May 9, 2022

From CODA to Professional ASL Interpreter with Lanette Pinkard

From CODA to Professional ASL Interpreter with Lanette Pinkard

Mai Ling and James are bringing a great interview for you this week. Our guest is professional American Sign Language interpreter and coach, Lanette Pinkard, who grew up as a child of deaf adults (CODA). Lanette has been the lead interpreter of teams...

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Mai Ling and James are bringing a great interview for you this week. Our guest is professional American Sign Language interpreter and coach, Lanette Pinkard, who grew up as a child of deaf adults (CODA). Lanette has been the lead interpreter of teams for high-profile events all over the world and is the founder of My Hands Your Heart, LLC, a team of master interpreters specializing in customized ASL services for all types of organizations. Lanette talks with James about her experiences as a CODA, how they inspired her to pursue ASL as a career, how she launched her coaching services, and more. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear about this inspiring journey!

Contact Mai Ling: MLC at

Contact James: James at




Mai Ling, Lanette Pinkard, James Berges,


Lanette Pinkard 00:00

As a child starting from kindergarten or not because you started in kindergarten, you become self-conscious about signing in front of people, you become embarrassed because they made a spectacle, they made you a spectacle.


James Berges 00:20

You're listening to the Xceptional Leaders Podcast each week, we give you a front row seat to our conversations with new and successful entrepreneurs, and thought leaders making an impact in the special education and disability communities. They share their intimate experiences, so you can start grow and expand your impact. I'm James Berges of


Mai Ling 00:40

And I'm Mai Ling Chan and you can find me at And we have a very interesting interview today with Lynette Pinkard, talking about being a person who is living in a world where being deaf is not as fully accepted as we would like. James's interview is just an incredible deep dive into a lifelong experience and this is coming on the heels of the award winning movie CODA. So there's a lot to unpack with this and I know you're gonna love it as our as our audience. But before we get there, let's talk a little bit about what James and I have been up to this week. James, do you want to share?


James Berges 01:17

Yeah, not too much to report on the professional front just to work in art and hardly work in as they say. But I went snowboarding this weekend, which is always the highlight for me and is the last of the season. So I wasn't expecting to be snowboarding today we're recording. It's April 27. I live in Southern California. And so they just dumped a bunch of snow and Mammoth Mountain and I was like, I gotta get up there for one last go and it was so fun. I don't know, if you mai ling you do any. Like, I'm not like the most action oriented person. But sometimes I need to get into my body to get out of my head and getting those flow zones. And that's what I love about snowboarding, you know, you're just going just fast enough, where you're not going to wreck and hurt yourself. But you're getting out of your head and getting that flow state. I love that.


Mai Ling 02:08

Yeah, that's fantastic. I do yoga. I was doing it sporadically over the years. And now I'm consistently about three, four times a week and oh my gosh, it's essential. So yes, I highly recommend any any type of movement activity where you can just disengage.


James Berges 02:22

Yeah, especially because we live in this world of staring at screens a lot. So getting outside that felt felt really good. And speaking of not just talking on screens, I know Ma i Ling, you you spoke in real life at Arsha. How was that?


Mai Ling 02:40

Oh, it was incredible. Definitely a bucket list item, which I didn't realize I was moving towards James, you know, I kind of thought it was a couple years off. So when the conference committee reached out and asked me to be an invited speaker, to talk about leadership, oh my gosh, it was just, it was amazing. And being there in person and getting to talk about all of the things that I've been working on and, and incorporating into my work, just spotlighting all of my authors and their stories, and also shaping that into an activity that the people who are attending could move through like recalling why they became speech therapists, you know, getting that warm, fuzzy feeling, sharing stories of, you know, people who have touched our lives as clients or family members, and then moving forward to our own strengths, and how we can wake up on Monday, you know, and feel re energized and want to make a difference. So I had fun, I got a lot of great feedback from people and I'm hoping that I get the opportunity to do this on a national and hopefully international level too. Because I, I feel like I've really touched a nerve, especially in a time of like burnout and disenchantment, you know, with what we've been doing in the last two years.


James Berges 03:50

Totally. Yeah, that's amazing that you've got to connect with people in that way. And it's funny, the audience you can't see this, but Mai Ling is recording she's improvising. And I think your your mid move. So it's like not ideal conditions. But I think that's part of being an exceptional leader. Is being adaptable, right. So.


Mai Ling 04:11

Exactly. I'm calling this my hot mess room right now.


James Berges 04:15

Are you are you done moving? Are you in the process?


Mai Ling 04:18

No, everything's here and it's just a matter of unpacking and then we're also doing a lot of renovations and so you know, where things are is temporary, so it's gonna be a little bit a little messy for a couple months. And that's a little crazy for my A type OCD personality.


James Berges 04:31

We will we will overcome I believe in you.


Mai Ling 04:34

Thank you.


James Berges 04:35

Yeah, good luck. I know that's not fun, but it will be over soon. I think. Another new story. I don't know if you heard this, but I want to pronounce his name right. Hari Srinivasan sorry, that's a hard name for me. But he does he he's a minimally speaking autistic person. He has oral motor apraxia he's the first minimal speaking autistic as he says to win In a prestigious Paul and Daisy sorrows fellowship for New Americans. So basically with that means is he's going to receive $90,000 to fund his PhD studies in neuroscience, and a minor in disability studies at Vanderbilt University. So someone with minimal speaking abilities using AAC, you know, his story, he was grew up, people didn't have much expectations of him. Unfortunately, they put that stigma on him of "oh, if you're minimally speaking, you also must have some sort of intellectual disability". But then he writes these really elegant and eloquent research papers. So it's really cool to see he's breaking that barrier of, you know, not just for autism, but for AAC and minimal speaking people to say "hey, I have a lot to say here. I just can't say it verbally. So give me a chance".


Mai Ling 05:54

Excellent. Yes. So good. I'm so glad you're sharing the story.


James Berges 05:58

Yeah, and then speaking of sharing their stories, our interview this week, Lynette Pinkard, as you mentioned at the top, she was a CODA, so a "child of deaf adults", she grew up with her grandparents and her story was amazing. I think you're gonna love this interview everyone who's listening because she went through so much adversity of being that middle connector between the deaf world and the speaking world. So we recorded this just after coda, one best picture and primarily deaf cast, best actor was a deaf man. And so it's all in this cultural zeitgeist of our awareness of the Deaf culture is growing as the mainstream culture. But it wasn't always that way. In the 60s, she was bullied a lot in they used to say "Oh, your grandparents are, are deaf and dumb", you know, such a crass term.


Mai Ling 06:53

Unbelievable that that was all accepted, then.


James Berges 06:56

Yep. And so she actually would fight back and argue with them, like Don't call my grandparents, deaf and dumb. You don't know anything about that. Because she stood up for her grandma, she got called into the office had to have a meeting. And her grandma was there. And she had to interpret for her grandma and the person who was bullying her. So not only was she standing up for a grandma, but she had to be the interpreter because they didn't provide one. And it's just this backdrop of, she really had to, to adjust and mold these perceptions of what it means to be deaf and she went on to from working at McDonald's all the way to translating for Nelson Mandela, to founding her own company, where she trains interpreters to go on cruise lines. And so it's just really cool. She has this broad reaching perspective of the culture, personally and professionally.


Mai Ling 07:46



James Berges 07:48

So I know you're gonna love this episode with Lynette but first, before we listen to that, I would encourage you to follow us on social media. We're on Instagram where we're gonna share highlights and clips. So even if you can't listen to the whole episode, you're gonna get those nice, juicy nuggets of insight. So follow us on there.


Mai Ling 08:05

Excellent. And I hope that you enjoy the episode. Let's get to it.


James Berges 08:09

Let's do it. I'm joined today by two wonderful guests. My main guest is Lynette Pinkard. She's the child of deaf adults, a CODA and she's visionary, a professional interpreter for 42 years, creates resolutions for organizations to be more inclusive to the deaf community and their employment, advertising, social media platforms, founder and CEO of my hands, your heart and crews interpreter academy where she trained sign language interpreters to serve on cruises and international travel with large or small groups of deaf travelers. It's also the author and 23 grandchildren. Is that right? 23? Yes. I had to throw that in there, because that's amazing. And we're also joined by Mrs. Andrea Lust, who is a professional interpreter, who's regular interpreter for people like Kelly Clarkson and the Oscars. So I'm a bit starstruck and I want to thank you both for being here.


Lanette Pinkard 09:13

Oh, it's so great to be here. Thank you so much for happiness.


James Berges 09:16

Absolutely. So I want to dig into a lot and when we're recording this, you know, CODA just won Best Picture made history for the first film with primarily deaf actors and actresses to win Best Picture as well as first professional actor to win Best Actor. So this is an exciting time. But I want to start with Lynette your backstory, you know, as a as a hearing person. I'm a speech language pathologist. I know a little bit about ASL in the deaf community, but everyone's childhood is different. Can you just tell us a bit about what was like growing up as a CODA, a child of deaf adults?


Lanette Pinkard 09:54

Well, it was I was raised by my grandparents, so they're still deaf adult so I'm still a CODA and they were the President and Vice President of the only black deaf club in Detroit, Michigan. And with that, they were influencers, what we call influencers today, my grandmother was because deaf, deaf people were at our house 24/7 just all the time, they even come to our house, like three o'clock in the morning. With marital or relationship problems, being the only hearing person in the house, I've had to wake them up so they could get the door. And I will go downstairs with them. And they will come in and they are arguing and my grandmother was sitting in cost of them till five and six and seven in the morning, and I would just sit there and watch them, you know, watch her, tell them, you know, forgive and just love. And that's a small thing. It's not worth it. And just, you know, I didn't know it then. But because of who she is, who she was, and how she was with so many people, she put this heart that I have that is a visionary to bring resolution to a lot of issues in the deaf community and with sign language interpreters and companies being inclusive. She was the inspiration for me. Yeah, when that as I grew up, I had a I had bullying happened to me once there was a producer and I don't even remember much about it other than they came to my grandmother and said, we found out that you have you're raising a deaf child, and we want to film it. So it was called upper bound or something like that back in the early 70s. And they fill me in school, fill me coming home on the bus fill me in a typical day. And after that I had been bullied. I was bullied as a result and it was common for other children when they saw me talking with my grandparents in school to come and put their hands in my face and tease me with the sign language and, and things like that, you know, so that was typical for us. But growing up, it wasn't a typical childhood.


James Berges 12:05

Right? Yeah, it's kind of it's speaking to every person's childhood seems typical to themselves. Because it's sort of like a fish in water, you don't know the water you're surrounded with until you are taken to the surface or to a different environment. Thank you for sharing that story and I'm wondering, was there a point where you felt that contrast of I am living between two worlds. For example, I heard the actor from coda saying that the hearing communities and Deaf communities are sort of separate and the coda is the bridge between the two between the deaf and the hearing communities. So did you feel like you were a bridge pressure to sort of being the one translating? And, you know, how did that affect? I feel like you would have to grow up faster. In a way, I'm not sure how you felt.


Lanette Pinkard 12:54

That's absolutely true. Especially growing up in the 60s and early 70s, when the deaf community didn't have access to what they call as Video Relay Services where they can make phone calls themselves. They didn't even have the TTY until later on in my childhood. And so the dependency being raised, even though I wasn't an only child, I was raised as an only child and being that you're the only hearing person in house, Yes. My grandmother had to go to the doctor. They had to have appointments with the tax people they had to when they wanted to get aluminum siding on the house. I was it. I was the interpreter. And that's at a young age. I recall calling the doctor's office trying to make an appointment for my grandmother, and the nurse, who are the receptionist who kept answering the phone kept hanging up on me because I was a child calling to get an appointment and they told me stop playing. Stop playing on the phone flick that comment and you know, one of the most memorable things is a lesson that my grandmother taught when I just growing up through all throughout school teachers will put me on display and say her parents are deaf and dumb. Her grandparents are deaf and dumb, and she knows sign language, which as a child starting from kindergarten or not because it started in kindergarten, you become self conscious about signing in front of people. You become embarrassed because they made a spectacle they made you a spectacle. So by the time I got to high school, I was in an advanced program for typing at a college even though I was in high school, and the person over it kept referring to my grandmother as "oh here your grandmother is deaf and dumb and deaf and mute". And she said it one time too many. I blew my top border out and she kicked me out the program. And she said if you want to be back in this program, which I did, then you need to bring her in here we're gonna have to talk so I went home to my grandmother and she wasn't too disturbed, but she wasn't happy. So we were in the with the next day at the program with her, there is no interpreter assessable because they didn't, you know, they didn't have it wasn't 1990 when the American Disabilities Act was passed so until then, this was in the late 70s, I had to interpret this meeting between my grandmother and this person who made me so angry and so I'm telling her everything this lady is saying vehemently towards me and after I get through my grandma who looks at me, she said, I always taught you to respect your elders, no matter what. You always respect your elders, and I'm sitting there, and I'm tearing up, and I'm crying because it was in defense of my grandmother. She's not dumb. I've watched her accomplish all these things and when my grandmother got through, scolding me, she turned to this lady and she said "Do you know me? She said, You don't know me, do you?" And the lady's like, because my grandmother could speak? and the lady's like "no". "Then why would you call me dumb? How do you think it makes people feel when you refer to them as dumb? And because you don't know me, you're out of order?" And I was like YES!!! Yes, but she, she never said it was okay to disrespect her, because she disrespect my grandmother. And that's one thing I've carried with me.


James Berges 16:31

Wow, wow. It's an amazing story and it just shows that you know, your grandma's instill these values in you of respect at every level and I can only imagine it's hard to interpret while you're angry to to someone who's bullying you. That sounds horrible andmoments like those, I feel like our turning points. Did you always feel like you wanted to work professionally with deaf people? or I would feel like I experienced like that might make you want to go the other way. Like, I don't have too much emotion around this. I don't want to work in this community as to personal. Yeah. What was that point for you? Where you're like, Yes, this is what I want to do.


Lanette Pinkard 17:12

It was it was to the first thing in my mind, because I didn't really have friends. My grandparents was strict and I wanted friends, I wanted to see what it was to hang out, you know and so I did not, I did not see my life going this way where my heart and soul would be into interpreting that in the beginning, at 18 years old I got a job at McDonald's. We got robbed the first day and my boss got hit in the face the second day, and I left. I'm driving up the street, I had a car and driving up the street and I see this sign, DHSC - Deaf Hearing and Speech Center and out of curiosity, I went in there to ask them, "What do you do?" and they said "Do you know how they interpret?" I said, Yes, my grandparents are deaf, they raised me and she said, You're hired and that's how I became an interpreter. I didn't even know that was a paid job. As an interpreter. I did not even know that I was 18 years old and so I took that and I began interpreting the first job I had was 40 hours a week in a Psych Hospital. No training, anything and so my start was really humbling in terms of I didn't know, ethics, I did not know you know about being on time about, I'm not making someone look at you, if you're assigning and they're not paying attention to you, I didn't have all of those things and so throughout life, because I did try to run from it. I just had a situation where I was married, and a deaf client, who became deaf later on, and lost all his friends, I became an interpreter for hi andhe ended up being obsessed with me and he was stalking me, and so having that type of experience does kind of scare you away from wanting to interpret. But again, back then you didn't know how to have the boundaries you did not have I didn't have the ethical training. You know, I only hit the culture. Because I signed first before I could speak and I had to go to speech therapy classes when I first got in school, because I'd mimic what I heard, right?


James Berges 19:23

Oh, yeah.


Lanette Pinkard 19:23

Yeah, all those type of things contribute to our background growing up and the turning point for actually loving to interpret was when they put me on stage at 19 years old to interpret for Mandela. I can't even remember what year that was with, I think was in the 90s Mandela came to Tiger Stadium in Detroit and that was one of the interpreters and just interpreting and being able to give the world something like that, you know, sitting on stage with Mandela and the pistons and Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, and all of them were there was, that was like, I was young. I was like, wow, what am I doing here? No. And it was amazing. It was amazing and I realized that this is something that is deeper than what I want, what I see and what I think.


James Berges 20:18

Oh, love that. It's powerful. So you're with Mandela, you go from McDonald's, or you go from childhood, where you just immersed in it to McDonald's to that and it kind of reminds me of like, children who are bilingual who grow up and maybe, you know, I worked with students who are from Mexican households, and spanish as their first language when they study Spanish in school. You know, the formalities and writing and reading are much different from the culture that they grew up with. So with that in mind, can you just briefly tell us a little bit about ASL? You know, I'm sure some of the audience is curious about dialectical differences is ASL sort of the same in most places and also, I'm personally interested in how that works in a psychiatric hospital, or different situations, what are some considerations with ASL across cultures or situations?


Lanette Pinkard 21:11

Well, let's start from when I had the speech therapy, I only needed the for a little while, once I learned that the enunciation is different from what is heard in my home, I was able to take off because typically, we actually learn more, for example ball, if you're teaching a hearing child about a ball, you say ball, and you you know, have the ball in your hands. But when you're teaching sign language to children, you're doing BALL as a sign language, you're teaching spelling "B A L L" and you teaching what it is. So we're actually getting more. And so once the speech connected, that I was in advanced classes, you know, going off to school, so that's one thing, working in a psych hospital, someone who has a mental illness challenges, their language is still there, depending on when they, you know, they had it. But back in that day, if someone had an emotionally or mentally challenged child, they didn't have all the resources that they have now to help them to be well rounded. So for them to be deaf, and have mental challenges. So many different things could have occurred, for example, a parent didn't know how to, first of all, they had to accept that their child is deaf, then they have to accept a diagnosis back in the 70s of their child being they would refer to him as mentally challenged, mentally retarded, we don't use those words today, you know, and however differently abled that they were, they didn't have the resources to give them, the more and so a lot of them that I encountered, were just stuck somewhere, rather than someone working with them rather than somebody developing them and so the sign language that I brought my neck, not necessarily connect with them as the receiver of the language and so and that is because I didn't have the training I just had, I was raised in a culture. Right. Thank you.


James Berges 23:22

Thank you for explaining that. That satisfies my curiosity, personally, and I'm sure the audiences as well. And so you had all these formative experiences, but you went to found your own company, my hands, your heart, and cruise interpreter academy. Can you tell us about your work there, and what inspired you to focus on that part of the industry specifically.


Lanette Pinkard 23:43

mostly, it was problems that I would see. My grandmother taught me that if you see a problem, and it bothers you, you're not able to just kind of drop it and go away, then you either bring a resolution or you're proud of the proble and so I started the organization based off of a couple of things. First of all, our hands, the hands of interpreters affect the heart of the deaf community. And so that's why it's my hands hurt. It was first to bring resolution to the issues that sign language interpreters have with agencies. There's a tendency that agencies into sign language agencies who provide sign language interpreting for different people and companies will hire an interpreter and whatever you're hired at 10 years later, you're still making that same amount. I didn't, I didn't feel that that was necessary. I'm one of the youngest oldest interpreters in terms of having so many years of interpreting. And so after 10 years, I don't want to still be making 15 hours after you know, and then when you get to certification, so I designed my hands your heart, and I designed a grid that people could come and look at and know what they would make If you had a degree, this is what you made, if you had, if you were certified, this is what you made, if you had 1015 years, this is what you made to break that mold. Because I would advocate for myself and I would not just accept anything for payment and I still do that today. It evolved from that, to having a relationship with the people that you interpret it for. And when I say that, I don't mean that we became friends, I what I meant was that an interpreter didn't go with the mindset, I'm gonna go and make this money real quick. This is a person we're talking about, when they're when they're getting a diagnosis or when they're, when they're having a life changing interview. This is their life. This is their life. So going in with a mindset that this is my money. I can't, I can't, I had a problem with sign language interpreters, who will come to interpret for my grandparents. This is later on in the years, you know, after the ADEA passed the American with Disabilities Act passed, and they just wanted to get in there and you know, my grandparents naturally will, how will you and what's your name, and so they, they will get in there and just want to interpret no conversation or anything, I have a problem with that. There are people, there are people and again, it doesn't mean you have to be their best friend. But if they want to engage a little bit, because if they had their choice, the deaf community, they wouldn't have a third party or an interpreter involved in all their affairs, right? They would not. And so it evolved into the caring part of that and then it evolved into saying sign language interpreters that had so much baggage from being criticized by the person by making the mistake. And so then it evolved into coaching, to let them know, okay, we're not perfect. But let's not let that one incident or that one mistake define us. Let's take it and get the definition out of it to learn and then grow past it. So it became where we encompass all this and now it is to we want to stop companies from thinking that closed caption is enough. Closed Caption for you might be fine. But I want the option to see the emotions on an interpretive space when I'm watching a movie or I'm hearing a presentation. So I don't want limit to close caption and so when the organization's hire us to give their consumers an option, then we actually allow the deaf person to interpret what's going on and we'll have a hearing interpreter to feed them to provide the services. So that's how all of it was always a problem that I saw. All of my workshops, all of my webinars, answer a problem that affects interpreters to be the best they can be to serve I definitely unity. Amazing. Thank you.


James Berges Advertisement 28:06

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Mai Ling 28:47

Now let's get back to our amazing interview.


James Berges 28:50

I want to comment on that that you say it wasn't about the money but the more you talk about being able to interpret ASL and English or even if someone out there is bilingual, trilingual, it is a superpower and it should be compensated. And, you know, unfortunately, money does seem to run the world, at least the business world. Customer service as a whole, you're kind of mentioning is lacking in the deaf community closed captioning is not enough. So when you're speaking to these businesses, whether it's a cruise line or an organization, do you have to speak to numbers and get that buy in for them to expand? You know, I was reading that over. There's over a trillion dollars and disposable income within the deaf community. So, you know, my heart says I don't want to lead with that. But maybe from a business you could say to them well, you're not you're missing out on a huge proportion of spending power of people that you're missing that you could be advertising to. So I was wondering if you could comment on that. But then also, how can companies be more inclusive without overwhelming them? Because I could see if I'm putting my self in the company's mind and playing devil's advocate, say, Well, yes, okay, I tried some accessibility features, I tried closed captioning. But it's too much time too much budget to learn ASL or teach that to all our employees. So what there's kind of two questions and one, but what are some quick things a company could do to be more inclusive? That's not a huge overwhelming ask for them?


Lanette Pinkard 30:24

Right? Because each company has a portion where they have to invest in the output for the input to come in. So that is one avenue that we look at it. And we say, well, how valuable is it to be inclusive of the deaf community? How valuable is it to you, because unfortunately, money does run the world, it is a money thing, where, you know, for example, if they want to hire sign language interpreters, for deaf employees, that can be very costly, that can be very costly. So then now they, they've resorted to the option of having video remote interpreting, where they can have a device where an interpreter can come up on there, and interpret for them. That's okay, as long as the deaf employee wants it, that's okay. But if the details that are that there are intricate details, and maybe there's training, or maybe there's a conference, or maybe there's a meeting for that deaf employee. It makes a difference for them to not have to look at a machine and look away from the speaker. And because body language is so important in the communication, and so a lot of times they will opt to have a person there to have someone in person. So that's one option, when if you want to just limited to the training and things like that, if it's just a touch up, maybe a short meeting something like that. Okay, then you give them the option if they want to choose something technical, like video remote interpreting. But now for the closed caption oftentimes it drains to have to constantly see the words on the screen and then the glancing up to see the body language because again, body language is so important and so in my vision, visionary mind, what I see is some had an option, because there are people that say closed caption is fine and some of them just ignore closed caption and get as much as they can from the body language. But what if they had the option to choose closed caption? Or choose an interpreter up in the corner of their screen? What if they had the option because they want to see it in their original language? I say we're not putting it on everybody. We're saying give them the option. Give them the option, because they miss out on so much. If that's not their preferred way of saying something was captain and then on the price, the money wise, everything is negotiable. But when you try to short sale, something that's going to triple, quadruple your asset, your financial income, it's wrong to try to short sale someone to try to just oh, well, you know, we'll give you you know, $20 for it. I'm just, you know, using my imagination in that conversation, because I don't want anyone listening to feel I'm not trying to shame anyone and so we have to walk away because the quality of what we are producing for them is second to none. It's second to none and what happens is when when someone in the deaf community say oh, wow, you you're including us. You're letting us see what you have with our original language that spreads like wildfire. Throughout the community, they are the fastest pass the information on that. I know they are faster than the news in a lot of cases because, you know, there are so many different arms of how the Deaf reach out to the deaf. And so when they are pleased with something, you know, you get more than what you would get if you just do one advertisement and even on social media. You see all these commercials on Facebook. Some of them have closed caption, none of them offer sign language.


James Berges 34:24

So it's yeah, it's in everyone's best interest and you get one person in the deaf community. It's such a tight knit community that it's going to spread farther than a general advertisement would.


Lanette Pinkard 34:37

Yes. Yes. Because you're you're reaching the hearts of people who have been thrown away for so long thrown away or having to they have to transition into a hearings man's world and it's not it's a world with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life.


James Berges 34:56

Right., and to that point to there was one quote But I really love to have yours Lynette. When you're training people in customer service, one term you use is you have to be a professional crown adjuster. What does that mean to you?


Lanette Pinkard 35:11

When you're dealing with your peers, because everyone's a stakeholder, the interpreter that you work with the deaf person you interpret for the hearing person that you're facilitating communication for between the deaf and the hearing on lookers who nine times out of 10 people just stop and stare, they're very fascinated about sign language and so if you have, let's deal with the perspective from the deficit, so we don't know them per se, when we come to serve them and let's say it's in a medical environment, and they are nervous, they're nervous. First of all, they have to disclose personal information, which is sacred confidence is sacred in our field is sacred, it is sacred and they just had some tension at home and so they might not be in a pleasant mood. They might, you know, it's so many variations, maybe they're snappier, let's say even on a cruise, because we do a lot of cruise interpreting, I've done 105 cruises in over 10 years, and if they are on a cruise, and they're angry, for whatever reason, so the interpreter still having their hearts, there'll be a person, when they have to do that exchange, like we had approved one time where a few deaf people didn't like us, for whatever reason they didn't like us, it's not our problem or our business as to why because we still have a service to give and so we will be interpreting, and they literally will ignore us, they will ignore us they would you know, and what I mean by that is they would not give us the eye contact that's usually prevalent in interpreting, they just would kind of, you know, whatever, okay, and it caused tension on the team and so it started being this on the team, because you're feeling bad, like, you know, am I doing a bad job is why, you know, why don't they like us. So internally, I had to deal with my team, I was a team lead and I said, Listen, it's not our problem, whatever their problem is, but they are here for a service, they want to enjoy their cruise vacation, and we whatever it takes, we're going to make it work. That's where that quote came from and so if we undergird each other, and we, you know, you're not doing a bad job, you did a great job, you facilitated the communication between the two and rather, they like it or not, you did it. So we help them there and then for the person that's receiving the services, you know, and even the the hearing person is looking on, and they can see body language, and they can see some type of tension, you still keep your voice even keel. If they sign angry, then you voice angry, if they sign sweet than you voice sweet. If the hearing person is irritated with a deaf person, which has happened a lot, do not hold back in how you sign. So if a hearing person is going well, I don't even know why we have to do that you sign that because they have a right to know it the same way you and I could hear it and decide how we want to respond to that and so when you just stay in your role, regardless of how they're acting, as at some point, that whole proofs turned around, because we held on each other and we kept serving, we kept being there as soon as they wanted us to be. We kept smiling. After all the interpreting was done. We kept saying Is there any other interpreting that I can do for you and in the end, they wanted to tip us, they wanted to be a blessing to us, they were so grateful for us. So we had to work on adjusting each other's crown as a team. And then we had to accept where they're coming from. You don't have to remember that the cruise is over. You don't have to take it home. After the service is over. You don't have to take it home and but what happens is a lot of times, at the end of the service, the deaf person is like you provided that service. You do what you have to do and whatever it was that was bothering them, which is not our business, that they leave knowing that they were served is important and what happens a lot of times for me that will open up a door. You know that conversation is always hot you learn sign language, are you really good or are you deaf? Sometimes people ask you if you're deaf, if you really are a good interpreter you sign really well and that conversation opens up and that connection begins and in that for me a lot of times If they will say, This is what's wrong, this is why this happened. And I don't try to counsel them, I'll just listen because they just need an ear. And then sometimes when they're talking about what bother them, sometimes they'll even come across the solution, which will change the whole thing. The opportunities are endless. So if you go in with a professional attitude or with a heart to be purchasable, you give whatever option, the choice to prove yourself to show itself.


James Berges 40:29

I love that and it's actually relevant beyond the deaf community, it's relevant to any situation where everyone's going through their own thing. You don't know what people have been through, and just deploying patients asking reflective questions, coming from a place of empathy while still respecting yourself and not taking things personally. That's a lifelong journey.


Lanette Pinkard 40:51

That's an emotional intelligence and that's something that we're focusing on lately. We're going to be doing the course emotional intelligence for the sign language interpreter, because it does it reaches the professional part and the part where the empathy and the compassion is.


James Berges 41:06

Yeah, I love that. So it's not just the technical parts of sign language. It's the emotional parts as well.


Lanette Pinkard 41:12

Right? Yeah.


James Berges 41:13

That's great. Lanette well I could keep talking about this forever. We're approaching the end of time here. Anything you want to leave our listeners with? I did. You know, maybe as a bonus question I was going to ask you, you know, with coda, we've reached what I think as this pop culture moment, I mean, coda, the motion picture, that just one best picture. And we have actors actresses like Marlee Matlin who have been in Hollywood promoting the culture. From your perspective, how far have we come in your lifetime? And the general understanding and inclusivity and being better about those things? And how far do we still have to go? And it's a big question.


Lanette Pinkard 41:55

It is, we have come a long way. I mean, gosh, when I think about the lack of access, for my grandparents, and for all the Deaf friends that I have from that time, because I'm still friends with a lot of them who are who are still living. When I think about the the accessibility that was not there, when I think about being inclusivetivity that was not there, there used to have having to be pushed aside, someone once told me, it was because deafness is a differently abled ability that you cannot see. So if you walked in with a room of deaf people, and hearing people, if they're all moving their hands, you don't know who's interpreting who is a coda, who is deaf, and so sometimes it's hard to, for them to function. But they have the breakthroughs have been the TTY, which allow deaf people the independence from waiting for their children to get home. The only problem was it took so long to type a message in the conversation that some companies would have a problem with it. Then the next breakthrough was the video remote interpreting or the video relay services where you can have an interpreter pop up on the screen and if I'm deaf and your hearing you and I can talk through that interpreter, that's been wonderful. Now they have it where the deaf person can give an app to the people that they talk to and everybody can be on the same screen. So you'll have the interpreter, the person they're talking to, and the deaf consumer and that's a beautiful thing, because they get to see if the content is being relayed 100% that big. Then they have the phones they have come so far in technology. The missing element that I see is the understanding and the open mindedness to allow deaf people to reign like they can we have deaf inventors. We have deaf movie producers. We have one of the hardest simon I ever had was a young man in his 40s, who had a masters and a doctorate in some Eco EQ Miss, I can't even I don't even remember the wor, and he was he was attending a workshop and we interpreted for him after three days, all we had the energy to do was go to our hotel room and go to sleep, my food would be left on the table because he was so brilliant that after every workshop, there was a line that people lined up to talk to him. While there were words we had never heard words that didn't have signs and so we were working constantly and now they have where they do cart. cart is where they can, you know have the message up on the screen while someone's speaking as well as having an interpreter. And so you get so much more now than was offered back in the time when I was growing up the 60s and 70s and the 80s and some of that just came out in the 90s. And now we've got a movie and entire movie built around deaf people. So I would like to see more of that, that doesn't embrace one culture of deaf people, but also embraces the various cultures that you have in the deaf community.


James Berges 45:22

Right? Well said, like, not just having the person be the "token deaf person" in the movie.


Lanette Pinkard 45:30



James Berges 45:30

But it's like seeing it from a person's perspective, a rich life and I think, coda, the movie tried to do that and you know, full disclosure, I haven't seen it yet and I'm gonna watch it, of course and one of the things I heard about it was that you get a real glimpse into, you know, the family dynamics. You see, you see a holistic 360 view of people, not just oh, they're, they're deaf. So I think, yeah, so I love I love that, like, it takes technology, but it also takes culture, its culture lead the innovation, and they kind of go cyclically and play together.


Lanette Pinkard 46:08

Yeah, they do go hand in hand, they really do. Because, you know, no one wants to just have a computer screen all the time. They want that interaction, you know, and that's one thing that we're coming back from as COVID. We COVID tries to get under some type of control. Because can you imagine that the deaf community is very sociable and there has been taken from them for two years. Can you imagine? So? Yes, I'm late when they are out and about, I would like to see the sensitivity. In every walk of life. Wherever the store the doctors, and office that is not a deaf person who walked in the door is a person who happens to be deaf, walked in the door.


James Berges 46:55

Powerful distinction. Thank you so much, Lanette, I really appreciate you taking the time and our wonderful interpreter. Andrea, Thank you so much and where can people find you if they want to learn more about your work and what you're doing?


Lanette Pinkard 47:09

Okay, they can find this on the website, our website is for sign language interpreters who want to get into cruising and travel all over the world. You have and our phone number, and we have a team that will answer the phone is 855-730-6494, and we're just here to serve. We're here to care for you to serve, to help you be more inclusive, to let you know that you are a person. And to remind you that just because we all have differences, it doesn't mean that we can all live and work together.


James Berges 48:02

Love it. Thank you Lanette, Thank you Andrea. Thank you for sharing your story and all these resources gives me a lot of food for thought and also just makes me want to learn more as well, because it's such an expressive language in its own right and so interesting. Yeah. So thank you. We're gonna post this video on YouTube probably definitely take clips of it on social media, and you'll be able to see the interaction between us as well as Andreea interpreting. So it's a fun little dynamic that you don't normally get on a podcast. Thanks again.


Lanette Pinkard 48:37

Thank you. Thank you. It was wonderful. Thank you.


Mai Ling 48:40

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James Berges 48:56

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Lanette PinkardProfile Photo

Lanette Pinkard

BBS, DD, NIC Master -Nationally Certified Interpreter

Lanette is a child of deaf adults (CODA) who has been a professional American Sign-language (ASL) interpreter for 40+ years. She is a highly sought-after interpreter, interpreter coordinator, cruise interpreting instructor and Lead interpreter for interpreting teams facilitating communication for Deaf groups/individuals traveling all over the U.S. and internationally.

As a 21st century leader, Lanette, founder of My Hands Your Heart, LLC (MHYH) has provided training, professional development, employment, and empowerment through her organization. Some of her accomplishments include starting a community sign-language school and a Hands-on Internship Program (HOIP) for interpreting training program (ITP) students who are graduating or recently graduated. These platforms were created for interpreters to develop their skills in environments mirroring real life assignments.

Lanette has been recruited and pursued to lead multiple teams of interpreters to serve on cruises and international travel with large Deaf groups and has completed over 80 cruises in less than 10 years. When Lanette sees a problem that affects the recipients of ASL, she believes that you either assist and bring a resolution or you are part of the problem. Her teams are loyal to her because she serves along with them, show appreciation and celebrate them in everything they do.
Among many of her empowering projects, she developed an exclusive “Cruise Interpreting Academy” (CIA) hands-on training that takes place aboard cruise ships for ASL Interpreters. In her training interpreters learn how to serve all the stakeholders involved when interpreting is needed for their guests. They learn all policy and procedures from embarkation to disembarkation and customize training for different organizations. Her interpreters are highly skilled, trained, professional and qualified; they are open-minded, adaptable to change and purposed to serve beyond the call of duty to represent organizations nationally and internationally.

Lanette’s mission is to help ASL interpreters be professional yet personal, prepared yet passionate, precise with purpose while providing excellent interpreting services. This has led to repeated requests by organizations, agencies, corporations and the Deaf Community everywhere. She is passionate about unifying the Deaf Community, Interpreters and organizations through education of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills while emphasizing respect and appreciation for each other’s differences. Finally, the sign-language interpreters are required to learn all policy and procedures to follow for each organization for premium customer service and ASL interpreting delivery.

Her mottos for the interpreting profession are:
“Serving alone we fail, serving together, we can overcome anything!”
“Whatever it takes, we make it work!”
“Greatness comes when you invest in making others great!”