Sign Language Interpreting Services with Kathy Elkins

Kathy Elkins supervises Sign Language Interpreting Services at CIL. Kathy has had 18 years of experience working at a center for independent living, of which 15 have been in the sign language interpreting program. She joins us to today to discuss why these sign language interpreting programs are so important. Kathy shares what a situation that requires sign language interpretation looks like and explains the process of how of how to go about requesting an interpreter. CIL of North Central Florida operates a sign language coordination program to ensure the availability of interpreters for individuals who are deaf.

For more information, call Kathy Elkins at 877-629-8840 or e-mail

SPEAKERS: Kathy Elkins, Tony Delisle

Tony Delisle  00:00

We have two ears and one mouth for a good reason. I don’t know who said this, who can get credit for it, but from my takeaway is that it’s more important to listen than to talk. And I can see where I need to be applying this in my life, for sure. But then I think to myself, well, what if I couldn’t listen, because I cannot hear with my ears? What if I couldn’t speak the language that other people speak, that I had my own language, and I was in a place where no one spoke this language. Cannot hear, and I communicate in a way that most people do not understand. This can be just one little bit of how it may be for somebody who is deaf, and lives in our society. What’s it like to have to go to a food store, to school, to work, to social events, if you cannot hear and the people that you’re likely going to encounter, cannot speak the language that you use? American Sign Language for most of the people that we serve here at our center, because we have a service, which provides sign language interpreters for people who are deaf. The Americans with Disabilities Act has a very important section, a robust section in there about effective communication and within it, it describes the roles and responsibilities for requesting sign language interpreters so people who are deaf can have the accesses, the equal access to the services and programs that are offered to the general public. Our center, among with many other centers here in the state of Florida, provide sign language interpreting services. And this is very important for everyone to know about. Likely, you will encounter a situation where you need to get an interpreter. So today we have Kathy Elkins, who supervises and really runs this program very well. And she’s going to be here to talk to us about, first about her 18 years of experience in working at a Center for Independent Living, 15 of which have been in the sign language interpreting program and get her take on Centers for Independent Living, and what is disability and some of the etiquette and all these other kinds of things that go into it that we’ve been asking our guests, but we specifically drill down into the Why are the sign language interpreting services programs so important? What does it look like? What is it all about? And how do people who need to request one go through the process of requesting one, so she really does an excellent job of unpacking that. And importantly, she talks about some of the things that really allow her to do her job to the best of her capabilities. Her job is very complicated. It is very dynamic. It can make one’s head spin on my head spins, just hearing about what she has to do, let alone I can’t imagine doing exactly what she does, because it is dizzying, and it takes a special kind of person to be able to do this position. And she talks about some of the attributes and values that are needed to do something like this. So I think this has a really great takeaway for a lot of us who are trying to be better versions of ourselves. I think she’s got some really wisdom too that really enjoyed the conversation that I had with Kathy. She’s a wonderful part of the CIL family here she brings a lot of humor and levity into situations where it can get you know, heavy and it’s really good for humor. And so enjoy your conversations with Kathy Elkins.

Kathy Elkins  03:35

I was born in Dania, Florida.

Tony Delisle  03:38

Where’s that? I’m a Floridian and I don’t even know where that is. So, break it down.

Kathy Elkins  03:42

Dania, Florida is a little south of Fort Lauderdale.

Tony Delisle  03:45

Okay, alright.

Kathy Elkins  03:47

Grew up in Fort Lauderdale, though.

Tony Delisle  03:48

Oh, southern Florida. I would never have pegged you because you seem to really enjoy living in nature. And the more touching base with the… Tell me about that. Why do you love like living out where you do compared to where you grew up?

Kathy Elkins  04:04

I’m more of a serenity seeker. I need peace and quiet, birds tweeting. The whole nine yards. I’m not a hustle and bustle kind of person.

Tony Delisle  04:16

So here a Type B and A type A environment. Yeah, you’re more suited. Great. I like that serenity seeker. I think we all need more serenity, inner peace. Well, that’s one of the things that we’re looking to really promote at The independent life podcast is that we’re all seeking I think the same thing and through disability, I find that we can come together and do that if especially if we share a part of ourselves and who we are with others and more willing to listen to other people and when they share who they are. I find some serenity in that and connecting so I’m really excited that you’ve come on board to speak with us today about all the wonderful work that you’ve done for our sign language interpreting program which we’ll definitely get into but also some of the other work you’ve done here at the center. So how many years? Have you been working at the Center for Independent Living in North Central Florida? Kathy?

Kathy Elkins  05:07

I’ve been here for 18 years.

Tony Delisle  05:09

18 years. Yeah. So now you’re almost like a legal age, right to vote? Right. And by gun, so tell me at 18 years, that’s a veteran in the center, you know, they independent living, I think you have a lot of wisdom in there to share. So where did you work within within the center during those years? And what did you learn?

Kathy Elkins  05:34

So the first three years, I came on board, I was the administrative assistant, and did a lot of data entry and, and that opened the door for me into working with people with disabilities. I had never worked with people with disabilities prior to that. Then, after that, we they needed someone to manage the interpreting program. So I started doing with that, and I’ve been doing that for the last 15 years.

Tony Delisle  06:03

Wow. Wow. So data management, I’ll start there because that piques my interest in the role that I’m in, I would imagine then, with data management that gets you a behind the scenes look about, you know, what all the programs are doing and what they’re reporting on and probably gave you, I think, would probably a unique understanding of how Centers for Independent Living operate.

Kathy Elkins  06:23

It did it did, it really clued me into what type of services we offered, how many of those services are provided the areas? I mean, we cover a lot of areas, we cover 16 counties, yep. And I was like, wow, amazed with that. And to see all that going on it really it made me proud to work for the center, even though I hadn’t been there that long, I would still, you know, go home, I got to sleep at night, and it made me feel real good. When I laid my head down.

Tony Delisle  06:54

Wow, how would you describe the people that you’ve gotten to work with along those 18 years of being at a center? 

Kathy Elkins  07:01

As far as employees? 

Tony Delisle  07:03

As far as your co-workers, myself included Kathy.

Kathy Elkins  07:06

Yeah. I was told not to talk about you Tony. I think the CIL is extremely fortunate to have such an awesome group of people that I definitely call family, that we are so truthful to what we’re doing, and honest about it. And just genuinely caring. I mean, I’ve never, I’ve dabbled in some of that in different things in different employments that I’ve had, but never to this extent. I mean, that’s why I say truly made me feel good when I went home.

Tony Delisle  07:48

It’s one of the most positive work environments I’ve been a part of, where, like you said, people are real, they’re authentic, care, good heart for other people. So people that are real, empathetic towards others. And for me, I, the blessings that I’ve had is to bear witness to you all coming together, especially when we’re challenged, and really how you all support one another. It’s just, the most wonderful thing to see. So yeah, yeah, that definitely resonates. So let’s get into what you spent the majority of your time then doing here at the Center, which now you manage sign language interpreting services, Program Manager. So you are in charge of a lot of things that go on regarding effective communication for those that we serve that are deaf, they don’t want to, you know, unpack this in terms of you know, why the Why is very important, then getting into kind of what the program looks like, and you know, how people can access us or even other centers that, you know, might be hearing this and have sign language programs, how, how they can get an interpreter when they’re needing one, and it’s their responsibility to get one. So, to start out and unpacking from the beginning, why is this service so important for people who are deaf?

Kathy Elkins  09:02

It is so important because without it, they simply cannot communicate or it is such a struggle. So frustrating. They get bad information, incorrect information. And it’s just it’s, it’s a disservice to them all the way around. It’s their legal right to have effective communication. And they shouldn’t have to fight for it so hard each and every time. I mean, here we are 30 plus years, since the ADA has as passed into law, and they’re still having to fight that fight every day, just to be able to go to the doctor, just to be able to do anything. You know, and it is such a need and the advocacy for it is just as strong, because you have to be on top of it and help them to fight that fight.

Tony Delisle  10:00

So, um, like you were pointing to the ADA a little over 30 years, like you said, effective communication is within the ADA that, you know, does require certain circumstances, many circumstances for a sign language interpreter to be provided. And you’re saying that, you know, in order for this to happen, there’s a lot of advocacy that needs to happen in order for that to happen. So what have you seen in terms of the the specifics on what is often had to be advocated for in terms of getting that interpreter there? So of course, the resistance, what are the barriers that you know, has had to be advocated towards?

Kathy Elkins  10:37

There’s just in your average doctor’s appointment, you know, the individual will make it clear to them, I’m going to need an interpreter. And they’ve been told everything from Well, you better bring one with you, or bring a family member. Or if you can’t find anybody to come, then we’ll just have to write back and forth. And they try to tell them no, that’s not that’s not sufficient. I can’t, I can’t do it that way. I need a sign language interpreter, that is my language. And they just write chalk it off to Nope, we’ll just write back and forth. And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a shame that that is still happening at this day and age. But it is, it happens every, every week, I get at least one or two of those calls.

Tony Delisle  11:23

So that’s heartbreaking. And so it can be even the law that they provide a sound language interpreter, and it’s against the law to force any other alternative than the preferred accommodations for the person that’s requesting them. Correct? 

Kathy Elkins  11:41


Tony Delisle  11:42

So when they say bring someone with you, when they say we’re going to write back and forth, they’re in violation of the ADA. Correct? Most times.

Kathy Elkins  11:52

But, yes, technically, yes. But if you break it down to actually how it reads, it’s kinda like a gray area, it doesn’t specifically say, you have to do this this way. It says they need to provide the accommodation. And kind of like it leaves it to however they see fit kind of thing.

Tony Delisle  12:15

And I think it’s more restrictive in public versus private. And there’s some nuances there.

Kathy Elkins  12:20

Yeah. And a lot of times, it’s such a struggle. I mean, you know, yourself, when you find a doctor for yourself, you know, the criteria that you look for in a doctor shouldn’t have to be, are they going to get me an interpreter, so I can talk to that doctor, right, it should be their skill, set their specialty, their reputation, it should be the merit of the doctor in his ability to care for you. Not if he’s going to get you an interpreter or not.

Tony Delisle  12:52

So this is almost akin to doctors offices, these clinics all have wheelchair ramps to get in, in order for people that have mobility issues to access our services, is safe to say it’s snymous, that they would provide sign language interpreters, so people who are deaf can access their services? Right? It seems like a synonymous, common sense thing, you know?

Kathy Elkins  13:14

But you know, they’re not violation, you know, they’re not in violation, they don’t see that they didn’t provide an interpreter, they can see that they’re not providing a ramp. And I think that it’s certainly behind the scenes and not known.

Tony Delisle  13:29

Yeah, that’s what makes it so egregious. So what would be someone said, okay, you know, what’s so unreasonable with writing back and forth to somebody who’s deaf, especially, you know, if it’s, it can, you know, be something that can be done and I can communicate? Or maybe it can’t? I don’t know, what’s the what’s the issue with that?

Kathy Elkins  13:48

I think the biggest issue with that is, the biggest misunderstanding is people just assume that a deaf person just can’t hear. They can read and write English just like anyone else they just can’t hear, and that’s not true at all. Their their main language is ASL. It’s a visual language. And English or English, written, written English is probably second or maybe even third in their languages. So forcing them to communicate in a language of that level to them is not not going to work. So the in a lot of things where they struggle with descriptive words, you know, for the hearing, we’re taught when we’re describing something, the more descriptive words we use, the clear becomes, well with working with the deaf and hard of hearing, it’s quite the opposite. The more descriptive words you get, the muddier it gets. You give them that many more avenues to go with That conversation, and they have to determine which way you’re going with it. So they’re losing so much while they’re trying to figure that out. So you have to keep it cut and dry, clear. So..

Tony Delisle  15:13

Be consise, right? That’s good advice in communicating.

Kathy Elkins  15:17

So medical terminology, a lot of those words they do not recognize. So they’re not going to understand you can write it 10 times, they may not ever understand what you’re trying to convey to them. So…

Tony Delisle  15:30

You know, it strikes me too. Would you say the majority of your services are in clinical care? Or is it in other areas? Yeah, okay. And you’re also providing interpreters for employment, opportunities in school, whether it’s in the justice system, and all these other private industries. So it’s, it’s everywhere, you know, coming from the public health field, I recognize that the Americans have medical… the American Medical Association, stated that health literacy, the ability to understand and act on the health information being communicated to you is the most important determinant in terms of health outcomes, how long we live, or resiliency, disease and our quality of life. Health literacy, the ability to understand and act on the health related information that’s being communicated to us. So in general, the one of the most prestigious professional organizations of medicine, saying this communication between healthcare provider and patient is so important. Add an interpreter into the mix, you now have this plus health literacy, I imagine then amplifies that need, you know, in many ways to have someone there to be able to help communicate that health related information in a way that can be understood and acted upon, right. So I imagine with that being the majority of perhaps assignments that get put out there, you know, how is COVID impacted, being able to go out there and do these services?

Kathy Elkins  17:03

COVID is is really affecting the deaf community strong, because currently, with the pandemic restrictions that are in place now, it’s not only reinforcing the barriers that have always existed, it’s creating some new ones, such as wearing masks, wearing masks is required, and it’s necessary. But now you have blocked their view of the mouth, they heavily rely on reading lips, body language, facial expressions, and now you’ve taken that completely away from them. Even though our interpreters tend to, we use the clear view style masks, and it does allow you to see a portion of the mouth, most of the mouth, but it still interferes with them being able to to totally read your facial expressions, then, from time to time, there’s fogging and things of that nature happening. We found that some of the medical staff are using the Clearview masks is well, great, but for the most part, they use paper masks covered by a cloth mask. So without an interpreter present. There’s no way for that… No, they can’t. They cannot. So then they would only be able to rely on written English or if they were to use video relay interpreting.

Tony Delisle  18:45

Wow. So I often think about the frontline workers and certainly healthcare providers, you’ve been exposed to COVID and the dangers in that healthcare setting. I know our interpreters are also in the same setting, right, doing work that they’re doing, and I just want to acknowledge that bravery. And courage.

Kathy Elkins  19:08

I agree, I agree. They, they all need to wear a cape from time to time. You know, and it’s cause it’s it’s ended up being an issue as well with COVID. Because we have interpreters that have been exposed to individuals with COVID, that testing positive for COVID then that interpreter needs to quarantine until they’re cleared. So that takes that interpreter out of the mix. And all the assignments that were assigned to them now have to be reassigned. Well, you can imagine that’s just one interpreter out and when you have two or three they would have been exposed because they’re out there on the front line, you know, it tends to get get a little messy. So it’s been a struggle. But we have definitely got through it so far. So…

Tony Delisle  20:01

It’s kind of like we were saying earlier when the staff really come together to tell each other the wonderful things that we can really point towards to get us through these difficult times and we’ve done that and done the brave and courageous work that they have been able to do. And it’s been an interesting, I think, challenge getting interpreters vaccinated as well, because the law in the hospitals aren’t vaccinating their contract workers. The designation is in this area that doesn’t put them in, you know, the the direct health care status, which it should, since they’re in the same setting, exposed to these kinds of things. So I think it illuminates an issue area there that needs to be looked at very hard. And hopefully, like the one of the learning lessons through this can be like, how can we expediate you know, the sign language interpreters or other even contract workers that work in hospitals, we’re talking about the food and other valet services, and then these kind of things that are exposed to just as much as the direct frontline workers in many cases. So, another learning lesson, I think, that really needs to be advocated for and very important, impressing. So we started kind of touching on a little bit there about when we have people taken out of the rotation to go do assignments, and were loaded with assignments to get covered. And the challenges in that points that kind of what your job is all about and what it looks like. So you know, you’re gonna tell somebody, so you’re the program manager for our sign language interpreting program, what is it you actually do, and that might help us give insight into what the program looks like.

Kathy Elkins  21:30

Okay. So according to the ADA, the service providers are responsible for providing effective communication. And should they choose to hire an in person interpreter from our agency, they would contact me via email, and we would respond to them and get the details and set it up, get them on the schedule for an interpreter to be present, there’s a lot of information we have to find out, depending on what type of assignment it is, is it a procedure or hospital, surgical, what is going to take place. And with that, that helps us to determine what type of interpreter to use, we have to get the information on the deaf individual, because that helps us to determine which interpreter to use depending on the person, we try to keep things as copacetic as possible. Our main goal is to provide effective communication and that means nothing interfering with the communication, if that means that this particular patient requires a female interpreter versus a male interpreter, due to preference. So if at all possible, we will do that because we want everything to go as smooth as possible, and keep communication flowing. So we don’t want anything or anyone to interfere with it. So a lot to to keep a handle on, then there are the cases where we have to advocate for the services show that comes into play as well.

Tony Delisle  23:11

Well, let me let me back up just a second, just to say that, so your, I really love how you work very hard to tailor make the most appropriate fit for the interpreter to the person who’s deaf that we’re serving. Yes. So I imagine by doing that, how do you work that plus the boatload of assignments that you got to fill and connecting those dots between tailor made things for those people with the assignments and the time of the assignments that they go on as well, they can be in different areas and locations and in my head starts to spinning just very superficially thinking about this. So can you unpack that like world like of how that happens?

Kathy Elkins  23:54

Yeah, that part of the job is not for everyone. Me personally, I love a challenge. Yeah. And I challenged myself every day with it. But that’s me, that’s what makes you tick. I want to I want to make it work. And it involves having to re redo the schedule quite a few times during the week, you know, you’ll have it all set and ready to go and last minute, something else comes in. And because there’s a lot to take into consideration. So you want to make sure you line up what works for the interpreters entire day. Yeah, you know, you’re not going to have interpreters zigzagging back across this, you know, the area, the service area, you’re going to try to keep them local and efficient, right? Absolutely. So we here at the center, we have five staff interpreters, okay, for the cover the rest of the assignments, we utilize the list of freelance interpreters. So we go back and forth between them all and we get pretty fortunate it works out most of the time.

Tony Delisle  25:03

Connecting the dots. So tailor-making it, the times of the appointments, the location of the appointments, trying to make that all synergize together just for one individual, let alone your five plus the freelancers that we have, you know, you were saying you love a challenge. And that that is a you know, in saying that, you know, it can be set in stone, and it can be changed in those kind of things like, what are some of the like skill sets, you need to be able to do that kind of job, obviously liking it, and one in a challenge, but what have you found that like, really helps you be good at what you got?

Kathy Elkins  25:39

Paying attention to detail and learning your detail your people and learning the jobs. I mean, there’s a lot to remember, because you need to, you just get a name of the clinic. And instantly you need to know what that means to you. Which which county is it in? What do they require? different customers require different, you know, have different demands. Different patients have different requests, different interpreters have different requests, some interpreters prefer not to do this type of setting versus that type of setting. So there’s a lot to take into consideration, and you gotta remember…

Tony Delisle  26:19

Attention to detail and memory. Wow, and wanting to do it, and liking the challenge.

Kathy Elkins  26:25

And you got to be able to roll with the punches, because sometimes it’s not just connecting the dots, because sometimes your dots move. Yeah, you know, we’ll have something that’s been in place for eight o’clock in the morning for two weeks. And then they call you the, you know, five o’clock in the evening. Oh, that appointments been bumped to three o’clock in the afternoon now. So it kind of rearranges things, then that happens quite often.

Tony Delisle  26:49

Wow. So I’m hearing adaptability, they’re, they’re just being like, very adaptable. And that seems to me to be a hard characteristic of anyone with disabilities, really having to be adaptable to situations, you know, be like water.

Kathy Elkins  27:03

And creative.

Tony Delisle  27:06

It also harkens like the I think, a metaphor that when you change one strand on a spider’s web, it changes all the strands in some ways. And so when an appointment moves, I imagine that just shuffles the whole deck in some situations.

Kathy Elkins  27:21

Oh yes, the trickle down effect.

Tony Delisle  27:23

Yeah, yeah, I’ve seen you in the hallway, sometimes with your head spinning. Yeah. Reminds me of your activity. But you’re so good natured and have a good attitude and humorous about it. So I want to acknowledge you for Yeah, having that, you know, willingness to take on a challenge, paying attention to detail, being able to remember things and being so adaptable. And to do it with like, you got a pretty good funny attitude about it, you do roll with the punches. And, you know, I think that’s an important characteristic too. So when I acknowledge you for that.

Kathy Elkins  27:57

Thank you.

Tony Delisle  27:57

You’re welcome. So that explains a little bit of what it’s like in your world. And you mentioned how perhaps people can request our services. Will.. we have show notes that accompany these episodes, so we’ll make sure to drop that in the show notes. To get ahold of you your email, you said, any other contact information will definitely throw down in there. So I want to shift a little bit of gears here and talk about some things that we’ve been talking to with a lot of our guests some some standard questions that we have is really interesting, I think with you and talking about it. These questions have been kind of loaded in terms of asking people about what their perceptions are in disability. And it’s interesting, I think, also when we talk about this, and you’re the first guest that really is specializing in a specific disability area, and it’s interesting to contrast sometimes these answers and what people think about it, but one thing we do ask a lot of people is you know, what are some like social etiquette tips that people can use and when communicating with people with disabilities, and that would be one and if you’re, you know, wanting to tailor that to people who are deaf, you’re more than welcome to so I know that’s an interest of a lot of people who who want to do better and communicate and relate and, you know, develop their communication skills with people with disabilities. What do you have any recommendations for folks?

Kathy Elkins  29:41

I do, um, as far as communication when speaking to an individual with any disability, beak directly to them, do not speak to their caregiver or their family member, the interpreter, your your conversation is with that individual Now, however means they’re receiving that is up to them. But for you, you’re having a conversation with them.

Tony Delisle  30:09

Do you find that when people who may not have a lot of experience they end up? So if there’s a, I’m talking to somebody who’s deaf, is it kind of normal, not normal, but is often that people will talk to the interpreter looking directly at the interpreter instead of the person? Yes, they do it that way.

Kathy Elkins  30:27

Or they’ll even say to the interpreter, ask him what his address is, you know, and, you know, the interpreter will assign that to the individual. So they can reply themselves and say, I’m sorry, you can talk to me, you know. Or if they keep doing it, the interpreter may interject and say, timeout. This is the interpreter speaking. If you wouldn’t mind, please address them directly.

Tony Delisle  30:57

Gotcha. So that’s live. And then over a telephone, often, there’s an operator that will serve as the person in the room so to speak, if we were face to face. Same thing goes right there. Right? Hey, tell, you know, Susie, who’s on the other line, who’s definitely communicating to when I’m speaking to the operator, correct? All right, gotcha. So any other etiquette tips or anything else like that. So talking directly to people I think is awesome. Like it goes right to treating each other with just the humanity that we should be.

Kathy Elkins  31:28

Right. And I think sensitivity training would go a long way with a lot of the facilities, if everyone took some sensitivity training, just to have a better understanding of the situation, and how to properly address not to offend anyone, you know, such as with with a deaf giving their attention, a lot of people feel, you know, they have to raise their voice or yell, and that’s simply not… you know, or get right in front of their face and wave their hand to get their attention. It’s just not the way to do it.

Tony Delisle  32:05

Yeah, yeah. And the more that exposure with would be really good. But I think it’s really a time where I think it’s prime for it. I know, diversity trainings and workplace environments are being amplified, and the emphasis on that, and disability has a very important place in that conversation. And, in addition, so does the deaf community. And so I would like to think that, you know, this will manifest itself, I know, we have some things going on in that. But I look forward to that area, really growing. So I agree with you there. That’s a good one. Last couple of questions I have for you. What is it meant to you, and being in a position that you have been in, you know, here at the center, working with the great people that we’ve worked with, and serving the people that we serve, and advocating and doing all the really hard work that you do with the heart that you do. What does it meant to you in your life?

Kathy Elkins  32:59

It has given me a sense of purpose. And with this crazy world, as ugly as it can be sometimes, and it just gives me great comfort to know what we do here, why we do it, that how it’s being received, how effective it’s being. It, it just gives me great peace with that.

Tony Delisle  33:22

Like a serenity seeker.

Kathy Elkins  33:23

Absolutely. And that is what it’s all about.

Tony Delisle  33:27

I love how you really tie in purpose. And for me, I see purpose being like greater than just us. It’s not like me, right? Or you. It’s us.

Kathy Elkins  33:35

Oh, yes, it’s my part in it. You know, if everyone does their part, it can all get done, anything can get done, as long as everyone does their part. And, and I feel very comfortable, I’m doing my piece of it, and helping anyone else to achieve their piece of it. I’m up for that, too.

Tony Delisle  33:53

That’s great. And it does bring comfort, to make a difference and to seek that serenity. It’s been really interesting during these times with COVID. As we’re recording this, it’s like a year to the end in a week. You know, since we’re operating in different ways. I remember on the day we close I remember it was Friday the 13th. Right. And, you know, it was a closing time 5pm. And the schools had just announced their closing, everybody is shutting down, it was just across the board it was happening and so fresh in and around in the corner for the next hour or two to be gone. But you and I were here very late on that. And I remember speaking with you in our office, about what lay ahead of us, and it’s like a year now. But I remember you and I you know just talking about how well the times are uncertain. What we can be certain about is, you know the purpose that we have to serve in this moment. The fact that we like you were saying at the beginning are authentic, you know have our heart in the right place we care about people are adaptable, all these things that you brought out in life. Making the challenge maybe, as well as really tailoring things to meet the needs of the people has been something that I think we can all hold on to certainty about in uncertain times. And I really appreciate that conversation that we had, and you really helping to put those notions out there. It certainly has been a compass for me that conversation throughout these times and continues to be, and I just wanted to let you know that I feel, yeah, there was a, there was, that was a real important time, it felt like, you know, we were definitely on the precipice of a long journey. And it has been so it’s interesting to reflect on where we were then and where we are now. And it just confirms that conversation that it’s true, you know, people that have a purpose, or you know, caring about people, adaptable can work with each other do their part, you know, can really bring us through these times.

Kathy Elkins  35:50

I always knew that each each individual team here at the center, and when I say team, I mean department, and everyone in that department working together, I knew that they could separately function very well together, as they always have. But you know, it was going to, I was curious to see how it was going to be where we had to cross, you know, cross over to, you know, because of things shutting down, and new tasks at hand, with food distribution, and everything being handled, you’re still doing everything we were doing, but adding a few to the mix. And, you know, I knew it was going to be a struggle, but it made me very proud how everyone did pick up the pieces and say, Okay, what do you want me to do? And, you know, and found new ways to do things, keeping in mind what goals we have to reach and how we have to reach them, keeping the confidentiality intact? And, everything, you know, you don’t want to just run wild with it and realize, oh, maybe we shouldn’t have done it that way. Right. So I’m very proud of how we’ve all interacted together. And I, for one, have an awesome team. The interpreters are just awesome. And we have chaired the duties of the interpreting office, and it’s really, really, really helped.

Tony Delisle  37:24

Its so wonderful to hear that, you know, bonding that goes on three times, there’s nothing to bring us more together than then a common purpose. And cause Yes, I kind of think we started out that way. It’s been the blessing and honor to be witness to such wonderful people coming together and being greater than the sum of their parts. Unity through disability. Yes, our theme here. So what does the independent life mean to you?

Kathy Elkins  37:53

Right off the bat, the independent life. I feel it’s something that your average human being takes for granted. And I, you know, you hear the words, and they’re they’re the words, you know, okay, it’s living independent. Okay, I guess Sure. Yeah. What is right, when you have that independence, removed from you, and then you realize, you know, and some have experienced that either through having surgeries or an accident or being injured some way and to have that removed from their life, they really and truly appreciate it when it comes back. And it doesn’t always come back to the full extent. But you know, you work with it. But for someone that never truly had it to the full extent that people without a disability experiences, it can really mean a world of difference. And I really tuned in on it, and saw that it was something to pay attention to, and something to be grateful for. And as much as I appreciate my independence, I want others to experience as much as independence as they can have. So and not to the word limit, not for to be a negative, but sure to realize your limitations and push them. Your limitations can always change. You know, right now, my limitation is this. But to always strive for more, and you may be able to accomplish more, but if you never try, you’ll never know. So…

Tony Delisle  39:39

Wow, I love what you’re saying there. You talk about gratitude, and being grateful, and wanting to give back to others because of that gratitude, and how it really does seem to connect there with your motivation to serve. And I think there’s a very powerful place for all of us to really think about where we may take Granted some of those things that we’re able to do in our daily life. So you’re right, all it takes is a twisted ankle to realize perhaps, we’ve been taken for granted our independence and often health and all these other kinds of things. And I really like that you link that up together, that’s so powerful, because because I think that brings us intelligence, the present moment, and what should we be all aware and thankful for. And I think if we’re able to do what you’re getting out of this here, I think that would go a long way in bringing us together, really do you know, it’s easy to slip into what makes us different and, you know, kind of you be a negative and offended and all these other kinds of things. But when we can really be grateful for what we have, I think we don’t have any room for that part in our heart anymore, can really get together, you know, and serve one another, like you, because of the gratitude, you want to help other people. And so that’s just, that’s wonderful.

Kathy Elkins  40:53

Thank you.

Tony Delisle  40:54

Yeah, well, thank you, thank you for for all that you do and really advocating for people and getting out there to really allow people to live independently, you know, I can’t have that I think independence wouldn’t be possible for people who are deaf, if they didn’t have a sign language interpreter, with them in the clinics, with them in the offices, with them in the schools with them, wherever they may need one to, you know, be a part of our community, and to feel welcome in our community, and really hope that, you know, people will go out of their way to get interpreters for them, especially when it’s their preferred way of communicating with people. And what a wonderful cause to be a part of, there’s still a lot of work to be done in this area. And I look forward to seeing what you and others who are just so talented and driven to do, what you can do, what impacts we still have ahead of us, you know, for the good. So I just want to acknowledge you very grad grateful for you and for what you contribute here to the Center for consumers for our center. And just for anyone that you touch there, Kathy, its really wonderful. I enjoyed our conversation and I know many other people will. Until next time, we look forward to connecting and learning more from one another unity through disability. Onward and upward.

Kathy Elkins  42:05

Onward and upward.

Tony Delisle  42:06

Love it Kathy. Thank you.

Kathy Elkins  42:07

Thank you.

Amy Feutz  42:11

Thanks for listening to the independent life podcast brought to you by the Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida. If you like what you hear, please rate review and subscribe. And if you know anyone who might benefit from listening, share this podcast and invite them to subscribe to for questions, suggestions, or if you have a story you’d like to share, please email us or call us at 352-378-7474. Thanks for joining us. Until next time, support, advocate and empower each other to live the independent life.