At Applied Development, being champions for communications means that we want to make sure that all people, regardless of ability, can be understood and understand others. One of the largest sections of our portfolio is American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. Our interpreters provide this service at a variety of workplaces across the country. Through our contracts, we ensure that many different people who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, including veterans and their families and employees of Federal and State agencies, can communicate effectively.
The National Association of the Deaf, the premier civil rights organization for and by Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals, has fought for the recognition of ASL as a language and as “an optimal educational tool for deaf children and adults.” ASL can convey anything spoken language can, and Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing government employees have a right to an interpreter.
ASL uses the movement, shape, and placement of hands, as well as body movements and facial expressions to express meaning. A good ASL interpreter is able to listen to a speaker and translate spoken language into ASL and then also translate ASL into spoken English. An interpreter is only truly effective if their signing and translation are clear, including with the use of specialized vocabulary.
At AD, we only hire the most qualified interpreters, who hold certifications from the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and/or state organizations. Our “Best Match” approach also ensures that interpreters have the specialized knowledge and vocabulary for a particular work environment. Over the last four years, we’ve had a 99% fill rate and currently employ more than 140 certified interpreters across the country.
When co-founders Kimberly Citizen and Biffrey Braxton were first starting Applied Development, ASL only represented a small portion of contacts. While there were lots of small consulting firms offering IT services to government offices, they learned that there were very few well-qualified firms providing ASL interpretation. For Kimberly and Biffrey, this service offered more than just a market opportunity.
In starting AD, they wanted to create a different kind of government contracting business, where employees and clients’ needs matter. They also felt determined to incorporate a spirit of service and volunteerism into their business. Providing reasonable accommodations like ASL interpretation fit perfectly with that broader vision. “We revisit our core values, mission, and vision every year to ensure that we are staying true to who we claim to be,” says Kimberly. “We ask for feedback about those values to ensure they are still applicable for where we are in the business and who we want to be moving forward.”
Today, ASL interpretation represents a large share of AD’s total revenues, and the entire staff is proud to be able to make sure that clients are providing Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing employees the resources they need to succeed in the workplace.