StreetLeverage-Live: A Water Cooler Upgrade for Sign Language Interpreters

Water Cooler in the Sign Language Interpreting ProfessionAs most sign language interpreters will readily admit, much of the meaningful dialogue they have on the developments within the field occur at the water coolers of the profession—“small talk” sessions with a colleague.

If you are reading this post, you are likely aware, that it is the plight of StreetLeverage to offer interpreters a platform to elevate these conversations into the broader consciousness of the industry.

Underneath the Imperfection

This isn’t news to anyone, but the work occurring with StreetLeverage to amplify these conversations isn’t a perfect work. If you look, not particularly hard, you will find typos, incorrectly sized images, grammatical mistakes, questionable video quality and the like.

Having said that, if you look beyond the platform and it’s imperfection you will find something special; the authentic desire sign language interpreters have to share and genuinely dialogue to the betterment of their field.

This desire leads people to give freely of their time to write articles and initiate and enrich discussions by adding perspective and experience.

These contributions are remarkable.

StreetLeverage – Live

In an effort to honor this authentic desire and extend the platform available to interpreters to dialogue on topics and ideas relevant to the field, I am please to announce the second phase of StreetLeverage, StreetLeverage – Live.

StreetLeverage – Live is a thought leadership event designed to bring together industry visionaries, leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and practitioners to share ideas that foster proactive thinking and dialogue in order to propel the field of sign language interpreting forward.

How Does it Work?

Main Session

The StreetLeverage – Live main session is modeled after the TED speaker series. Meaning, attendees will be engaged by a series of speakers, topics, and live dialogue in a single primary session.

Concurrent Sessions

Following the main session, speakers will present concurrent sessions. These sessions will be a deeper dive of a speaker’s main session talk.

Inaugural Event

I am excited to share that the inaugural StreetLeverage – Live event is scheduled to occur November 10, 2012.  The event has been embedded within the PCRID annual conference being held November 9 – 11, 2012.  Click here for details.

I would like to offer my appreciation for Josh Hughes and Jennifer Bell, PCRID Conference Chairs, and their vision for the conference. You guys are doing yourselves and PCRID proud!

Progressive Thinkers

Lyle Vold, Brad Leon, and Ryan Leon 




In addition to the PCRID conference leadership, it’s the progressive perspective of people like (left to right above) Lyle Vold, Brad Leon, and Ryan Leon on giving back to the sign language interpreting profession that enables game changers like StreetLeverage—Live to get started.  As owners of Access Interpreting, and as interpreters, they see true value in open dialogue on issues facing the field.

A hearty thanks to each of them for their leadership, generosity and support of the PCRID conference to enable StreetLeverage—Live to become a reality.

In the End

I have no delusion that StreetLeverage – Live will be perfect work either. With that said, it is my hope that it can play a role in redefining and expanding the platform available to sign language interpreters to engage in meaningful dialogue on the issues we face as a field.

If you have suggestions on how to improve StreetLeverage – Live, or for that matter, I welcome your feedback.


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About the Author

Brandon is a nationally certified sign language interpreter and passionate industry entrepreneur. He has worked on both the practicing and business sides of the industry for the past 15 years. His father is deaf and his mother is a sign language interpreter. He is a devoted father and husband and enjoys the sport of triathlon.

21 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Mike Ernest says:

    Brandon – What you are bringing to the table is ideas, opinion, real-life experience and controversy.Sometimes it’s not pretty or perfect. Sometimes it is emotional. Just like a real conversation.

    The conversations that appear on StreetLeverage reflect the need of our field/industry to engage in meaningful dialogue. I no longer believe that Interpreter education can keep up with the rapid changes in our profession/field/industry. Practicioner dialogue after educational training may be the future of how we will share information.

    I act as mentor to a number of emerging interpreters. They are required to read StretLeverage in order to understand the issues that concern working interpreters.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Mike,

      Thanks for your comment and encouragement.

      We obviously agree that meaningful dialogue after educational training is a key component to the future of how we share information as a field. ☺

      Regarding your comment that interpreter education can’t keep pace with the rapid change within the field, I agree if you are referring to experiential prerequisites necessary to do an effective job as a sign language interpreter.

      With that said, I don’t think it is only education that struggles to prioritize these experiential prerequisites. I believe it is the entirety of the stakeholders within the field (i.e. associations, employers, academia, etc.).

      Let’s be honest though, it’s a tough decision to prioritize and recognize experiential learning when confronted with fiscal, regulatory, and political pressure. It’s complicated, expensive and labor intense.

      To me, it boils down to a choice. The choice we make as practitioners and consumers by choosing not to prioritize our own response to this poor prioritization and recognition experiential learning (i.e. if we need outlets that support the continued experiential learning within the field, lets not wait for someone else to assemble them).

      Unfortunately, the choice has a cost and not a small one. The cost, as it occurs to me, is the incremental migration away from the core values that make a sign language interpreter valuable to the Deaf Community.

      If StreetLeverage can play a role to slow the systematic dismantling of what makes an interpreter valuable to the Deaf community (by amplifying the voice of the concerned and those sharing practical and experiential knowledge), I will consider StreetLeverage having achieved its aim.

      Perfect or not, we’ll keep after it.

      Again, thanks for your comment and sharing StreetLeverage with those you mentor.


  2. Stacey webb says:

    Love this idea! I also am in love with Ted Talks…. You are pioneering the way for excellent conversations and a positive avenue to praise what we have done right in our profession and look forward to what we need to change and improve.

    • Stacey,

      Thanks for your excitement. I, too, have a TED addiction. ☺

      Pioneering? You are too kind.

      It is my belief that StreetLeverage-Live will introduce a change to the traditional model of bringing interpreters together. A format that will promote proactive thinking, authentic dialogue, and (I hope) inspire people beyond the apathy so rampant within the field.

      You make an important point to focus StreetLeverage-Live, and the blog for that matter, on both the things that we have done well and the things we need to improve on as a profession.

      Thanks for your comment and recent article, Stacey.


  3. Perfection is overrated. Congratulations on StreetLeverage and keep up the good work.

    • Indeed, Daniel, perfection is overrated.

      Unfortunately, my mind seems unable to let it go as something that should be attained :(. Maybe a psychologist is in order?

      Thanks for your encouragement and regular participation on StreetLeverage.


  4. A huge BRAVO and congrats to you Brandon! As an interpreter practitioner and educator, I am finding this venue a valuable teaching and learning tool. Your foresight in bringing us together in this virtual environment is likely more impactful than we are fully aware of right now. Know that your labour of love has been well received and is supported by many. Thank you for your courage in providing a stage for our voices to be heard.


    • Amy,

      Thanks for your kind words and encouragement.

      I am pleased to know that you and others are finding StreetLeverage to be a useful teaching and learning tool. Admittedly, I hadn’t even considered this as a possibility when originally coming up with the concept. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s one of my favorite parts. ☺

      I appreciate your expression of gratitude regarding the courage it takes to provide and maintain a platform like StreetLeverage.

      Admittedly, I have endured some significant criticism and negative press, to the point where my employer received a call suggesting I was bad for their business (thanks to a special and progressively minded supervisor who sees the value in the work going on with the site).

      All of that aside, I find tremendous satisfaction in supporting opportunities for interpreters to share their perspectives and experience. As stated above, I am hopeful that StreetLeverage-Live will only add to the amplification power of the effort and extend opportunity to more of the many voices that need to be heard within the field.

      Thanks for your comment, Amy!


  5. Pam says:

    Well, dang.. I am going to the Georgia RId Conference.let me know what’s up for the next one!!! Thanks for doing this. As a long time professional interpreter.. We are so into a need for an alternative platform it’s like a cold glass of water .. It brings a refreshing relief.

  6. laurie shaffer says:

    As an interpreter and also an artist, I know there is no thing as perfection and believe that to achieve perfection is to stagnate. We as a profession can hardly afford to stagnate but instead need to continually engage in a creative process that improves our profession and our relations with the Deaf community. Street Leverage is an invaluable resource and I am more than impressed with your efforts. I hope to be to Street Leverage Live.

    • Laurie,

      Thanks for your comment here.

      Did you see my note above to Mike about my potentially needing a psychologist to overcome my plight for perfection? ☺

      I absolutely appreciate what you are saying about avoiding stagnation by engaging in a process that encourages us to be introspective and contribute our brainpower to the betterment of the field. We have too much at risk to be apathetic.

      I am hopeful that StreetLeverage-Live can be one of the outlets available to interpreters that stimulates the creative thinking of the many talented people (whether they are aware of it or not) within the field.

      I hope to see you in November or future events!


  7. Breanna Andrews says:

    I love the idea! I am a fan of TED and can’t wait to see StreetLeverage – Live. You should create an app so people can watch these talks on their phones too :)

    • Breanna,

      Its nice to know that I am not alone in my addiction to TED! :)

      An app, eh?

      I hope there will be a day where something like that is possible. Do you have a suggestion on a low cost option?


  8. Hi Brandon….
    We follow your Street Leverage activities at The Sign Language Company and sometimes wonder when you find time to actually “work” as an interpreter! Your topics are always unique and relevant. We’ll be sharing this information with our network and we applaud you for venturing into brand new territory. If we can assist or participate in any way, please let us know.

  9. Evelyn,

    As you know from your own blogging endeavors, putting something out consistently, never mind interesting, requires some heavy and dedicated lifting. And that lifting doesn’t occur without the corresponding sacrifices.

    Thanks for your willingness to share StreetLeverage-Live with your network. It’s the willingness of folks like you to share StreetLeverage with your personal and professional networks that makes it valuable to the masses. No sharing = less rich and less interesting dialogue.

    Regarding participating and supporting the StreetLeverage-Live effort, I will definitely keep you in mind. I am sure that I will need help as the effort unfolds.

    I imagine it to be your rushing in to help me control the tiger that I have by the tail. You still up for it?


  10. Sherry Smith says:

    Hello Brandon,

    I am very grateful for the opportunity you gave to me to share part of my story on Street Leverage as an interpreter in the minority. I hope the best for Street Leverage Live. It can be used in a very educational way, and with that being said, I hope you can even be accredited to give CEUs to those who participate in the workshops.

    Since interpreters can receive CEUs from webinars, or from giving reports about various educational dvds, etc…why not gain CEUs from interactive educational workshops. I also feel that fair minded interpreters would also readily pay to participate in various interactive workshops online or even moreso in person! I can see Street Leverage Live becoming a big part of continuing education for sign language interpreters.

    Many of the topics on Street Leverage can have workshops made from just the titles alone, not to mention the actual stories. I can see Street Leverage Live as a company that gives traveling workshops and online webinars. Many agencies would sponsor these workshops, and many interpreters are looking for interesting and informative workshops to attend.

    Street Leverage Live can even be used to help sign language interpreters worldwide! Its true we are not perfect…not yet. I honestly feel that you and your family and sincere people worldwide will have the opportunity to gain it though! So keep striving for perfection…never give up!

    • Sherry,

      Thanks for your comment, recent contribution to the site, and support of StreetLeverage.

      StreetLeverage–Live does have access to a CEU sponsor. So, at the point that StreetLeverage–Live evolves into its own stand-alone event, continuing education credit through RID shouldn’t be a difficulty. As a result of the inaugural event being embedded within the PCRID annual conference, CEUs are being processed through the conference.

      I appreciate your view that the content on and the coming StreetLeverage–Live is something that interpreters would “readily” pay to access. In trusting that the amplification factor of free is stronger than that of any pay-per-view model, I don’t anticipate requiring a fee for people to consume and/or interact on the many topics and discussions on, whether that is articles, interviews, the coming talks, etc.

      With that said, there is a significant cost to putting on live events. So, at such time as StreetLeverage–Live evolves into its own standalone event(s), I anticipate some type of registration fee being required help offset those costs.

      I do hope you are right that StreetLeverage is/can be a support to sign language interpreters worldwide. There are limited numbers of us in any one geographic area and coming together to share our voices and perspective will only strengthen the whole.

      Here’s to never giving up!


  11. Nancy Riley says:

    From another Street Leverage fan…I too am using “homework” from Street Leverage in an upcoming class that will practice decision making latitude….The quality of the articles is unlike any other resource I know. Thanks for doing it.

    • Nancy,

      Thanks for joining the discussion.

      I am pleased to know that you are finding the content useful for your students (I am making an assumption from your comment).

      As mentioned to Amy above, it is very satisfying to know that those working to train interpreters are finding the works of those contributing to the StreetLeverage beneficial in bringing up the next generation of practitioners.

      As Mike commented above, practitioner dialogue after educational training will prove to be increasingly valuable to the field. Clearly, I believe that whole-heartedly.

      If there is something that you believe will enhance this aspect of the site, please send along your thoughts via the contact page. I would be highly interested.

      Thanks for participating!


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