support we need to offer a credible approach to the testing process. The “alphabet soup” of certification that we have produced sadly moves us closer and closer to being quite laughable in the eyes of those who view professional organizations as knowing clearly how to determine who will be viewed as “one of us”.

In an ideal world, we would out-source the testing process so that RID could be the “assessment watch-dog” and thus RID could avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Lacking that possibility at the present time, I believe that the Board should muster the political and moral will to insist on a truly valid and reliable certification test, accepted by the certified members. Then the Board should declare a phased in process by which ALL former certificates (save SC:L and CDI) would be declared invalid and no longer recognized. A staggered timeline would be put in place by which ALL those holding any certificate prior to the valid and reliable test would have to be retested and the “alphabet soup” would eventually no longer exist.

But we are where we are and that is that we have the current iteration of the NIC.

On behalf of the membership and all those who have served in positions of leadership, I am asking for a much greater level of transparency regarding the crafting of the current iteration of the NIC. If there is research data to support the decisions underlying the format of this iteration of the NIC those data must be made very public. I, for one, need to see the consultant’s report on why they believe this approach/format is valid and reliable before I can support this approach. I know that many of my colleagues, who are both members and organizational leaders, feel the same way.

Please know that I raise these questions and ask for this unprecedented level of public transparency in the best interests of RID the organization, of RID members and of Deaf people. I am happy to discuss any of these questions and concerns with the Board, individual or collectively, and/or the psychometric consultants hired to oversee the new NIC test.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need further clarification on any of the issues/questions raised. I eagerly await and expect your response to the questions and issues I have raised in this letter in a timely manner.

Dennis Cokely
Director, American Sign Language Program
Director, World Languages Center
Chair, Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures


Overall Frame

We should definitely not advance an approach to testing that is not directly supported by empirical data on sign language interpretation and that we must make those empirical data clearly and widely known to interpreters and Deaf people

The Questions that Need Answers

1. RID members need a more thorough explanation of why time and a simple mathematical formula should be the primary drivers behind the format of the certification test; if this is not true, then a clear explanation should be provided for how the current 4-minute per vignette test segmentation was determined.

2. An explanation for the process/principles used in the selection of and/or development of the vignettes be made known to the membership.

3. A full explanation of the empirical justification for this 4-minute approach must be provided to the membership.

4. A clear explanation of the rationale and justification for placing candidates at such an interpreting disadvantage must be provided to the membership.

5. A detailed explanation of the rational for, and empirical support for this decision and this deviation from forty years experience is also needed by the membership.

6. If there is evidence that supports the claim that a 4-miute sample can validly and reliably assess a candidate’s ability to assess sustained quality over time, then it must be made known to the membership.

7. What are the various English and ASL grammatical and semantic features in vignettes that raters will be assessing and do these five 4-minute vignettes provide sufficient linguistic and discourse variation to elicit an appropriate range of English and ASL grammatical and semantic features?

8. Since using discretion in selecting assignments is one of the core operating principles of our long-standing Code, the rationale for adopting an “all or nothing” approach must be made clear to the membership.

9. A clear, empirically supported explanation of why the current NIC assessment is valid and can be reliably assessed by raters must be provided to the membership.



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About the Author

Dennis Cokely is a nationally certified interpreter and has been interpreting for over four decades. He also served two terms as president of RID. After teaching at Gallaudet for 15 years, he worked full-time at the company he co-founded — Sign Media, Inc. Dennis has published widely on various aspects of interpreting and has directed the IEP at Northeastern since 1996. He almost always thanks Patrick Graybill who was his first guide into the DEAF-WORLD, but there are those days.

132 Enlightened Replies

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  1. formerlycertified says:

    I was certified for 15 years with a CI/CT and then let them go. When I decided to give certification another chance, I had to take the revised NIC and failed. My results showed that my interpreting was good but I was poor in following test directions which led to an overall fail. I am not comfortable with a system like this. I do not feel that the world of interpreting ethics has changed so much that my failure was due to content.

    Advice given to me by others who have experienced the same kind of result has been to take the “Teach to the test” workshops so that I can spew back information in a way that is acceptable to RID.

    I am rethinking my membership in RID. I am not sure now what, if any, benefit there is to staying. I am generally good at tests; this result shows me that certification is not an ensured minimal level of skill. It is a measurement of one way to think of interpreting and the need for skill seems to be minimized.

    • L Ruckel says:

      Having taken the Enhanced NIC…and reading the NIC Handbook… DON’T waste your money on these workshops. For one thing, the NIC Enhanced results weren’t released for the first tests until late May. I know, I took it in December.

      I agree with Dennis completely. When I contacted RID about vignette timing being an issue, I was given the response of “nobody has complained about the testing process.”

      Best advice, given the NIC Handbook comments, DON’T take those workshops. None of them have enve taken & passed the new test. Those workshops are for the old testing rubric and the “failure to follow instructions” means that you followed the old rubric of “Perspectives, Long-term effects, Short-term effects…etc.” They’re automatically throwing those out as “cheating” instead of dealing head-on with the workshops. If they have a problem with the workshops, they need to stop endorsing them.

  2. Jennifer B says:

    This is why I am having so much trouble committing to taking the test. I keep hearing about highly skilled interpreters failing and others with marginal skills getting “master” (when that was an option). I am not a terribly good test taker. I can’t seem to wrap my head around how to “correctly” answer an ethics question. I also agree that 4 minutes does not seem to be a reasonable measure of skills. I notice whenever I start my day, I need some warm up before things really get flowing. Overall concepts take time to develop as well. I’m so disenchanted.

    • Dennis says:

      Jennifer (and formerlycertified)

      Your posts also bring up a very important issue about “point-in-time” testing. There is an assumption in all such tests that your performance on that “point-in-time” test reflects your regular and usual work. Whether it actually does or not is really only known to the candidate. It is already difficult enough to produce our “usual and regular” work under the artificial testing conditions; at least, up until now the texts were were asked to interpret were long enough that one could get into a rhythm which increases the likelihood that we will produce our “usual and regular” work.

      I also think that, just as we have done with the BA/BS requirement, there should be an “alternate pathways” option. This might take the form of a portfolio with material submitted “over time”. Certainly there are obstacles to this (e.g. permission to take interpreted interactions), but I think it may be worth pursuing as an option.

      Thanks again for the post.


      • Laura says:

        I need to contact you in a more private forum.
        Is there an email address or phone number?

        I found one HUGE factor in this test that is designed to fail even some of the best interpreters…and it’s not fair. I didn’t realize it until I retook this test. If I had noticed it on the first time around, I would have never paid for another attempt because I know it’s a trap.

      • Janelle says:

        Hello Dennis,

        I could not agree with you more. Here in Arizona we are required to have a State license to work as an interpreter. One of the requirements is RID cerfification, be it CI/CT/CSC or NIC. There are highly qualified, very experienced, ethical interpreters, who have not been able to pass the current test. In Arizona, our ability to earn a livelihood is entangled with a test which at best is questionalbe in its efficacy for evaluation of interpreters abilities (as discussed in your letter to RID).

        I am distressed by the situation in Arizona, where we have a high demand for qualified interpreters and interpreters leaving the state to work elsewhere or changing professions because they cannot pass the NIC exam. The current law needs amemdment in order to rectify this situation.

        Dennis, I would like to ask your permission to submit a copy of your letter to RID to the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and others who are working on this issue.

        Many thanks for your time and consideration,

    • DualAdvancedTerp says:

      I wonder why someone who had been formally certified.. that had let it lapse.. and had not been interpreting for some time.. thinks its wrong that they fail a professional interpreting test. .. I know many interpreters that if they took the test again would fail. our standards are being raised.. Deaf consumers are expecting higher quality and better skills. being good at taking tests should not factor in here. its about your skill.

      i also feel people did not understand the meaning of the Master certification. this meant they had above average skills.. and had the ability to think thoroughly though a situation and make a decisions that they felt was right while understanding how it impacted those around them. “teaching to the test” got people thinking and being more aware of those they impact when making decisions. I feel that my study to take the NIC has lead me to be more thoughtful and careful on my decisions and don’t feel it was a waste.

      professions raise the bars.. in all fields.. sorry that you didn’t pass, maybe taking a class and sharpening up your skills is a good option if you want to compete in todays professional pool. our Deaf consumers deserve people who are on their game.. not those that feel that just because they have invested time in the profession that the consumer just ‘take what they give them.”

      I wish you the best but i feel that we are needing to raise this bar. the future is a challenge.. and we have to step up to meet it!

      • Dennis says:

        Thanks for the post.

        You state “being good at taking tests should not factor in here. its about your skill.” Your assumption here is that any test we might use is indeed an accurate reflection of one’s skill. But by any reasonable standard and any informed understanding of what interpreters actually do, it is, in my opinion, extremely unlikely that one can make the case that the current iteration of the NIC provides an accurate and fair sample of one’s skill. I believe that the basic issue is that the current test does not reflect what interpreters regularly do.

        Regarding the “Master certification” – I think that the CLAIM was that it was supposed to represent above average skills. But there was absolutely no pyschometric data that supported that claim. The workshop descriptions that I have seen (and the sessions I attended at RID conferences) that focused on the ethical portion of the former NIC test purported to give participants a formula that they could use – a checklist if you like – when answering the ethical scenarios. I’m not claiming that these did not help some people, but I would assert that this “teaching to the test” generally only produced a superficial level of ethical thinking and analysis. But those “learn the rubric” workshops did produce many people who would not have otherwise earned Advanced or Masters level certification – the workshop helped them become “good at taking the test”.

        I also definitely feel that we must continually raise the bar but we must do it in a way that is grounded in empirical data and we must assess the bar in a way that is unquestionably reliable and valid. I, for one, feel that we have not had that with the present or former iteration of the NIC.

        For me the fundamental issue is that if we are to rely upon a test to determine who is “one of us” then we need an unquestionably valid and reliable assessment. Only then can we make claims about whether a person has the level of quality and skills that we and Deaf people expect.

        Thanks again for the post.

      • Laura says:

        Dear DualAdvancedTerp…

        Having taken the test, I know that even some of the highest skilled interpreters would have a hard time passing. With that said, I do acknowledge that there are interpreters out there that hold older certifications that make you wonder if they still cary a copy of The Joy of Signing to their assignments.

        In such a flawed system, how can we be preventing SKILLED interpreters and yet allowing these people to keep their Certified status?

        I have been in the Deaf community for 13 years. My own husband is deaf. When I say that this test is designed to fail, I mean it.

        I challenge you to take the test and then come back to reflect on your claims. Clearly you haven’t seen the test.

        I’ve taken other tests, and this is NOT your typical performance test. Even if I pass it, I still stand by those who say it isn’t a fair assessment.

        As a spouse of a deaf adult, it outrages me that this limits deaf access by eliminating (and discouraging) Very qualified interpreters.

        I think the biggest problem is that “today’s professional pool” is too scared to step up their own game, so they simply found a way to bar future competition. If they want it to be fair across the board, require all currently certified interpreters to prove themselves, too. The whole point is to raise the bar, and summarize the many different types of certifications into just one “NIC”…Then the Entire professional pool will be raising the bar, and not just the fresh competition.

  3. Hello Mr. Cokely and all~

    I appreciate the time and thought and your obvious expertise invested in this post.

    I have experience as a rater for the NIC (when it was first initiated for membership testing). I found my job to be very challenging in consistently rating candidates. There was a significant change over time (several years) in which the test became more widely understood and there were new workshops that seems to very directly “teach to the test” in ways that seemed to me to be contrary to the training I had received as a rater. The items that were being “taught” were the exact items that were to be used to screen for NIC/NIC ADV/ NIC MASTER. This seemed unfair to me to those who had tested previously.

    I would very much support a solid, consistent method for testing the skills needed to be an effective community interpreter with a range of consumers.

    I would also suggest that if there is ever some kind of across the board re-testing effort, that any RID member in good standing be allowed one FREE evaluation. Many people have spent plenty on the various RID testing versions. I think that there should not be a cost incurred for this kind of organizational effort at standardization.

    Thank you!

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. I agree with you that for the last iteration of the NIC “teaching to the test” was present at a level we have never before experienced. Ironically, there are many who say that in terms of the actual test materials RID/we “got it right”. Unfortunately, in what may have been a response to “teaching to the test” , we have discarded the very stimulus materials that many feel were quite appropriate and valid. Some have suggested that the same materials, absent the tiered certifications, would have been a better response.

      I think that your suggestion about one free evaluation (if we ever reach the point where the majority of us agree that we all should be re-tested. Ultimately, however, your suggestion will have a cost and that cost would have to be offset somehow. But that is a discussion for when and if . . .

      thanks again for your post.


  4. Hello again~
    One other thought:
    I have always been uneasy with the combining of the ethical evaluation with the skills portion. I believe the ethical evaluation should be separate from the interpreting skills evaluation.

    • Dennis says:

      Shelly -

      It might be worth looking at how the NIH (National Institute of Health) certifies that those working on grants are aware of the regulations regarding the treatment of human subjects. They have a combination instructional/assessment website where you must read certain documents and then respond to questions. Since it is all automated, it may be much more cost effective and could be done as the written portion is done or the written portion could be expanded to include an ethical portion. RID/we could require that a candidate submit a certificate in order to apply for the performance portion of the process.

      thanks again


    • Kevin says:

      Hi Shelly –

      I agree with you that combining “Interview” – testing ethical knowledge with “Performance” – the actual work itself – is unsuitable. I have heard of people passing one and not the other. Since the written is separated, the NIC should really consist of three separate exams: written, ethical, and performance.

  5. JS says:

    A thousand thank you’s, for stating so eloquently what many of us feel.

    I can honestly say I’m only a member because I have to be. I hope your letter brings change.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the kind words. I hope the day comes quickly when you honestly say you are a member because you want to!! That will mean that things within the field and within the organization have altered course for the better!


  6. Lynetta says:

    Very well written article and letter. The one thing I take issue with is retesting every interpreter. This is fiscally impossible for some, and impractical for many.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. I agree that it would be an enormous undertaking. IF RID/we have a truly psychometrically sound assessment and IF we believe that past iterations of the NIC have not been shown to be psychometrically sound and IF RID/we can muster the will (lots of ifs there) then I think that in good conscience we owe it to Deaf people and to ourselves to be able to say with certainty “Here is the baseline – anyone holding certification as of XXX date is really “one of us”. If we don’t do this then there will always be the unspoken “Yeah but . . .” stratification of RID/us. Certainly it won’t be easy (if that day should ever come) but I firmly believe that such a step would be a clear indication that as a field we have matured and are able to do the right thing. Yes, there are fiscal challenges, but I believe that if we have the will and make this decision, then the fiscal challenges pale by comparison.

      thanks again


  7. Dear Readers,

    As someone who has been a member of RID for 40 years, I have invested a lot of time and energy serving on committees and task forces. I have been committed to not only helping interpreters increase their competence in order to improve the quality of service, I also devote my resources to elevating our field and supporting the efforts of Deaf Interpreters to work.

    We are indeed a young community going through growing pains,and that means we must learn from our errors in judgement and in practice. Although their are many interpreters I view as ‘professionals’, it is not based on membership in RID or on certification. It comes from a dedication to the work and to the future, a degree of emotional maturity that encourages discussion and debate, modeling ethical behaviors and professional demeanor, and a commitment to life-long learning and professional development.

    Over the past decades I have served “behind the scenes” and I continue to dialog with RID Board members and the home office. What I have experienced in many conversations is what causes me to refer to us as a field and not a profession. When people disagree with decisions made or when busy people put so much effort into moving us forward, those who are invested in the status quo turn to personal/emotional arguments to support their position. To illustrate, comments responding to dissent often contain these ideas: we are trying so hard to make everyone “happy”, we will hurt or alienate person or group X, they don’t appreciate our efforts, and so on.

    I totally understand the nature of voluntary organizational leadership and its sacrifices; I have been there and done that many times. People serve in these positions for various reasons. Their contributions should be recognized and appreciated. However, leadership does not mean that along with power comes “being right” all the time. True leaders welcome meaningful input and they do not not demonize those on the cutting edge who raise legitimate questions or challenge us to grow.

    Dennis Cokely makes a critical point in his post, “…it is unclear to me why the answers to the questions I raised should “…take some time and resources to complete.” After all the questions I raise are the essential questions one must ask and the evidence one must have in advance of implementing such a radically new assessment approach. The information should be readily available; if it has to be created in response to the questions I raise, there are even more serious questions about the process by which this iteration of the NIC was developed and implemented.”

    I believe that it is in the best interest of RID and interpreters to suspend a test that has so many problems (and is rapidly losing the confidence of the membership and others), than it is to defend a process that raises so many questions and is contrary to the pledges of transparency by the Board. Just as interpreters are to be held accountable for their decisions (or lack of decisions), the Board of Directors of RID needs to accept responsibility for its actions and model professional accountability for its members.

    My direct style of communicating my thoughts is not an indication of anger or disrespect. It is a value in my cultural groups (Deaf, Jewish, New York) and it comes from a place of passion.

    To our evolution!

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. I believe you are entirely correct when you say that in our field we often take things too personally. I think that we’ve done a fairly good job in IEP programs and in mentoring relationships with novice and working interpreters to separate one’s work from oneself. This allows us to discuss the work without the producer of the work taking it personally. I think we need to do the same thing organizationally, whether at the local or national level.

      I also agree that we need more direct communication — ironic, isn’t it, that for a field working with one community known for its direct style of communication many/most of us decide (individually and organizationally) to adopt the indirect style of communication of the other group with whom we work.

      thanks again for your post


  8. Venetia says:

    Your letter addresses many concerns I and others have with all the rapid changes taking placed… My only thoughts are how this impacts the Band of 34. Of all the candidates facing the exam – this group isthe ones being over- looked and forgotten.

    • formerlycertified says:

      Who are they?

    • Dennis says:


      Can you expand more on “the band of 34″?



      • Dana says:

        Hi Dennis,

        Great article by the way. The band of 34 are the 34 who were forced to pay for and take the test again because of Guy Motley. Most of these people were my friends. They should have provided a re-test for free.

        Hope this helped,


        • Boscoterp says:

          I am one of the Band of 34. Mr Guy Motley embezzled money, and as a result “compromised” the test. It’s not my fault RID didn’t do a background check on Motley.

          I called RID a myriad of times, but kept getting answers that didn’t match up with other some of the other 34. First they had our tapes. Then they told another they had the tapes, but couldn’t release them. Then they told another Bof34 that the tapes were destroyed. Excuse me?

          In the final analysis RID hired a felon. I now have to re-take- not the old exam that I passed (I mean failed), but a new test that in all accounts, seems like a daunting task. IF I pass great, but If I fail, in all seriousness, we will have to sell our house.

          Education… Excellence… Standards…

          • Dennis says:

            Thanks for your post. Was a reason given for the strange and questionable decision to destroy the tapes? Not releasing them to you may be understandable, but assigning them to different raters seems the appropriate thing to do.

            Sorry you and the other 33 had to go through this experience.

            • Boscoterp says:

              Well, they told me they had the tapes but couldn’t release them. They told someone else that the tapes were destroyed. So, several of us who’ve been in contact with them were getting conflicting stories.

              Eventually, one of the 34 had a lawyer contact RID. Ironically enough, we all got our re-rated scores a week later. What’s even more interesting, three of the 34 have the exact same scores!

              Just a few of the many lies and inconsistencies that have been littered throughout this journey.

  9. Sandra Bartiromo says:

    I also want to review the written portion of the test. My colleagues teach to the test and feel their students must have in depth linguistic knowledge prior to ever having time on task experience. Also, how do you answer ethical questions if your frame of reference comes from text book scenarios in a false setting, the classroom. I also think RID needs to rethink the 2012 BA requirement. BA requirement is necessary but the timeline is too short. Perhaps a certificate with a BA and a certificate without a BA. Similar to the nursing field, an LVN and a RN.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for your post. A review of the written test may be in order. However, I would want to do this only after we have tackled the performance portion and, I would suggest, the question of whether (if we have a psychometrically sound assessment) we require re-testing.

      Your idea of a two tiered certificate is an interesting one. Certainly there would have to be clearly delineated pay differences. So I wonder what workplace implications this might have and how this might impact hiring decisions.

      thanks again


  10. Roberto says:

    I agree with Dr. Cokely’s concerns. As an interpreter educator I have the same questions about the current testing process.

    I would add that if RID were to move to a single credential as Dr. Cokely suggests I would expect that all certified members in good standing would have a chance to take the new test for free so that we will not set a precedent of hitting up established certified interpreters for money every time we decide to change the test.

    • Dennis says:

      Roberto -

      Thanks for the post. My hope would be that if we, indeed, had a psychometrically valid assessment that we wouldn’t have to “change the test” going forward. The important components of the “point-in-time” testing approach that we have adopted for 40 years only has three critical parts – the stimulus material, the rating rubric and the raters. Changing the stimulus material, for example, does not “change the test”; it merely makes a different form of the test. Not unlike Apple which releases minor operating system upgrades (10.3, 10.4, 10.5, etc) as opposed to major upgrades (8.0, 9.0, 10.0, etc).

      See some of the earlier posts about the financial challenge of giving the test free.

      thanks again


      • Roberto says:

        Thank you for the reply Dennis.

        I guess my comment was based on an inherent fear that whatever comes next would also have to be replaced at some point. I agree that if we were to develop a test that could hold up over time, even with the periodic upgrade of stimulus, then we should all retest. I would be happy to pay the fee for that test. I understand that the cost has to come from somewhere but I would want assurances that this wouldn’t become an every X amount of years thing. (Unless we did want to change to an “over time” rather than “point in time” model.)

        • Dennis says:

          Roberto -

          I would certainly agree that once RID/we had a valid and reliable assessment then we could have a schedule for reviewing stimulus material and rating criteria as working conditions for interpreters changed e.g. if, hypothetically, all interpreters only worked in pst-secondary settings then the stimulus material should reflect that) or as research revealed more about interpreting. But, already having a valid and reliable assessment, we could make changes incrementally and there would be, in my opinion, no need to reassess those who had already having been assessed by a valid and reliable assessment.

          I would also think that if we did move to an “over time” assessment it should be offered first as an option and gradually eased in to replace the “point-in-time” assessment.

          thanks again


  11. Rachel Rose says:

    Many of the comments already made echo my own opinions that I’ve held over the past several years: the need for transparency, the fact that a leadership position does not mean a person is infallilble and the growing sentiment that RID should not be the only organization available to interpreters.

    To become qualified to drive a nuclear aircraft carrier in all conditions at sea (calm, choppy, while launching jets, during rescue operations, etc.), I was not recorded performing that task on a simulator. I achieved that qualification by performing required tasks a prescribed number of times and consistently while under observation. Having taken the original NIC, I STRONGLY believe there is no relationship between real-world interpreting and the ability sign in front of a camera. For the cost of the test, my money would better spent in paying for trained observers/raters to join me as I interpret several real jobs.

    If it were not for lack of a better option, I would have nothing to do with RID. They are more of a hindrance to me serving my community than a support.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. I have commented above on the difference between a “point-in-time” assessment approach vs an “assessment-over-time” which you advocate in your post. I agree that the “assessment-over-time” is often a better indicator of a person’s “regular and usual” work, but it is also generally impractical and much more costly (what would it cost you if your driving test was in all conditions and all road types?). We clearly make a tradeoff when we opt for “point-in-time” testing – expediency and efficiency for comprehensiveness and thoroughness.

      And you are correct when you say that interpreting to a camera is different than “real-world interpreting” but I would not go as far as saying there is “no relationship” between the two (does driving a car on a test track bear “no relationship” to the driving you do everyday?). Certainly there are things that interpreting to a camera cannot reveal (relationship with participants, incorporation of back-channel responses, ability to seek clarification, etc.). However, as long as we are clear on who the target participant/audience is, I can reasonably determine that you have been able to take a message expressed in one language and convey that meaning in another. By any definition, that is one of the essential elements of interpreting.

      thanks again for the post


  12. Hello again~
    RID is a voting organization.

    I think the membership can make changes to the existing organization.

    We are a service profession. The relationships we have with the greater community is valuable. If we are unhappy with the alphabet soup certification status, why would adding a new interpreting organization build greater trust at large in our professional community?

    Partnering with NAD is smart.

    Creating a solid certification exam that gives a reliable gauge of skills is smart.

    Undermining our long standing organization with a rich history would be counterproductive.

    Improving the current organization through open membership involvement (we have the internet…getting input should be achievable) makes sense to me. We need to be very careful about the ramifications of diluted national influence when people are still struggling for ADA access.

    What would NAD like to see?

  13. (typo above: are valuable)

  14. Peggy Huber says:

    Thank you, Dennis Cokely for an outstanding and articulate description of the challenges the NIC task force currently faces. However, I wish to point out that some of the concerns I have seen in the article as well as the following comments are inherent in any assessment tool.

    We must begin with the understanding that it is impossible to devize an assessment which exactly reflects the working condition and yet be psychometrically, economically and practically feasible. From there we can place reasonable parameters on the latter three and compare them with the “real world” conditions we hope to replacate. When critically analyzing an assessment, we do need to acknowledge the former statement – our task is impossible. This is not new to the concept of assessments. However, in every field we seem to have no choice but to “dance with the devil” in order to make some sense of the work and who is competent to do it.

    Dennis Cokely proposes valid questions on the process by which the current NIC has been developed. It speaks to the parameters and compromises the NIC task force has endorsed to arrive at our current assessment. Exactly what did that dance look like? On what rationale were the steps based? The stakes are too high not to ask them.

    I await anxiously for the RID board’s response.

    • Dennis says:


      I fully agree that no test will ever capture all that we do in real life. We are, in “point-in-time” tests trying to get a sample of work that will let us infer real-world work. Always a difficult proposition, to be sure. There are definite compromises that met be made and, as you rightly ask, we need to be aware of the compromises that were made and with which we are asked to live. The stakes are high indeed.

      thanks again


  15. Hello again~
    One last comment:

    Another skill set that is not evaluated by the current exam process and that is an integral part of successful interpretation is negotiating for meaning.

    The ability to interact with the participants in an interpreting exchange, to adjust and find a shared semantic base and the repertoire of strategies an interpreter utilizes to sustain dialogue, establish rapport and resolve miscommunication should be included in a certification assessment.

    • Dennis says:

      Shelly -

      Thanks for posting again. I don’t think it is a realistic expectation that a “point-in-time” test can ever capture all of the skill-sets that we need to be successful. This is why, I believe, it is so important that we have a clear understanding of what skill-sets are being assessed and what skill-sets are not. Unfortunately, the important skill-set you mention can only be assessed in real life and varies with the individual participants. Even though it is an important skill-set, it is virtually impossible to asses in a standardized fashion.

      thanks for the post.


      • Hi!
        Right…not in a standardized video encounter. However, this could be assessed by a live rater in a real-time video interpreting encounter. You could set up a remote video encounter for a 30 minute interaction.
        Brainstorming ;o)

        Also, wanted to add as regards the ethical portion: I think having the ethical section (could continue to use current video model for ethical eval) as a pass/fail in conjunction with the written exam is a better approach. Once a candidate has passed the ethical and written exam, then s/he would become a candidate for the performance portion. The performance portion should exclusively focus on interpreting/transliterating skills.

        • Laura R says:

          I like that! Real-time would be far better.
          Great idea.

          I also think the ethics and tenet knowledge should be part of the written exam. Leave the performance to actual performance assessment.

          ….and since I didn’t pass the new enhanced version, my husband wants to know if that’s grounds for divorce. He, and our friends, are all profoundly deaf. lol.

          • Laura….I don’t have much to add, but your comment made me laugh. While funny, it’s a profound statement as well. We try to personally interview each sign language interpreter wishing to affiliate with our agency. We meet brand new interpreters just out of college, we meet interpreters with multiple certifications, and we meet those who live their lives with deaf families and friends. There are so many layers necessary to create the ideal. The best candidate and the best fit for the job is not always obvious. I too wish the answers to Dennis’s concerns had been closer to the surface – - requiring little excavating to offer an informed reply. This will be interesting to watch unfold.

  16. Lisa says:

    I have a different perspective.

    Was the explanation about why the test was changed during the forum at the Atlanta conference last July not sufficient? I was in attendance at the forum and I felt the challenges to President Moose and Buck Chaffee of The Caviart Group were quite direct and were met with direct responses.

    I feel with so much information presented through the RID webpage (, when Bobbie Beth Scoggins affirmed NAD’s trust and input into the process, when we have a member-driven NIC Task Force since 2009 ( making recommendations and driving the process — the argument that there hasn’t been enough transparency just falls short.

    And I do think when a letter to the board comes by such an esteemed leader as Dr. Cokely, my national board darn well better craft a thoughtful response before shooting off a reply. As someone with extensive board/volunteer experience, it seems very reasonable that all parties – RID board, national office staff, NAD board, NIC task force, The Caviart Group — should all have a look-see when they clearly thought they’d communicated everything necessary in previous and ongoing efforts.

    Thanks for the dialogue — I’m also speaking from a place of passion and love for the field :-)

    Peace, Lisa Bolding

    • Dennis says:

      Lisa -

      Thanks for the kind words. I, too, was at the meeting in Atlanta and have read the press releases. Nowhere was such a radical departure as 4 minute clips discussed. What was discussed, as I recall, was an acknowledgment that the previous NIC iteration was flawed, the use of uploading and editing videos so they could be viewed by multiple raters and the promise that things would be improved.

      Neither at Atlanta nor in the press releases were we provided with the data needed for RID/us to state with confidence that we do indeed have a valid and reliable assessment. We were not given psychometric data; we were not given new protocol information, we were not given the “one hour, four minute scenario” approach; we were not given the critical elements the raters would be looking for, we were not given the prices by which raters would be deemed to be reliable.

      I believe that we need a greater level of transparency about those things that really matter and, in my opinion, that has not been the case.

      I, and many others who are reading and posting, also speak from a place of passion and love for the people with and for whom we work.

      thanks again


  17. T3 says:

    Dear Dennis,

    As someone else stated, thank you a thousand times for so eloquantly expressing what I have been feeling. You asked what the “Band of 34″ is. There are 34 people who received a letter from RID last June stating that their original NIC test “may” have been affected by the fraud committed by Guy Motley, well over a year prior. These people did nothing wrong. They paid their testing fee and went in and took the exam like everyone else. They waited. They recieved their passing results. They celebrated and proudly joined the ranks of certified interpreters. Many changed their career paths…went from one career to being an interpreter, leaving that former career behind. Others have encountered life-obstacles since then and are still in the throws of it now…cancer, for instance. And when they received that letter, surely it shook every single one of them to the core. How could this happen? Why them? If this is so, where is the proof that their particular exam was affected? They had received passing scores and now RID was saying they may not have actually passed yet provided them with no “non passing” scores…just a letter. Many followed up with RID asking those very questions. Answers were vague and inconsistant, and finally RID seemed to agree on a single statement no matter what questions were asked by these 34…”We understand the seriousness of this matter and your concerns, however, we must uphold standards in order for certification to carry any meaning.” In othere words, “Too bad, so sad. You must do what we say.” These 34 were given one year in which to re-test. If they pass, their NIC stands as-is. If they fail, they lose their certification…immediately. And this…THIS is the exam upon which their jobs/families/health insurance (if secured through their job as a certified interpreter)/reputation depends?? Many have already lost their certifications and now face unemployment. These people have families who must also suffer the consequences of RID’s mistake. And I assure you, it WAS RID’s mistake, though I shall not elaborate on that here. My point was to answer the question of “What is/Who are the Band of 34?” and to thank you again for your letter. The unjustness of this entire exam situation infuriates me. I agree that RID needs to be separate from the exam.

    Also, I took the “enhanced” exam recently and felt the way most people feel. I told a colleague that I felt as if I had been unexpectedly shoved into a Fun House at a rinky-dink carnival, jostled around from room to room and spit out at the other end. This is intolerable. Again, thank you for your letter.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post.

      That the “band of 34″ had to be re-tested seems puzzling to me. Weren’t they videotaped? Why can’t their videos be rated by bona fide raters? That, to me, would be the fair and just solution. Is there reason to believe the videos themselves had been altered/compromised? A free re-test should be, in my opinion, the choice of last resort. I would certainly support those failing the “enhanced” NIC making such a request of the Board.

      I assume someone from the “band of 34″ made this request to the Board? If so, I’d be interested in the response.

      thanks again


      • T3 says:

        Yes, the “Band of 34″ was videotaped/recorded onto DVD just as anyone else is who takes the exam. RID claims that their exams along with hundreds of others were sent out to bona fide raters (after the fraud was discovered) to be re-rated, and that those 34 did not “make the cut” in the re-rate. However, when asked to produce said tapes/DVDs, RID told some of the 34 that of their tapes/DVDs were there at the office, while they told others that they had been recorded over or destroyed. And still, re-rated scores were not sent to the 34…just the letter saying that they needed to re-take the exam or have their certifications revoked… that if they did not pass, their certifications would be revoked. Many, many questions have been asked of the Board and of RID staff. Again, they seem to have all agreed that they will listen to complaints and concerns, but will answer with “We understand the seriousness of this matter, [and we will not budge].” It seems to be well known that the original NIC exam was flawed from the beginning, and therefore many interpreters were mis-rated…many awarded certification that should not have been, and many not awarded certification that should have been. These 34 are, in my opinion, the sacrificial lambs of a flawed exam and fraud that could have been prevented by RID (Again, that is a whole other story in itself.). They are being made to bear the burden for RID’s mistake(s) so that RID can say “See? We had a situation but we’re taking care of it! Rest assurred that we won’t allow anyone to remain certified who shoudn’t be. We’ll make them re-test! It’s all under control! Education! Standards! Excellence!” Never mind the flawed test and rating system, or their own major oversights. They cannot possibly risk their own reputation. After all, who is going to remember that 34 people had their lives turned upside down and suffered emotional, psychological, and quite possibly lasting financial devestation after this all blows over? Indeed, it almost has “blown over” as far as RID is concerened, as the one year window for the 34 to re-take the exam comes to a close very soon. It is only those who received that life-changing letter and a handful of supporters who will remember.

        So once again, though this reponse has gotten off-topic, thank you for your letter. A better system/exam is needed, for certain. I am hoping that your letter is the beginning of change. I absolutely love being an interpreter, but the current state of RID and this exam makes me wish I had a passion for something else.

    • Shannon says:

      Hi T-3, I was trying to describe to a friend why exactly I felt so awkward during the new test and you described it perfectly: “I had been unexpectedly shoved into a Fun House at a rinky-dink carnival, jostled around from room to room and spit out at the other end. This is intolerable.”
      I feel like RID tried to take a test that was well over 2 hours long and cram it into one hour. The whole thing felt off and it distracted me. If they want to have 4 minute clips then they should make new video’s that are meant to be 4 minutes. I felt confused the whole test and it is not because I lack interpreting skills!

  18. Laura R says:


    The “teaching the test” that happened with the old NIC was straight from the rubric that was provided in the handbook. If there was a problem, it was with the test…or at the very least, the RID endorsement of such workshops.

    The enhanced test does not give ANY idea of what the rubric looks for, which is too far to the extreme. I was the first to take this test in my state because I didn’t know what to practice.

    I did not pass. I have no way of knowing if the rater was legit. I also have no idea if it was reviewed once or 3 times. I think all of the vignettes should be rated more than once.

    I am so glad you posted this and posed those questions. There are plenty of qualified candidates being failed, and plenty holding certifications that I could interpret circles around. I am a full-time Interpreter, with EIPA. My own husband is profoundly Deaf. I do deserve a better explanation…and $355 for members is not cheap.

    I do think that RID should be more open about the process. Right now, it just looks like an easy $400-$800 in testing fees for the organization to rake in…and a great way to weed out the rising competition in the interpreting field.

    4 minutes was NOT much time, and 2 minutes wasn’t enough time to read some of the screens before moving on. I emailed a complaint and was told that NO ONE else had made ANY complaints to the process. I’m glad that someone with a stronger voice has stood up and requested RID to be more forthcoming.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. I certainly agree that were RID/we to provide the “scoring rubric” that would clearly lead to “teaching to the test” (isn’t it ironic that one could get CEUs from RID for taking a workshop on how to “beat the RID test”). However, I would argue that RID/we should provide the domains that are being assessed (e.g. we know, from the testing format, that negotiating isn’t a domain that is assessed). Articulating those domains would help to and would require that RID/we provide a clearer idea of what is being assessed and what is not. Those domains would be sufficiently broad that they captured the various skill-sets we deem seminal to our art/craft. The way to prepare for the test would be to develop/enhance fundamental interpreting skills.

      I also find it unlikely, although possible, that no other complaints have been lodged. Perhaps you, as an early test-taker, were the first.

      hopefully the “comprehensive report” will provide answers that will address some of the doubts/questions you have.

      thanks for posting


  19. elyse says:

    if you were here ii would kiss you. i took the and test in 2001 and it was a live panel. they were able to see me and how i interacted with them and then the tape was ok.
    i know its expensive but the test proves nothing. if you ar a good tester great. but that not what interpreting is about.
    i was one of those lucky 34 and received nic. when i retook the test i failed and was devastated. they are now allowing me to retake the new test. 4 minutes. what can you show in 4 minutes.
    also at the last conference in dc at rally they cancelled that workshop.
    your article made me feel less devastated as i have seen you and i thought you were deaf. i told you that at the conference. and if you feel and see things this way….well what can i say.
    you’re the best and thank you.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the kind words (and the virtual kiss!). I’m curious – you said you took the test in 2001 before a live panel. That is unusual – can you explain why you had a live panel and how that differed from the video assessment?

      take care


      • Jules says:


        The live panel you mention, was that for the original NAD test? Which was offered from 1991 until 2001 (?) when, I think it became the AACI for a brief period of time before the combined RID/NAD test, the NIC, was offered.

        I also tested for the first time under the NAD system in 1998. I received an NAD III (Generalist), which for someone that had only graduated from an IEP 7 months before taking it, seemed completely appropriate to me.

        I’ve often thought about taking an RID test but to be frank, when I started my career it was much too expensive to consider,–my first interpreting job with a school paid $10.50/hour. Later with all the issues and discussion surrounding the NIC (and now the enhanced NIC) I didn’t want to risk money, my time, and my self-esteem on a test that may or may not be valid.

        Now I am at a point in my career where my certification is not really a true measure of my abilities but I’m not convinced that passing (or failing as so many competent interpreters have experienced) the current NIC would be a true measure either. So I will will keep my “lowly” NAD III certification and continue to seek better understanding of myself and my abilities elsewhere via continued education and research. I, too, will continue to watch for and hope that RID addresses the many concerns people have posed here and in other forums.


  20. Austin Beatty says:

    Dr. Cokely,

    As many others have stated, thank you for your article. I appreciate your thoroughness, and the time you have taken to share your perspectives with the RID Board, as well as the interpreting community at large. Your letter is well-stated, and I -along with many others, I’m sure- am eager for a response.

    As someone just coming into this field, I have, already, developed my own opinions on this organization of ours. An organization this purports to provide oversight, guidance, and standards for an entire professional body must model stability, consistency, and transparency. Not only is this important for said professional body, it is also important for all stakeholders impacted by the organization. “Alphabet soup” doesn’t give an emerging professional a very solid foundation to come up from, nor does it do much to develop the profession. If emerging interpreters can’t feel solid about the national organization that serves our community, its survival is threatened.

    Per the question of “alphabet soup” and standardizing all certified interpreters’ credentials: we have seen the old “grandfather clause” take effect when the standards around a BA/BS were introduced. I find myself wondering: what would be the harm in enacting the same clause with regards to certification? Rather than requiring all certified interpreters to re-test for the NIC credentials (costly for all); and because the three tiered NIC certification no longer exists (making it impossible for stakeholders to formulate opinions on NIC-certified interpreters skills): is it naive of me to propose that anyone who has been certified by RID up to this point (CI/CT/CSC/NAD – am I forgetting any?) -barring specialist certifications- be granted NIC status, effective xx date. Therefore, no one who has been interpreting for 30+ years will be required to risk losing their certification by re-testing; no one will have to pay for re-testing (long-time terp or national organization); all interpreters will hold one uniform credential, no ranking involved. In the way that most service professionals have one standard credential after their names, so too, can interpreters.

    As for the ethical portion of the exam: being asked to defend someone else’s ethical decision-making, via CPC regurgitation, is no indicator of the tester’s ethical capacity. I agree with others that RID might do better to include ethical dilemmas in the written portion of the exam.

    Writing as a newbie interpreter, thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences and perspectives.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. I have a couple of quick reactions to your post. First, I personally would oppose “grandfathering” (i.e. simply awarding NIC to those holding prior certificates) for two reasons: first, I think there would always be the “they didn’t take the “real” test” mentality continuing a hierarchical model that we have now. Some of us would have actually taken the psychometrically sound assessment and others would not have done so. We could not then present the NIC as a solid guarantor of competence. Second, if we did have a demonstrably psychometrically sound assessment, I would support a system that would have our skills assessed every 10 years or so. The fact is that ours is a skills based field, not a knowledge based field. I think that our current CMP is definitely geared toward allowing us to acquire knowledge-based CEUs. But, as anyone involved in language-based fields knows, skills can deteriorate quickly.

      As someone just coming into the field, I hope you do not become jaded too quickly. The field and the organization needs energetic and committed members to continue to push RID/us to excellence.

      thanks for the post


  21. Tom Satterlee says:

    Dr Cokely,

    While at the last national conference in Atlanta there was discussion regarding England’s testing method and how it is not ‘point in time’ testing. I have been intrigued by the idea ever since, has there ever been any research into that and possibly using some of their ideas?

    Tom Satterlee

    • Dennis says:


      I was involved in the early stages of England’s assessment approach. It is a portfolio approach that is workable given the size and scale of the interpreting community in England. Unfortunately I don’t believe that it is workable given the size and scale of the interpreting community in the US. Having said that, if RID/we were to develop an “alternate pathway to certification” (with appropriate specifications for who would qualify for the “alternate pathway”) we definitely could borrow some ideas from their approach.

      thanks for the post


      • Leah says:

        Dennis and Tom:

        I have yet to post a comprehensive note of my views on this whole grand issue, however, this has been one of my main points in my mind from the start. I believe that there has to be a way to use a portfolio style/”over time” evaluation, therefore credentialing interpreters appropriate to their individual skill sets. While we all have many things in common in our work, there are more variables to even count, and therefore I do not believe a standardized test is a reliable way to evaluate our skills in our work. We are to be ethical people/professionals in accepting which assignments fit us the best (or which we fit the best), so testing a candidate on a scenario he/she wouldn’t accept in the first place is not acceptable. Or, perhaps the candidate would accept an assignment a bit out of his/her reach, but his/her prep would be extensive to ensure the work produced is quality– something that is not possible in the current iteration of the NIC. Not to mention other factors such as teaming and/or mentoring and the other points mentioned above in this discussion.
        Also, if we are ethical, and we all should be, as humans first of all, and as interpreters and servants to the Deaf community, then our portfolio should be a legitimate way of evaluating our skills.
        I understand there are also variables that make this evaluation style flawed, but those can be ironed out. It is simply in brainstorming stage at this point. I will look further in the the testing system in England mentioned above.

        I have a question for Dennis:
        I, too am a “victim” of the “Enhanced NIC”, as a qualified interpreter, validated by EIPA and employer/agency evaluations, I have failed it twice, with a lower score on my second attempt. As a working interpreter, with regular association in the Deaf community, I wonder how it is possible my skills have waned.
        I am torn at this point whether I should even bother writing a letter to RID. You have articulated my perspective so well, I’m tempted to send a letter saying, “What he said.” No, not literally, but I don’t know what else I could add, except my own experience with the test and my own story. Do ‘they’ even care about our stories? It seems their responses so far have been ‘It is what we say it is, deal with it’ themed. Will a letter from me even do any good?
        I am researching to see if there are more current discussions available for reading. Have there been any responses and I’m just not aware?

        Thank you a million times over for your standing up for the “victims of the enhanced NIC”.

        • Windy says:

          As a seasoned, long-certified interpreter and as an interpreter educator, I am also baffled by this so-called ehanced NIC. I am not new to assessing interpreters, and I am very familiar with Leah’s work. I read her results, and the very items it claims she fell short on are things that I have identified as her strengths. She was one of my more advanced students two years ago, and she has only improved with time and experience. It is frustrating and quite mystifying to see her fail this exam (twice) when I know she is qualified to be working. I don’t know how to help her prepare for a test that doesn’t seem to be measuring any of what an interpreter needs to be doing.

  22. debbymartin says:

    I must admit I was amazed that interpreters were going to be evaluated on a 4 minute test. I simply can’t understand how this will work. I agree with the points made by Mr. Cokely. The only thing I disagree with is phasing out all certifications and being re-evaluated. I worked hard and paid a lot for the certifications I have and am very proud of them. I am 54 years old. I have pretty much decided not to take the NIC for various reasons, one of them being my age. If I were younger I think it would make sense for me to take the new test. I think if interpreters decide to take a new test, and pass, then they adopt the new certification and drop the old. But for those of us who are not interested in taking the new test, don’t strip us of what we worked so hard for.

  23. HH says:

    I took the new test the first weekend it was offered, December 4th, 2011, and share the sentiments that have been expressed here. Every time I felt like I was getting into a comfortable place with my product, I was instructed by the video to STOP INTERPRETING. It was very disconcerting. I’ve never taken any of the other tests, so I can’t compare. I also have no idea whether I passed or failed. Nearly six months later, I have no results. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to receive notice at the end of January that raters hadn’t even been trained for the test yet. The same letter noted that scores would begin to be released in March, but as I’ve said, I’ve heard nothing. Is this the definition of “efficiency”?

  24. Sandra Bartiromo says:

    I agree with you Dennis, we are a skills based profession. I will suggest that knowledge is important but skills should be assessed prior to taking the written test. The written test can be retaken up to two times. This is similar to other occupations where retesting is permissible. The notion about grandfathering should also be permissible if CEUs and active interpreting documentation can be supplied at 4 year intervals. If we fashioned ourselves and our organization like other occupations we could stop re inventing the wheel every time. There are plenty of fields that have long time historical acceptance without the continued “in house” disruptions to the members.

    • Dennis says:

      Sandra -

      RID/we can be a creative bunch. So I am willing to cede that we may be able to conceive of a plan that would grandfather (and then do away with) all previous certificate holders on a scheduled basis if, and only if, we could ensure that the skill-set originally assessed had either remained intact or had improved. And as part of that plan RID/we would figure out a reasonable schedule/way to be able to reaffirm that we were maintaining our skill-sets.

      thanks again


  25. John Stuckless says:


    Do you think it is possible to have an accurate test that isnt “live”, either in person or via vp/video link, etc.?

    Thanks ahead of time,

    John Stuckless

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post and interesting question. If RID/we want a standardized assessment (to ensure that everyone who takes the assessment is assessed the same), then the answer is “No”. With a “live” assessment the participants in each interaction will be different (some easier, some harder, some clearer, some not as clear, etc.) so the stimulus material will always be different. If you try to use “live teams” of participants then after the third or fourth time, they are no longer actually naturally – they have memorized/rehearsed the script. (For what it is worth, I differentiate between a test, which is scored by right and wrong responses, and an assessment that is judged on a scale of successfulness).

      This is clearly a trade-off; some things can’t be assessed with a standardized assessment and some things can’t be guaranteed with a “live” assessment. RID/we have to be clear about what core elements of our art/craft we are able to assess with a standardized assessment and then we must have agreement that those elements that cannot be assessed aren’t less important, but we are unable to assess them in a standardized fashion. Certainly we can do things like present a video portraying problematic logistics and ask candidates to describe what, if anything, they would do. But that (like presenting ethical vignettes and asking a candidate to critique the decision-making of the interpreter in the vignette) is an indirect indecent of what might happen in reality. I believe that, with the appropriate set of stimulus materials (that reports indicate RID/we may have had with the previous iteration of the NIC) we can obtain reasonable samples of a candidate’s work that will allow reasonable projections of an individual’s ability to interpret and/or transliterate.

  26. Rose says:


    Thank you so much for speaking up so eloquently. You articulated many of the concerns I felt but couldn’t find the right words to express clearly. I just took the enhanced NIC in January and am still awaiting results. While I understand the need for expedience, the switch to the new test felt disorganized (i.e. instituting the test before training raters) with a definite lack of information provided to candidates before taking it. With a test that is this important to an individuals ability to earn a living, there should not be any surprise as to the format or reasoning behind the test.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. Disorganized and unprepared certainly seem to be the themes that describe the implementation of the “enhanced NIC”. We clearly need to expect a much higher level of execution from RID/us. It is precisely because the stakes are so high for so many that we need to insist that things are as transparent as possible. I have confidence that RID/we have the ability to get things right; the question is whether RID/we have the will.

      thanks again for the post


  27. Peg Thomas says:

    Hi Dennis: Thanks so much for this post.

    I had been interpreting for decades before deciding to get my NIC–I stopped and started again. I have been diligent about getting back to speed and took a Bootcamp course last fall. However, on the last day of the camp, the NIC handbook was released Dec 1st which as you know completely changed the test and changed everything about how I prepared for both tests. I went on to take the test but I know I didn’t do well (they had’t even hired the judges so am still waiting). Here are a few of the reasons I felt off my game:

    1) The new handbook does not have a format for answering the Interview Questions. It specifically states that the rubric was abolished because it was construed as gaming–so if you use it, you must be trying to game the system. The results? How the heck do you answer the question? There is currently no format. And, I think that after looking at tapes and tapes of people trying to answer without a format, RID will indeed develop one. I think developing 4 questions to answer, or SOMETHING would be helpful. I found myself (on the new test) quoting the proper ethic, talking about interpreter prep, bringing in some information, being careful to avoid anything that would look like the rubric and finally sitting with a smile for almost a minute. Should I have used the time to simply add random thoughts? Not sure. I felt betrayed. My months of practicing for this test, organizing my thoughts, getting timing for a 5 minute answer that would now be a 3 minute answer was gone. And, you are right, I was completely unprepared for a 4 minute time period. So, there are some nice screen shots of me sitting and smiling.

    2) The interview section is now “in ASL” and so what does that mean? Many interpreters don’t make it all the way to ASL and I am one of them–I know that and still think I am good. I am much better than I have been in years, but I would not say that I can provide my original thoughts completely in ASL in three minutes. Before there was no analysis of the interpreting skills on the Interview part–and I agree that was strange. But now what happens to folks who interpret in educational settings, or work with clients who are more English based, or who mess up during a three minute presentation and put the verb in the wrong place in the sentence? Does interpreting in ASL really mean going all the way from English to ASL while organizing your thoughts for an original answer? As interpreters we don’t give original answers and personal reflections. It initially shook me, now that I have been through it I think I could probably handle it.

    3) The test now requires that you defend or criticize the actions of the interpreter. I wrote to RID because I didn’t catch that one comment at the end of the narrative about whether to defend or criticize. Yikes! So I found starring into the video not sure if I was defending or criticizing. I chose defend. However, to a nervous interpreter taking an exam, being clear about whether you are defending or criticizing makes a big difference.

    4) I failed to take advantage of the 5 sheets of paper because I have never used notes during interpreting and didn’t think to copiously take notes during the narrative to refer to them during my performance. So now I know.

    5) All in all even though I am certain that I didn’t pass, I think the test was fair–just very different than what I and everyone else thought it would be. The Performance part is about snapping into an interpreting situation within the first two minutes. The lack of formatting for the Interview part is really troubling.

    Will I sit for the NIC again? I suppose but I feel like it was unfair to have me pay $350 for an experiment and to now pay another $300 because changes are to be made–and–they should. Don’t I get a guinea pig rate?

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post and for your honesty regarding your experience. I can certainly sense your frustration. While all of your points are well-taken, I am most taken aback at your point #3 regarding the ethical portion. Again, I think RID/we had it right in the last iteration of the NIC (and whether the ethical portion should or should not be part of the performance portion is a question worth considering). In that iteration we asked candidate’s what their thought process was and what factors THEY considered in making decisions. Now we have moved to criticizing the actions and decisions of another, what we are assessing is not the CANDIDATE’S decision-making but rather their ability to criticize the decision-making of others. Here again RID/we need to have absolute clarity about what RID/we feel are the seminal skills in the arena of ethical decision-making and understanding of the Code of Professional Conduct — is it the ability to critique others and recognize appropriate/inappropriate decisions made by others or is it the ability of candidates to reason through difficult ethical decisions?

      thanks again for the post and for your honesty.


      • Shannon says:

        Thank you for bringing up this very interesting question: “is it the ability to critique others and recognize appropriate/inappropriate decisions made by others or is it the ability of candidates to reason through difficult ethical decisions?” This shift in the testing of ethical decision making has given me reason to pause.

        In our profession I already see too much criticism/judgement of others’ work based on a glimpse of only some of the demands with which an interpreters was working. Will this shift in the certification test help to perpetuate this behavior? I truly hope not.

        A thorough response by RID to your question is one in which I would be interested.

  28. Tamara Moxham says:

    As an instructor in an IEP I have come to realize that interpreting to a camera is missing about 70% (in my opinion) of what is happening in real life – the rapport of the consumers with whom we are working. This rapport gives us the ability to makes those constant tiny adjustments that is at the heart and soul of real-world interpreting. The reality is that IEPs and certification testing cannot afford to hire live deaf and hearing people to simulate interpreting situations. While this remains so the real meat of what we are testing for will remain an issue.

    I was a beta tester for the NIC and received master level. When I later read the rubrics, what was considered master level was not what I remember doing on my test. What I think makes me an effective interpreter is that I remain teachable, I take continuing education seriously, I listen to all stakeholders, and I realize that this is going to be expensive and that I am part of RID as a member, not separate from it. I may have to pay out of pocket for the next test. I will do that and write it off my tax returns.

    We are not the only profession who puts a lot of work and resources in for little financial gain. Nurses, librarians, teachers, the list goes on. As Betty said – we are a young profession in our growing pains. We are now the teenagers who are complaining loudly. Maybe we should look to some of these older professions to mentor us.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. It is true that RID/we have, historically, focused on the technical side of interpreting and not what my friend and colleague Sharon Neumann Solow calls the “soft skills” of interpreting. The obvious reason is that the “soft skills” will necessarily vary from situation to situation because the participants vary (even if, for example, we are in a post-secondary setting interpreting for the same Deaf students or Deaf instructor – their mood varies from one day to the next or the classroom dynamics vary). So trying to assess the “soft skills” in a way that we can validly generalize from the results is virtually impossible. But we definitely should continue to think of ways in which we can simulate environments in which students can learn those “soft skills” and ways in which we might be able to validly and reliably assess those “soft skills”.

      thanks for the pot.


  29. Hello again~
    I fully appreciate reticence mentioned to re-test and the desire to grandfather.

    The purpose of re-certifying would be for the benefit of consumers, to whom we corporately have a duty, to ensure as much as possible that a RID certified interpreter is a qualified, capable interpreter for community appointments.

    From the professional standpoint, it would be incumbent upon us and assist in standardizing if there has been a flawed certification process previously, due to known errors (which it seems have been identified with the NIC exam), and the new exam would need to be deemed fully valid by psychometricans etc… We really should be able to get this right, consistently.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post.

      I agree – we owe it to those we serve to provide them with a reliable indecent of minimum competence and, yes, “we should be able to get this right, consistently”!!!


  30. Colleen Jones says:

    Hello Dennis.

    Thank you for publishing your clearly-worded letter and for opening the discussion on this topic.

    As a pre-certified interpreter and recent ITP graduate who is planning to take the NIC sooner or later, I am wondering if you have any advice on timing. I was planning to take the new test by the end of the summer, but am now seriously doubting my ability to pass. Do you anticipate any forthcoming information or changes that would warrant people in my situation delaying taking the test?

    Thanks for your time.

    • Dennis says:


      Congratulations on your recent graduation. While I have no crystal ball, I think if I were in your position I would wait for the “comprehensive report” that the Board promised it would share with the membership. That report should provide the information you would need to make an informed decision. Hopefully that report will be issued in the very near future. That report and responses from the members will provide clarity as to the next steps that need to be taken.

      thanks again for the post.


  31. Shadowhands says:

    I have recently taken the current test. I felt I did “fine” about most of my performance, but I walked out with my mind a storm about what trouble we are in as a profession, and how unaccomplished I will feel when I get that certificate in my hand. I did not feel assessed at all. I felt like RID had taken a picture of my pinky toe, and was going to assess my athleticism based on the length of my nail.

    Dennis has just voiced all of my concerns very eloquently. It is utterly depressing.

    Here’s a new ethical scenario for the test: “The interpreter hands their card to a hearing client at the end of the job. The client, a family practitioner, looks at it and says, ‘Nationally Certified, what does that mean?’ the interpreter feels confident in their skills, but knows that the certificate in no way represents their level of ability or that of any other interpreter who has taken the same test. The interpreter says, ‘it means I get paid more.’”
    You agree with this interpreter’s decision, support it using the CPC.

  32. David says:

    Great comments. Now I’d like to follow up with written exam for CDI (Certified Deaf Interpreter). As you know that those exam was designed and developed in 20 years ago and not much to alter since then. Many of us have failed and requested for clarification on errors they made on exam. As an ASL Instructor, I do give them exam and also give out the correction after the exam so they will know what to do next time and prepare for better. But after CDI exam, they don’t do that…its very difficult because of wordings on exam were pretty tricky.
    Two things, I want for RID to do…
    1. Do data on most common errors were made on exam so they can analyze and why
    2. Revisit written CDI exam
    3. Why wait until 6 months to re-take written CDI exam while limited resources out there to assist?

    Thank you

  33. Thank you, Mr. Cokely, for inspiring me. I so badly want the organization to make me proud, and I am willing to get involved as necessary.

    I’m happy to see that the comments on this article are constructive, and that it hasn’t devolved into a “flame war,” I think that bodes well for our profession, may we march forward.

  34. Angelita says:

    I am a CODA who has been interpreting for over 20 years. I interpret at our local university and freelance. I finally decided about 2 years ago to go ahead and get certified and I have been so frustrated and angry with RID throughout the whole process. I found out about the new AS requirement after I decided to begin the process and although I have over 100 college units, I had not actually finalized an AS degree – I took the appropriate final class to get the AS degree and planned everything out very carefully so that I could take/re-take if necessary all the tests and be done before the deadline for the new requirement for the BA degree. I felt like I was walking on shifting sand the entire time as RID kept changing the rules, changing the requirements and every time I contacted them they were extremely unhelpful. I took the NIC enhanced test on Dec. 3rd (I scheduled the test last August and was not informed of the new test change until 1 month before my test date), I was not informed of the new outline of the test until 2 days before my test. I was extremely disappointed in the new test. I am a good interpreter – My dad teaches college ASL and both my parents are extremely active in the Deaf community, I am politically savvy and I know I am capable, I am a CODA and still I left the test shaking because I felt it did not reflect my abilities as an interpreter.

    I have never walked into an assignment without out at least having an idea of what the content might be – adequate time to process it in my head, research if necessary, think about specialized vocabulary that might be used and therefore be prepared. Honestly some of the vignettes felt shorter than 4 minutes. In most assignments I usually have time to observe the situation, suss out who I am interpreting for and their language levels, any accents, regional signs etc. The test vignettes threw someone on the screen who I had never even seen before – with some variations on signs that I had never seen before, with topics I have never even thought of. In a real interpreting situation, one would have time during those first few minutes to adjust to the speakers way of speaking, their language, to assess regional differences etc. I agree that the short test vignettes did not allow for getting into the “flow” of the task – just as I got over the initial shock and started to get into the rhythm, it stopped. In the 2 minutes between each vignette (where I was not allowed even a drink of water to calm me), I just sat and felt my self confidence drop as I mentally beat myself up and got more and more anxious about the next vignette – all while smiling as I was being videotaped. It was horrible. It has almost been 6 months and I still have not received my results. If I need to retest, I will probably not find a site that has any vacancies before June 30th, and every time I contact RID about this, they tell me that they are not going to give any exceptions to the June 30th deadline. They have proved themselves to be far from a professional organization and I am wondering if I even want to pursue the certification if I find out that I failed.

    I am also puzzled about the BA requirement. I understand the desire to have an AS or general education degree – but how does a BA in molecular biology or computer engineering etc. make one more qualified to interpret in the wide variety of interpreting situations than someone with an AS? The BA requirement seems like a pretty big hurdle for people who want to be an interpreter and do not necessarily want a random degree in a specialized field that may or may not ever be useful in their actual interpreting work.

    I really appreciate your letter and I look forward to the continuation of this conversation – at this point the certification seems like a joke and RID does not seem to be serving the best interest of its members or ultimately the Deaf community.

  35. Amanda Weiss says:

    I would be interested to hear from someone who has taken the NIC enhanced test and passed. Is everyone failing? That is feeling I get.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Amanda,
      I wonder the same thing. I misplaced mt latest copy of RID “Views”… there a section that lists newly certified interpreters along with their certification. Curious if there are any NIC enhanced interpreters listed.

      • Lauren Clay says:

        RID VIEWS says those listed were awarded certificaton between 12/13/2011 to 2/13/2012. Two of my friends listed there from two different states took their test in Summer 2011. So no, I don’t believe the names in the back of the VIEWS are of Enhanced NIC test takers.

    • Jacki D says:

      I have 3 friends who have all taken the enhanced NIC – one was CI/CT before. All 3 have failed.

    • Rose says:

      I took the enhanced NIC back in January. I just got my results back a couple days ago and passed. A friend of mine took it in December and passed as well. Which means it is possible. I’m not sure what specifically we did right or wrong though. We did not study together and are from different regions of the country. As others have already said, we both felt like the lack of information prior to taking the test was a huge disadvantage. Hopefully the “comprehensive report” promised will give us a better understanding and make the testing process less daunting.

      • Dennis says:

        Rose -

        It may possible for many who take the “enhanced” NIC to pass (and believe me this, in no way, is meant to impugn your competence as an interpreter). Unfortunately that, in and of itself, does not make the test a valid assessment of interpretation competency.

        In addition to the lack of information prior to taking the test, did you feel the test fairly and adequately assessed what your work requires of you on a daily basis? Did you feel you were able to provide adequate samples of your typical work? Did you feel that the skills/competencies you exhibit in your usual work were reasonably sampled? Did you feel that the unreasonable demands of the “enhanced” NIC (e.g. must remain seated) accurately sampled your usual work?

        If the answer to any of these is “No, I did not.” then I submit that we do not have a valid assessment of interpretation skills/competencies.

        thanks for the post.


      • LeanneB says:

        Hi Rose, I took the enhanced NIC in mid February and just received my results. I passed, like your friends did. We have a right to feel proud of our accomplishment- don’t you agree??

  36. Jackie says:

    Having just taken the test last Saturday, I would have to agree with your concerns regarding its validity to show a true picture of the inter

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post. Your reaction is certainly in line with many who have talked with me and who have posted here — the current iteration does NOT provide interpreters with an appropriate opportunity to demonstrate their work. That this seems to be an almost universal theme is one very strong reason why the face validity of this test is problematic.

      thanks again for the post


  37. L.Michelle says:

    First I have taken the enhances NIC, failed. I thankfully have my CI/CT. My heart goes out to those whose livelihood depends upon passing the test. One made the statement they could possibly lose their house that is very wrong and they were one of the band of 34 who RID has seriously mistreated. My only question: IS RID LISTENING TO THE VOICE OF IT’S MEMBERSHIP?! Also, at this time has a reply been given to to the article from RID leadership?

    • Dennis says:

      L.Michelle -

      Thanks for posting.

      Given that I have had no response to my letter to date and the last correspondence I have had about the letter was on April 22, I would have to say that RID (by whom I presume you mean the Board) may be listening but they are surely not responding!!! And we eagerly await that response. That it has been over two months in the making is, i itself, very telling!!!

      thanks again


  38. B says:

    I understand the need for a standardized test, however, in this profession that focuses on equal access, the test is not accessible for many people with quirky vision. I am among the those who have severe difficulties with 2D images due to “convergence insufficiency” which is a doctor documented disability, yet I am told that accommodations cannot be made because the test must be on video to be standardized.

    I am told that in this day with so many people working VRS/VRI that the need to read video taped 2D images is paramount. I am an ethical interpreter and follow the CPC…I don’t take assignments that are outside of my skill set, i.e., no VRS/VRI for me.

    As someone who grew up in the Deaf community I have been exposed to this language all my life. Funny that I am qualified to teach my language and culture to others, but I am not carrying a certification card that says I know my stuff. I would love to see an alternative testing format that encompassed live testing, a mentorship/teaming approach, a series of undercover evaluators doing on-the-job assessments, something/anything not on video.

    I have seen amazing interpreters, who don’t test well, actually leave the profession. I have seen horrible interpreters who can regurgitate the CPC and can make it through the short test process, who came out with a certification, that I would throw out of any assignment they came in to interpret for my family members. The testing process is failing our Deaf clients as well as our interpreters.

    I would love to see equal access applied to skilled interpreters with documented disabilities as well as those we serve.

    • Dennis says:

      B -

      I, too, agree that, just as we have an alternative pathway to satisfy the BA requirement, we should have an alternate pathway to certification. This would take some careful thinking and planning, however. Clearly an alternate approach would take longer than a point-in-time testing approach; but here is where we might borrow from the British experience and have a competency-based portfolio approach. Without using video, we might conceive of an approach that uses simulations that are videotaped, videotaped live work, testimonials from colleagues, etc. and are assessed by a publicly available rubric.

      The point is that while a standardized point-in-time testing approach (if we get it right!!!) might work for the vast majority of us, we should always have an alternate pathway to credentialing. The supply-demand gap demands as much; RID members who cannot process 2D images deserve as much.

      thanks for the post.


  39. Thank you, Dennis, for writing this letter and sharing it with us. I was not aware of the current situation, so thanks for enlightening me. I agree with you that, “We should definitely not advance an approach to testing that is not directly supported by empirical data on sign language interpretation,” but I would go broader and say “empirical data on interpretation” in general. Our field seems so focused on ASL and deaf culture that we forget we’re not the only ones who interpret between majority and minority languages and cultures. Interpreting is interpreting. Maybe we should be thinking about how a test could be devised to test interpreters of various languages, or how we could integrate into an existing system that seems like it’s based more upon empirical data on interpretation.

  40. Rose says:

    Hi Dennis,
    Just wondering, have you received a response to your letter? I just finished reading RID’s president’s report for May. Have you had a chance to look at it yet? It seemed to me to be making reference to your letter (although I’m sure it’s referring to other things as well). Any thoughts on this?

    • Dennis says:


      I, too, have read the president’s May report. I certainly understand the myriad issues facing the current Board, but would suggest that at least some of those issues (e.g. the current NIC) are of its own making. And while I fully appreciate the investment of time required of an all-volunteer Board (I’ve been there), for me REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS surely would include timely acknowledgment of receipt of letters sent to the Board and provision to the members of psychometric evidence for a new test BEFORE the test is implemented.

      I sent an email to the RID president a couple of weeks ago and received a response that a “comprehensive report” would be sent to me and to the RID membership in June.

      thanks for the post


  41. Shannon says:

    I’ve been reading through the recently released Status Report on the Enhanced NIC. Dennis, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this and how much of it is satisfactorily responsive to your concerns.

    • Dennis says:


      Thanks for the post and I apologize for the delay in responding. I will be sending a response to the Board in the next day or so. Not only do I believe the report is essentially non-responsive to the questions I raised, but it also raised many other issues which I have addressed in my response to the Board. I have also indicated to the Board that I plan to post it somewhere (Brandon?) two weeks after I send it to the Board. I truly believe that open, frank and non-incendiary discussion (as has generally been the case on this site) is incredibly important for a fuller understanding of the issues and a fuller realization of what is at stake.


  42. Allison says:


    I hope RID responds positively to your concerns regarding not having the ethical problem narrative/instructions available for the full time allotted for the reading of the ethical problem and the formulation of a response.

    I have heard the same thing from several interpreters. One did not actually finish reading what action the interpreter took, nor whether they were to defend or criticize the decision. Another made their best guess as to whether to defend or criticize. Additionally, they did not know whether they had the right to protest to the LTA. (I should state that they shared this info regarding the format of the test and not content!)

    I believe that the Candidate Handbook should state that there is a time frame after which the ethical problem statement will become unavailable. The way it is currently worded implies that it may be left on screen while the candidate formulates a response. At best, it is ambiguous. Candidates are understandably nervous and the head’s up would help them make sure they read the information in a timely manner. I am disheartened that candidates may risk failing the ethical portion if not the whole exam for such an easily remedied glitch. Hopefully this can be resolved for future candidates.

  43. T J says:

    I’m so happy to see this letter and all of the educated thoughtful responses. I hope I don’t ruin that now. :) I had seen so few people talking about this that I had become even more discouraged. I have been mired in the NIC certification process for a long time refusing to give up. I may be at that point now though just having failed the NIC Enhanced. I mean I know I’m not a highly skilled interpreter, I get it and I am always trying to improve. I’m even fine with RID failing me based on that, I am not fine with them passing another interpreter who has a similar skill level to mine. That is frustrating. I’m just as frustrated at the transparency issue. Most of the information I got on the new test was through Facebook not RIDs website which I find unbelievably unprofessional. Every letter or report that I read from RID says a whole lot of nothing. I read and read and couldn’t tell you by the end any useful information or even what point they attempted to make. I’m only a member now because I have to be I have lost all faith in the NIC as a credential. I think the testing process needs to recognize that we aren’t all going to be NIC master level interpreters but we are still competent and ethical. Many of us went through 2 yr ITPs after never seen a sign before. We are serving the community and doing it well. In many areas were it not for us there would be virtually no one. I don’t want to lower the bar but we need to be careful how high we raise it with out considering the training level nationwide.

  44. Daryl Crouse says:


    Your perspective and knowledge seems to always shine light where discussion needs to take place. My comment and question is from a somewhat different dynamic. RID will be hiring a new Executive Director in the coming months. In the interest of full disclosure, I am throwing my hat in the ring for the job. What role should the new ED take in this discussion, if any? How could the ED best serve the membership and the board during the dialogue?

    Looking forward to your insights.

    Daryl Crouse, CI, CT
    Long Beach, CA

  45. Venetia Lacy says:

    I have been busy reading everyone’s posts since my last entry. (I had a family emergency and have been out of reach since the May postings.) Dennis, I see where you received the information you needed regarding “who the Band of 34″ are and the plight they have had to endure. I wonder if anyone has taken the liberties of checking into the embezzlement scandle on their own? I’ve seen some of the public records and court documents myself. I would suggest others do the same and not depend upon RID to provide you with this-RID cannot release information due to the fact they are also a party in this case. I’ve also been in this profession long enough to know this is not the first time RID has had issues related to testing and validity of the exams-other tests were compromised in the past, so apparently we/RID have not learned from our past mistakes.
    In regards to the questions you posted, Dennis, to our deaf testing candidates, I agree-RID is aware of the problems with the written exam and the “ASL” version yet like the idiom “falling on deaf ears”, we/RID have not enacted any changes to the CDI testing system. I sincerely hope this will change as I’ve seen too many deaf candidates give up and walk away from RID and the profession made from their struggles.
    I recall in some of these posts some comments have been made about the tenets and professionalism of our field. In reference to the tenet 5.0 “Respect for Colleagues”; I was at the National Conference in Atlanta and a very well-known and reveered interpreter was using a videotape of interpreters from my area in a presentation-saying what the team did wrong or could had done better. I personally know, this individual did not ask or was given permission from the local interpreters to use their interpretations for this purpose. One specific interpreter (shown in the presentation) was in the audience when the video was used and contacted the main headquarters of RID to complain. The National Office response was “well… you can ask (name of interpreter) to not use the tape in the presentation but you do know that (Name of interpreter) is highly respected and valued amongst his/her professional peers.
    I am a certified interpreter and I do believe this is a membership based organization; I also believe if you’re not part of the solution, then you must be part of the problem. I understand we need to provide both our consumers with qualified interpreters (let’s always keep in mind we do not only interpret for the deaf, we have hearing consumers whose needs we need to meet too) but at what costs? What is the going price for someone’s livelihood? Redirecting back to the Band of 34-they are US/RID- where is the respect for our colleagues when we single them out and hold them to a higher standard than others? No one has been able to answer the question as to why during this particular time period- the tests were being questioned or how these 34 individuals were singled out amongst all the other testing candidates. We/RID have a lot to learn-we talk about our roots and growth during the Atlanta conference and I’ll say it again -we need to prune our own branches, weed out the discrepancies in our policies and procedures and nurture our roots so we can stand strong against the winds of change.

  46. Boscoterp says:

    I’d also question, how many interpreters were impacted by this? The letter I got said- 34. However, when viewing the announcement RID put out (, they said “36.” So is it the Band of 34, 36 or more?

    • Venetia Lacy says:

      Who actually knows… smile. I’ve seen that announcement too and caught the#36 immediately-I cannot answer your question and when it was presented to the RID office last year, they couldn’t/or wouldn’t respond at that time.

  47. Ann Boyd says:

    This discussion is very interesting-but I do wonder what this means for people like myself, currently working in the field, who are certified under the NIC? Are we not respected in the field with an “NIC” behind our name? I took this interview portion of the exam the first spring it was offered, when only 1/3 of the testees passed. I passed. Should I be proud of that, or doubt my credentials and standing the interpreting community?

    I know NAD III interpreters who have been in the field for 25 years and never retested. Should I judge them on their entry level “credentials”? I think we look at certification as a standard from which we develop further as interpreters. But all this very negative response to the test makes me wonder about people’s opinions of those who took the test and passed? comments?

    (PS not looking for support, but honest feedback as to the general feeling of other interpreters who have serious doubts regarding the NIC)

  48. Diana says:

    Dear Dennis,

    Thank you for your letter. I know your opinion of this Enhanced NIC represents the opinions of so many of us terps! I have been in the Deaf community all my life, and now am the wife of a third generation Deaf man. Both my husband and I have been professors in an ITP program for several years. As a professor, I really focus on each student being grounded in the COPC. I decided to take the NIC enhanced earlier this year – and read up on everything pertaining to the NIC enhanced that I could get my hands on. After taking the test, I was very disapointed. I told my husband that, pass or fail, that test was not a true evalution of interpreting skills. THere was no time to demonstrate many of the skills that are so vital to the job of interpreting – such as our expansion skills, prediction skills, closure skills, etc. I know that they are trying to make the test more “true to what we do out in the community”, but I also am a VRI interpreter and know that the test is not truely representing what we face on a day-to-day basis. Like as was mentioned before, I think they were trying to take a two hour test and cram it into one hour. I evaluate students every week in a classroom,and I could never truly evaluated their skills based on an exam such as that. I am not complaining because I am a disgruntled interpreter who failed. I passed the sign portion. I AM disgrunted about the ethics portion. I ground my student in the COPC every single day of class throughout the semester. Yet, after taking my exam, I recieve a letter saying that I passed the sign portion, but failed the ethics portion because I “did not follow instructios.” Since I was in the first wave of interpreters from my state to take the test, we had nothing to show us how to study – other than the handbook that said to stay away from the old rubics. I went in, read the test instructions very carefully, and answered accordingly. I feel that – if they would have even looked at my answers instead of focusing on whatever it is that we are supposed to be doing (which no one knows what that is!) they would have clearly seen that I am grounded in my ethics.

    I thought our goal was to evaluate and send out ethical and skilled interpreters? Believe me – as a wife of the Deaf – that is my goal for each student I teach! As an interpreter, that is what I have dedicated my life to. I just felt that the goal of the Enhanced NIC was not this, but rather to prove some point?……

  49. Diana says:

    I will add that I have not and will not mention this to any student I teach, because I would never want to discourage them from advancing their skills and becoming certified. Yet, how are we to train them if we, the professors, do not know what to expect?

  50. H- says:


    I am Deaf myself and my wife is a hearing interpreter herself (Level 5 in her state certification) for many years. She took the NIC Enhanced exam last summer and failed. That was a devastating blow to us because we know of some interpreters who are “average” in their interpreting skills and passed. There are plenty of other skilled interpreters including my wife who failed on the test. We are enraged about the process that is obviously flawed and RIP-OFF. Not to mention also the fact that she missed out on getting the certification and pay raise.

    Currently, my wife wants to RE-TAKE the test ASAP. I have, however, encouraged her to wait and see if the controversy surrounding the NIC Enhanced Exam rating process would be at least resolved. We are still debating whether she ought to retake the test again soon or wait.

    So my question to you is “Would you recommend for my wife to wait or go ahead take the test and try her best knowing that the process itself is flawed?” Any advice?

    Would appreciate your and another interpreters input on this.


  51. Amy says:

    I went through the ITP program in Mississippi. I made very good grades. I also have lived inside the deaf culture and have many deaf friends. I have been doing pro bono services for 20 yrs. We have problems getting certified in Mississippi cause the Interpreter Training Programs recent Instructor and family members have monopolized the business causing many hardships on the hearing impaired and interpreters that truly want to help these people. The instructor owns the place where Terps get certified. I just wish RID could see the the letter of my results. She refuses to give me a letter stating I past my written exam on code of ethics. She currently holds a CSC certification and only obtained Associates degree in 2009. We truly need help in Mississippi. I need my certification. It amazes me that she’d send me out on assignments like hospital surgeries and charge 45 hour with 2 hour minimums and not even pay me minimum wages. How is that not cheating me and robbing the consumer. I feel like everyone should have to have a bachelor degree to be nationally certified. Language is so ever changing. I will never know it all but I strive to be better daily. Needing all the help we can get in Mississippi. Good Terps needing certification and Deaf are suffering daily.

  52. Kayla says:

    Mr. Cokely,
    This open letter brought me much encouragement. I recently graduated from an ITP and, as recommended by my professors, took the NIC the summer after graduation took the NIC. And I failed. This was very frustrating for me because I have had mentors and professors tell me that my interpreting is at a level where I should have passed. Also, more than half of my fellow ITP graduates failed a test that is supposed to be an entry level test. Therefore, it was encouraging to me to see that, as backwards as it may seem, highly skilled interpreters are not only failing the test but also asking for a second look to be taken. I would like to see the research you are asking for. Thank you for your letter and I hope to see a response from RID soon.

  53. Mary says:

    I wish I could say the following is a first for me, but sadly it’s not. I again witnessed two interpreters with years of experience under their belt tell me they failed the NIC and watched a new ITP grad jump for joy because of passing. My heart sank each time. I’ve watched the experienced interpreters handle all kinds of sound imput being thrown at them and produce beautiful ASL, but now feel like a failure and question their abilities in this profession. The new grad signs like someone that has just finished an ITP and the interpreting is weak at best, but now has this false sense of being truly skilled. I don’t know what the answer is, but the way the evaluations are being done doesn’t work. The people using the services of interprets in this area have just lost out on a couple of skilled and dedicated interpreters because they won’t be able to obtain the state license.

  54. elyse schochet says:

    a little late, but i too am one of the “lucky” 34. rid kept saying that it was only 3% of rod members. then why was it so important to make us take the test again. it wasnt our fault.
    and to go from a test that was 3 hours to a one hour test is outrageous. how can you assess someone in an hour, since it seems more important that we know the sub tenets. people who have graduated from an itp know it like the back of their hand. i am not saying that we dont need to know the tenets, but what are you trying to evaluate.
    i have nad certification and it was a live test. rid needs to see interpreters in action. tapes are false. it doesnt show how you would handle situation. if you can talk but not so the walk whats the point.
    i feel that the 34 of us should be granted what our letters said.
    i completely agree with dennis.
    i have heard of people who want to start another organization because rid keeps making mistakes and we as the interpreters and the deaf community are the ones that suffer. thank you.


  55. Terp2000 says:

    I want to throw this out there and see what people say. The RID testing situation has brought questions to my my mind that have made me wonder: in our capitalist economy, what keeps companies and even non-profits honest? Competition. It also keeps prices down and improves quality. What do you think about members of the interpreting community along with respected members of the Deaf community getting together and forming a separate certifying agency? Similar to back when the NAD was offering certification. Personally, I have been in the field for 25 years and certified by NAD for over 20. I liked having that option.

    I always felt that the merge was a bad idea. Anytime you have ultimate power given to one body, there are inherent problems. You have less transparency, higher prices and a decrease in quality (as is evidenced by the current testing instrument), and worst of all, there are no options if an interpreter feels “snubbed” or unfairly treated. Other than filing complaints or making noise in other ways, what else are they to do?

    I believe that since the merge of the NAD/RID testing measures, it is clear that things are not working the way we had all hoped. It is important for us to consider providing alternatives. This would also help alleviate some of the backlog of interpreters waiting for certification testing. Currently, the wait time is unacceptable. I realize that the resources are not there to enable quick turnaround, but this is the very problem I speak of. Just because the resources are not there, does not mean that interpreters have to sit back and take it. The fact that this is even happening screams change.

    What do you think?

    • T3 says:

      I agree…I, too, have become extremely frustrated by the monopoly that RID has on testing and certification. This is one cause (starting a separate, competing organization) that I would be willing to put my time and effort into, if I knew where to start. RID holds certifications hostage, and the secretive, drawn out scoring of test is unacceptable (not to mention the poor excuse for a test, itself). You pay over $300 for a test, wait 6 months for results, and then get handed an arbitrary number with nothing to back it up but a few meaningless words (Poor, Fair, Good)?? And popular opinion seems to be (I would agree with this as well) that scores do not match up with the actual skills of the candidate, as perceived by Deaf consumers, ITP instructors, mentors, and interpreting peers. This has to stop. This organization sickens me, and I would happily sever ties with it if my credentials weren’t being held hostage by them.

  56. Jon says:

    I became nationally certified back in 2005 ACCI (great test!) and over the years have gained much skill. I decided to take the NIC performance test to try and up my level of certification from level III to level IV or V so that my pay will increase with agencies. I enrolled in a workshops during 2012. After I called RID with some questions, they informed me that the test had changed and all the rubric anchors etc were not needed and that no levels are given just pass fail. They further mentioned that I only need to defend or criticize. When I asked for clarification, they simply repeated them selves. I asked if they produced a new DVD for review or any current materials for review and they said no. They assured me it would be simple and I need not worry. I was nervous but continued my workshops and even studying and memorizing all the Code of Ethics and sub tenants and applicability verbatim with a phd physiologist to further my understanding and to be well prepared and because many of the sub tenants are very similar it can be confusing. I took the NIC performance test near the end of 2012. The test is flawed and confusing. Would have been great if their was relevant study materials. When questioning RID you will get a unanimous script they have all been educated to tell when interpreters call in and raise valid criticism denying any an all ownership of their flawed test which will decide the fate of many skilled interpreters. It is sad they have resorted to this and very unprofessional. As an already certified interpreter (2005) I failed the NIC test in 2012. I passed the performance but not the interview (not surprising with no current study materials) so I failed the whole test and now I don’t have certification. In this case I can definitively say, it’s not me, It’s RID… a new NIC performance DVD was released early Jan 2013.. When I called RID posing to be a terp not yet taking the exam. I asked them to suggest which DVD I should buy. Their answer was, “They are both relevant study materials” Hmm.. when I think about this dismissive and ad hominem type of thinking unbefitting of any reputable company, what else can any honest person feel but cheated by an company that ought to take more ownership of their mistakes. Ex. don’t allow anyone to take the test without producing a practice DVD?? Sounds logical and transparent like what other companies do.. it’s called a recall and the purchaser of the product should not be held liable or victimized or bullied with words by any company. What can be concluded, but I have “Bad Faith” in RID and with good and valid reasons… Don’t be intimidated.. demand your money back if you have paid for the test. Don’t let them assure you all is well… for this is the last breath of a dyeing company. If RID does not change their ways it will become R.I.P (Registry of Interpreters of the Past)

  57. Kimberly says:

    It really saddens me reading all these comments knowing that the RID has hurt not only interpreters but the deaf community. One thing I am struggling with is getting back into interpreting. I was an educational interpreter for many years. I decided to stay home and raise my children till they went to school. Now that they are all back in school everything has changed! Arizona is requiring so much and it is expensive! I took the EIPA 2 years ago and missed the passing score 3.5 by 1/10 of a point! I have been signing for over 19 years and very active, also being married to a deaf man. I paid to take a 3 month training. Then took my test again, feeling really good about it. I got a 3.2 this time! Just about 3 months ago with 2 schools and embezzling all the interpreters money, failing them so we would have to retest makes me wonder if there are any honest people in the world. Now a single mother of three full time I find myself trying to find work, and unemployed because my love and my job is educational interpreting. It would be nice to get grandfathered in.

  58. Daryl Crouse says:

    Dennis very eloquently laid out the case for transparency and improvement of the certification exam. I would like to add some ideas about reporting of the results and how the results could be used by ITP’s and the community at large.

    Transparency of Testing

    Information about the RID certification exam, particularly considering the test has changed several times in the past few year, is a valid member concern. Some members, feel they have very little information about the exam, while most likely the national office and examiners feel more informed. Members express a desire to be provided more information. For example, the pass / fail percentage of first time takers and repeat takers.

    Because of the previous test security breach that put the entire certification exam in jeopardy, the national office may be wary of endangering the security of the test. Generally, the public want to have more information about credentialing programs, but consideration must be given about how the information will be used and whether the information will be used. Distinguishing between legitimate areas that require clarification and requests which are merely general in nature help to keep the national office operating efficiently.

    Transparency leads to confidence

    Certified members, perhaps more than any one else, discuss a lack of confidence in the new certification exam, stemming from limited information and what is perceived to be little or no transparency. The issue of lack of confidence is unlikely to be a great concern in the everyday lives of certified members, but that does not make it less important. There is concern that information about the results of the exam is being kept quiet, weakening confidence even further.

    Because the RID exam does not have a library of versions to choose from, the organization does not have the ability to release examples of well-interpreted performance exams. Non-certified members express a desire for more detailed feedback with their results, which would increase the responsibility of graders, potentially causing longer delays to receive results.

    Developing a consistent adhered to model for information sharing about the RID certification exam can lead to greater confidence in the system. Certified members would be assured their new colleagues are ready to do the work. The Deaf community would be assured their communication would be effective and accurate. Finally, regulators would be more inclined to adopt the system as a standard written into rules and regulations.

    Pragmatic Transparency

    No doubt there is disagreement about whether or not full transparency about the RID certification test is a positive thing. Surely, some would say it is important to know more about the exam while others feel nothing constructive would be accomplished.

    RID can have a pragmatic view of transparency around the certification test; information sharing that assists members, test takers, consumers, interpreter trainers and regulators. For example, basic information about pass / fail percentage can be readily available at some agreed upon interval for publication on the website. Greater detail about first time and repeat test taker pass / fail rates would also be helpful. This information could be analyzed on a state-by-state basis. A state detail statistic would provide helpful information for consumers to assess the interpreter workforce across time.

    Additionally, statistics could be collected from test applicants to analyze the pass / fail for each interpreter training program (ITP). This is a common data point for professional tests because it provides valuable information to students considering their education options. Furthermore, programs can use their pass rates as justification for greater funding. Inevitably, there will be a few ITP’s whose graduates will consistently underperform evidenced by below average pass rates for the certification exam. Should these programs be protected solely because there is a lack of information sharing that brings a spot light on them? Reasonable people and a majority of educators would argue subpar educational programs should not be insulated by silence.


    During an election for board members, members raise concern about a variety of issues. One board member does not and cannot control the path the organization takes. However, there are possible reforms of what information is gathered, how it is analyzed and what is shared. As Secretary, I will work with fellow board members, the Executive Director, interpreter trainers and Deaf organizations to ensure pragmatic information about certification testing is available to members and the public.

    Please remember to cast your vote, Daryl Crouse for Secretary, beginning January 1, 2014.

  59. Henry Yandrasits says:

    To anyone who would like to comment,

    I thought Dennis brought up very good points. With the new Certification Report released this week by RID do you feel all of our questions have been answered? I noticed that the report commented on the fact that it would not be possible to completely replicate an actual interpreting environment, but that was all. The report did determine the validity of the test but for me that raised more concerns because I did not see anywhere in the report what would be considered and invalid test. I am also concerned with an 84% pass rate on the NIC written examination. The report determined this means the knowledge of how to function as an interpreter is present in the community but how high would this pass rate need to be before we determined that the test is too easy? Are any other thoughts?


  60. Katie Mittler says:

    I think the article was well said! I really think if you, as an interpreter are going out in the Deaf Community and interpreting for some deaf person, I think you should be certified wherever you may go throughout the world. The RID people will help you and the NIC test will also help you to get certified. So just get certified and everything will be fine.

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