Hello. I am Anna Witter-Merithew, Interim Executive Director of RID. In that role, I expect to work here at RID for a finite period of time – 9 months, 10 months, or so. During that time, RID will search, screen, and then select the new permanent Executive Director.
Because my work at RID is limited in terms of the duration of time, I have not done any Vlogs. I have respected the limited scope of my role, and I do not wish to represent as the face of RID. I recognize and respect the wonderful Board of Directors, your duly elected representatives, who are more appropriate for regular or new Vlogs on important events.
However, the RID VIEWS was recently distributed to all members. In that issue, I authored the IED report, and in that, I mentioned the Testing and Certification Risk Assessment. Upon their receiving the magazine, I was contacted by several members asking for further explanation of “risk assessment” – what does it mean, and why was it established? At their request and urging, I am now sharing a more detailed explanation for anyone interested in knowing more about the process.
Since I joined RID, many challenges and questions related to testing and certification have arisen. I have tried diligently to find answers and solutions to these questions but unfortunately, many of the questions do not have ready answers.
So, the goal of the Risk Assessment is to try to capture a high-level, big-picture view of the issues. RID is responsible for the testing and certification of interpreters, and this will be an analysis of the risks and impact of this involvement. There are risks that are fiscal, organizational, administrative, political, legal, and legislative in nature. There are laws that have passed in many states. The entire testing and certification process needs to be reviewed, and the purpose of this risk assessment is to address the risks, issues, and questions in a holistic manner.
The Certification Committee has been hard at work trying to meet the requirements for obtaining NCCA accreditation for our test and certification. As a part of that process, we must satisfy a number of standards. One of these standards is related to the certification and testing decision-making process, which should be autonomous. A decision to create greater autonomy in decision-making will impact RID in various ways. It impacts governance–possibly changing who makes decisions about certification. It impacts our bylaws, among other things such as, our finances, our organizational structure, laws and legislation, our history, and other similar considerations. These aspects of testing and certification that comprise our socio-political context deserve a full analysis with a holistic perspective, rather than limiting ourselves to a limited perspective based on the status quo. So, this risk assessment will allow us to determine answers to some fundamental questions.
Testing and certification have been a huge part of our RID history, as well as our work as an organization. RID over the years has grown and faced (and faces) numerous challenges. RID is now involved in a range of programs and services–not just testing and certification. At the same time, we know that testing and certification will continue to require significant time, staff, and fiscal resources. We also know that RID’s political agenda is heavily influenced by testing and certification. However, we have committed to more with a range of member services, publications, advocacy at the state, national, and international levels, and the list goes on. So, within this framework, now is a critical time for us to take a high-level, holistic view of testing and certification and determine the overall impact to RID of these competing priorities, both immediately and in the future. We need to determine if RID can sustain all that it does in light of the legal, fiscal, and administrative obligations that accompany testing and certification. That is the purpose of this risk assessment – to analyze these issues and collect information.
The result of this information gathering is to give the Board, HQ staff, the members, and our stakeholders the information needed to make informed decisions that affect the future.
Another aspect of this work is to consider that testing and certification are also issues that concern NAD. We have historically been affiliated with NAD for testing and certification. During our discussions with NAD, we have both come to see that we need a better business model for the operation of testing and certification. We have not yet begun to analyze what that business model could be. Before we can do that, we need answers to fundamental questions such as, “What business models exist and how could they be operationalized?” “What other examples are there for offering testing and certification through a collaborative model?” “What principles and practices could we borrow and apply to make our system successful and the outcomes more satisfactory to both NAD and RID?”
We also know that there exist some philosophical divisions within our membership. Some feel strongly about having testing and certification become autonomous from the current organization – a completely separate organization. They feel there is a conflict of interest in that we provide testing and certification and simultaneously advocate for the hiring of certified interpreters. That creates a perceived conflict of interest. So, our membership has been discussing division of the organization for sometime, but we do not have a clear understanding of how such a division might work. We do not know who might take on the responsibility of the testing when it becomes autonomous. What will that process look like and how will it work? What are the implications on the finances of the organization, how will that affect the laws that are currently in place related to the testing and certification of interpreters and licensure laws? There are a number of issues and many different questions related to this aspect of our socio-political context.
When I joined RID as the Interim Executive Director and was confronted with a wide range of challenges related to testing and certifications, I realized that I did not have enough information to be able to provide leadership or direction. So, I asked the Board if they would support me working with a few advisers to do a thorough risk assessment from a holistic viewpoint. Again, we just don’t want to proceed with the status quo without a more informed and comprehensive appreciation of the risks involved. We have a duty to the law, to existing legislation that has been passed, to licensure, and to our members who are already certified. We need to look at our fiscal ability to sustain and continue to invest money that is not easily available to cover the costs of developing tests, as well as our efforts to rise to standards required by the NCCA. If the structure is to change, we also need to examine the transition process between what we have now and what it would become. There are many aspects to this analysis.
The consultants involved will represent different areas of expertise–law, finance, business, testing and certification, and association management. They will advise me in the preparation of the risk assessment report to be submitted to the board, due on November 1st.
With that report in hand, the Board can decide what to share with members, what to share with staff, and then start to make some decisions for the future.
As we continue to move further down the road with the assessment, periodic updates will be provided.