Lingua What, Linguabee, That's What!

Linguabee Logo. 07/22/2014. As Linguabee makes its way around the community and becomes the topic of conversation, many people have questions about how the system works or what it entails of. Some questions that may seem important to have answered prior to the use of Linguabee have been asked and shared with those that want to know! In venture of answers, Chad Taylor, one of the founders was contacted to get these questions answered and our curiosity satisfied. The Linguabee team got together and delivered!

The understanding is that Linguabee is establishing relationships between customers and interpreters but what is the main goal Linguabee hopes to accomplish?

Linguabee wants to bring back the traditional relationship between the Deaf person and the interpreter. In the early days of the ASL interpreting field, most hearing people hired interpreters based on Deaf people’s references. Deaf people CHOSE their own interpreters and they had daily contact with them. Whenever they had feedback, they knew where to find the interpreter.

It is not true when people say the ways of agencies is traditional and our platform is new and unique. We are simply bringing back the old way -- made possible by new technology -- adding the efficiency of an agency.

Linguabee is reinventing the relationship between agencies, interpreters, and the Deaf community by returning the relationship to its roots.

Who is able to see the feedback that interpreters obtain from clients? If only the interpreter, how does that help the interpreter improve if this is more about self-accountability?

Currently, all feedback and ratings are only available to the interpreters individually. A summary of the feedback and ratings collected for an given interpreter are shared with the interpreters biweekly.

The current Linguabee feedback system is only the very first step in our Feedback and Rating System. Soon, after consulting with the community, feedback and ratings will become public on an interpreter's profile. Once this is in place, this will give the Deaf community an opportunity to make their own informed decisions whether to choose an interpreter for their appointments. This will encourage interpreters to hold themselves accountable for their professionalism, commitment to improving skills and continuing education.

Once the public feedback and ratings are in place, an interpreters' rating will be based on a moving window of the last 12 months of feedback. This gives all interpreters an opportunity to continue improving.

 Black and yellow Superterp logo with a dark grey background. 07/22/2014What are some favorite features on Linguabee and why?

I can't just pick one -- I'll share two. Favorite Lists and Feedback.

Favorite Lists: This feature gives me an opportunity to have my requests broadcasted to selected interpreters privately. Without this feature, all of my requests will be broadcasted to local interpreters, which I might have some personal conflict with that I do not want the whole interpreting community to know about. For example, if I had broadcasted a request for medical services for my wife's pregnancy, all interpreters would have known about my wife’s current pregnancy and they would look down at her tummy and smile, leaving my wife wondering why they are smiling at her tummy. By the way, my wife’s pregnancy is not a secret anymore (and Linguabee is not to blame).

Feedback: I live by this quote by Robert Allen, “There is no failure. Only feedback.”, and always will as my team and I continue to expand the system. Feedback is not about the flaws nor errors made by an interpreter. It’s about improving the communication access for the community as a whole by improving skills for individual interpreters; so that when you work again with the same interpreter they have shown improvement. All of us have reached here today with our skills by feedback, not failure, and we want the same for interpreters. We want to work with interpreters to see them become the best interpreters they can be.

I cannot speak for the whole community; but many times we, as Deaf people, often find ourselves in a position where we are unable to provide feedback. How traditional interpreting agencies work with offices, businesses, or other types of organizations often make it difficult, intentionally or unintentionally, for us to provide feedback -- especially after we go home and process what happened that day. This model limits agencies and interpreters' ability to collect feedback. It’s something I have always wanted in a long time, to be able to share feedback directly with interpreters in a safe way -- and it’s finally here!

If there are popular interpreters that are constantly demanded and taking all the assignments, how does Linguabee empower those other interpreters that are not in high demand to make a living?

Linguabee empowers interpreters by encouraging a direct relationship between all parties, generating deep ties within the Deaf community. interpreters who have sufficient skill to work generally do not encounter the issue of not getting enough work. There is also shortage of interpreting in most regions.

The agency model encourages interpreters to have a relationship with the agency interpreter coordinator and/or the agency itself rather than working with Deaf people directly. In turn, interpreters work closely with the agencies -- not the community -- to get work.

Instead; we give the interpreters tools to share themselves in video, text, and pictures. Reviewing bids has never been so much fun!

There will be always a need for communication access and the world does not stop if popular interpreters are unavailable. We have observed that Deaf people are willing to work with the next most available and qualified interpreter. This encourages interpreters to continue improving their skills to become more skilled and qualified.

Using Linguabee on a computer. 07/22/2014.

Does Linguabee have a filter system in place for those that do not receive good ratings?

We have several great ideas as to what and how we will work with those of the interpreters who do not receive good ratings. In general, we allow our customers to choose interpreters based on their profile information, including, in the future, their rating.

Building the bridge and bringing back the traditional relationship between those two communities are our primary goal. We have been working with many members of the communities on how this should be dealt with, as we want to make sure any filter functionality we implement is perfect.

I think it's great that you empower the deaf community in selecting interpreters but how does that empower the interpreter?

In a nutshell, Linguabee empowers interpreters to take jobs and make business decisions appropriate to their skill level, experience, and knowledge of the topic.

Linguabee's model allows interpreters to carefully choose assignments that they are qualified for. When a request is made by a customer, it’s broadcasted to all local interpreters. They can review the request and send the requestor a private message to inquire further to determine if it’s a good fit for them before making a bid. Interpreters can also decline any and all assignments, letting the requestor know that they cannot for whatever reason -- from not being a good fit or some other personal conflict.

In contrast, in the traditional agency model interpreter coordinators make all the decisions. This prevents interpreters from making full choices and best determine whether they are a good fit for the assignment.

Another area where Linguabee empowers interpreters is their rates. As opposed to the flat rate structures you see with agencies, interpreters can vary their rates based on what is required of an assignment. They even can give discounts (for example, for non-profits).

For those that are new in the area, how do they get a better understanding of who the interpreters are with zero access to reviews if there are none?

One great feature in Linguabee is that all interpreters have their own profiles. Whenever a requestor receives bids from interpreters, they can view their profiles to determine who would be a great fit for their requests. Interpreters can add video, text, resume, certifications, and other information to their profiles.

If reviews are available what does Linguabee do for interpreters that have had one or two situations that they weren't a good fit but are generally excellent interpreters. How does Linguabee help ensure that won't hurt their chances at getting requests for jobs?

An interpreter's rating will be based on a moving window of the last 12 months of feedback and ratings. This window will give each interpreter an opportunity to improve their score. Also, if an interpreter has had one or two situations that weren't a good fit and they have many situations where they got a good rating, it won't impact their overall rating much.

Also, for each job, we try to be sure that enough information is available to both customers and interpreters to decide to work together -- public profiles, video samples, and job categories and descriptions.

Any other comments/questions you'd like to answer for this article?

Chad Taylor's Business card. 07/22/2014.

Linguabee is ALWAYS listening to the community. If you ever have feedback or an idea, please feel free to contact us. Linguabee is not about us, it’s about Deaf having full control of communication access. We are working diligently to make that a reality for ourselves, for our children, for the members of our communities, and for you!

We are also looking for more great people to join our team and make Linguabee even better. If you have a passion for customer service, social media, or programming in Ruby on Rails, contact us!

Interviewed by Mary Pat Withem Follow her on Twitter @mpwithem