I’ve been getting a lot of emails recently to take research surveys for friends who are doing research. I always take the surveys. But I have also noticed that often the research is justified with a general claim that goes like this: “we don’t know X, so I should find out.”
We don’t know what CODA think, so I’ll find out. We don’t know how many educational interpreters there are, so I’ll find out.
Well this is fine, and maybe X matters. Maybe it doesn’t.
The collective “we” of interpreters need to get better at answering the question “why should anyone in the world care about X?” And for X, insert “interpreters”, “Deaf consumers”, “mainstreaming”, “RID”, etc. I think all those things do matter, but we can’t assume that they matter. We shouldn’t assume that because we don’t know something that we need to know it. We can’t assume that because most people don’t understand signed languages or Deaf culture that they ought to.
Because unless we tell people why they should care, it won’t matter to them that they don’t know.
So maybe we don’t need more research. Maybe we don’t need to know more stuff.
Maybe we need to get better at selling the knowledge that we do have and convincing the world that it should care. If people care, if people recognize the value of this field of knowledge, the all those facts – the X’s – that we don’t know will have a better chance of getting sorted out.