Nguyện Trần Thuỷ Tiên, G-’16, received support from the U.S. Embassy and the White House to provide the deaf community in Việt Nam a translation of Vice President Kamala Harris’ presentation during her visit to the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam last week. According to Dr. Audrey C. Cooper, director of the master’s degree program in International Development, the United States Embassy in Hà Nội contacted Tiên after several people said that she was “the best and only” person capable of providing Deaf Interpreter services in American Sign Language. Tiên, a graduate of Gallaudet’s Master of Arts in Sign Language Education (MASLED) program, met with the embassy and declined the assignment, as she is not a Certified Deaf Interpreter. She also recommended that they contact the White House to arrange American CDI services. After further discussions, the U.S. Embassy arranged American CDI services and, with support from the White House, gave Tiên special permission to use the source content to translate into her primary language — Hồ Chí Minh Sign Language — and to post the translation on social media.

Cooper wrote, “This is historic; to our knowledge, Tiên is the first deaf person to be supported by the U.S. Embassy to interpret content for a head of state.” She added that the Vietnamese government has not recognized Vietnamese Sign Languages, there are no interpreter training programs in the country, and deaf interpreters do not currently provide interpretation services on television.

Tiên wrote: “My aim in preparing the translation was to show Việt Nam that deaf people can translate and interpret, and at the highest level. Showing this content through social media brings attention to this important service and area of work.”

Watch Vice President Harris’ interpreted speech.

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