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10 Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution 131 (2008)


The work of American Sign Language (ASL)/English interpreters is filled with complex interpersonal, linguistic and cultural challenges. The decisions and ethical dilemmas interpreters face on a daily basis are countless and the potential for disagreement regarding those decisions is great. Technology Mediated Dispute Resolution (TMDR) processes can be particularly helpful when misunderstandings and conflicts arise. Technology Mediated Dispute Resolution is a more inclusive phrase than Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and includes cellular telephones, radio frequency devices, and satellite communication systems. The Deaf Community has learned to adapt and rely upon a variety of technologies and, because many Deaf individuals already are comfortable with technology, it makes sense to further integrate technology into dispute resolution processes. And while the Deaf Community can benefit from a greater reliance on technology, conversely, the communication skills that the Deaf community and interpreters employ routinely can provide valuable insights for everyone who uses new technologies to communicate and resolve disputes.

David Allen Larson previously has addressed the opportunities and dangers inherent in technology. He believes that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioners and theorists must study how individuals increasingly are using technology to communicate. Those practitioners and theorists then must determine how those technologies can be integrated into dispute resolution processes most productively. He offers three distinct reasons why we need to approach technology in this manner: 1) teens and preteens, who soon will be adults, rely heavily on technology to communicate and we need to become competent in those technologies; 2) fuel prices continue to rise and technology allows us to communicate effectively without incurring travel expenses; and 3) security concerns have made physical travel less convenient and potentially less safe.

This article examines the mediation process within the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Ethical Practices System and suggests when and how technology may be utilized to enhance that process. Background information regarding the interpreting profession, the Deaf Community and the process for filing and reviewing grievances provides a context for this discussion. An overview of the technologies already being used within the Deaf Community and interpreting field assists in determining where new technologies can be introduced most effectively. Each of the three steps in the EPS is analyzed to assess how additional technologies can be integrated productively. Finally, peripheral activities surrounding the EPS and mediation process are identified, highlighting elements in which technology may be used