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Our History

In the 1960s, the United States Government began passing legislation aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities, including the right to post-secondary education for individuals who were Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind.


The lack of educational access for the Deaf was a significant issue nationwide. A priority emerged to train friends and family members, who were traditionally "signers" for the Deaf, to become professional interpreters.


A grant from the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration funded a series of workshops titled "Guidelines for Interpreting for the Deaf" for these "signers." Participants of these workshops eventually formed the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) in 1964. RID then developed state subchapters. Kenneth Huff, the first RID president, was also the superintendent of the Wisconsin School for the Deaf.


In 1969, June Carr of the Milwaukee Hearing Society and Evelyn Zola, a Deaf member of the National Association of the Deaf, attended a national workshop on Community Service for the Adult Deaf in Texas. Inspired by this, they organized a pilot program in Wisconsin to train individuals with signing skills in the principles of interpreting. Members of that training group became RID members in 1970.


Also in 1970, RID president Kenneth Huff invited RID to hold its first convention at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan from July 21-24. The first RID convention was a significant success and served as a model for future conventions.


The Wisconsin Chapter of RID (WisRID) was officially formed in November 1970, with Evelyn Zola elected as the first president.


WisRID quickly established itself as a professional organization. In its early years, WisRID collaborated with the Wisconsin Association of the Deaf (WAD), engaging in professional development and advocacy. Fundraising efforts were undertaken, and members attended national conventions to contribute to critical discussions within the interpreting community.


From its inception, WisRID focused on certification and high standards for interpreters, taking significant initiatives to get Wisconsin interpreters certified by RID.


Throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, WisRID members worked hard to influence the implementation of Interpreter Training Programs, support initial licensing procedures for educational K-12 interpreters, SC:L Legal interpreters, and Wisconsin state licensure. WisRID also hosted workshops and conferences to educate interpreters and stakeholders and established scholarships and training funds.


Today, WisRID continues to foster professional development, advocate for high standards in interpreting, and provide a network for interpreters to share resources and knowledge. The organization aims to ensure that Deaf individuals have access to qualified interpreters by promoting effective communication and accessibility in various settings, including educational, medical, legal, and social services.

Past Presidents: Donovan Smith, Jodie Nigro and Anna Johnson

Eve Dicker Eiseman


Sept, 2022,  Annual Conference in Wisconsin Dells


Jon Thomm


Christina Destrampe

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Anna Johnson


Maria Kielma

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Tim Mumm


Margaret James


Jodie Nigro


Susan Gallanis

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Susan Gordon

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Linda Lonning

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Liz Oppenheimer


WisRID Presidents

Sara Kay Gengler (2024 - Present) 

Jon Thomm (Aug 2020 - 2021)  (2022 - 2023)


Donovan Smith (2020) 

Jodie Nigro (2018 - 2019)  

Christina Destrampe (2015 - 2017)

Susan Gallanis (2011 - 2014)

Anna Johnson  (2010 - 2011)

Susan Gordon  (2007 - 2009)

Maria Kielma (2005 - 2006)

Cassie Schellfeffer (Franklin)  (2003-2004)

Laurie Sanheim (Heesen)  (2002-2003)

Linda Lonning  (2000-2002)

Theresa Hedges (Schmechel)  (1999-2000)

Brenda Walker Ocacio  (1997-1998)

Chris Prudhom  & Brenda Walker Ocacio  (1996-1997)

Tim Mumm (1992-1995)

Liz Oppenheimer   (1990-1991)

Margaret James  (1989-1990)

Rick Harris & Margaret James (1989-1990)

Patty Kolpiteke  (1986-1988)

Carol Morrison Schweitzer (1984-1985)  

Thomasine Teske (1983-1984)

Leo Dicker (1981-1982)

Michael Cinatl (1976-1980)

Evelyn Zola  (1970-1975)

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