Fun Facts: First of his family born and raised in the US, Matt speaks fluent Bulgarian. He’s lived on the east and west coasts of the US and is a huge hockey fan.
Ainsley: Matt, your bio on the HIS Sign website shows a history of working with major corporations in the DC area. What brought you to a more modest company like HIS Sign?
Matt: I think as I became at least a little more mature, I wanted to do something that was a bit more rewarding. While it is nice to get more money from investments with larger companies, I didn’t feel it to be as rewarding as providing a service that is much needed for students as well as other people that are hearing impaired. I also feel it rewarding to work with organizations that are very grateful for the hard work you put in. That’s what attracted me to the vision that Brian and Christina had for HIS Sign and what we would be able to accomplish together.
Ainsley: Congratulations on your four-year anniversary with the company! What do you like best about HIS Sign and its vision?
Matt: Thank you. You know, I like that the original intention of HIS Sign was to provide interpreters for students particularly in the county I live in – Loudoun County. Obviously, we have grown from there. I really thought that Brian and Christina were doing something great in giving back to the community they’ve lived in for so long. I want to do the same.
Ainsley: Good for you Matt! And that’s a big win for the community! As the Account Executive, is it safe to assume there are challenges that come along with this role? And if so, would you like to share any of those?
Matt: (Laughs) How much time do you have?
Matt: I’ve had this type of position with various organizations in the past, and many of the challenges are the same across the board. I think being able to share the company’s vision with others can be quite hard. I prefer more face to face meetings; but in this era most people prefer email and phone. But not being able to always ‘sit down with people’ is one challenge. Also, in this area, there are a lot of agencies that have various specialties as well, and we must distinguish ourselves. I believe because HIS Sign has been around for 10 years and has grown steadily, we are able to stand out. We also very much value our customers and interpreters. Based on messages I have received from individuals in both groups, they really appreciate that and I think we all win by having this strong relationship with one another.
Ainsley: I see. Have you had any outstanding experiences with any of our customers you’d like share?
Matt: Yeah! The Flying Dog Brewery is a nice customer based in Frederick, MD where there is a very large Deaf population. They have gone beyond what they needed to do to support the Deaf community. So, there were times they were doing multiple brewery tours in the same week to accommodate the various schedules of Deaf patrons. They’ve done concerts and other programs to bring the Deaf community together. I know several staff members from HIS Sign have been in attendance too! I think it’s a very cool thing to do. A lot of other organizations just do what is NEEDED of them. But for a company to kind of think outside the box like Flying Dog and make the effort to impress and accommodate the Deaf and Hearing Impaired in this area, they are helping support their potential neighbors, friends, and former colleagues as well. We hope to continue to work and explore other ideas with them.
Ainsley: That’s fantastic! How would you encourage other local organizations/companies to be accessible to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing?
Matt: Many are doing well. I think a lot of people or businesses can reach out to the Deaf community to see what THEY think can be done to better support that community. Some are quite new at this, so it’s not uncommon for us to receive calls from new customers saying, “I’ve been in this position 20 years and this is the first time someone has called in need of interpreting services.“ So, I like walking people through this, as this is what we’re here to do as an agency. For organizations that aren’t as familiar with supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, just doing research and seeing what they can do by having some sort of round table with local community leaders and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community would be a good idea. Obviously, the internet is a very powerful tool. They can look and see the success in what others are doing.
Ainsley: Those are good suggestions I’m sure many can easily employ. Is there something you would like to do personally to raise more awareness?
Matt: One of my weaknesses is I do not know how to sign. So, some of the interpreted events I have attended … I get a little lost. We have several HIS Sign staff members that are fluent in ASL though, and it’s great to attend these events with them, or even get feedback from them after the event! But from my perspective … I always want to do more as everyone at HIS Sign does. I just need to explore more ways to be kind of at the forefront of some of these events and tradeshows so I can communicate with Deaf patrons directly. It would be great to get some consistent basic training perhaps from some of our seasoned colleagues.
Ainsley: I’m sure they’ll be reading this and would be happy to help out! Lastly Matt, and totally unrelated to anything we’ve discussed … I know you love to travel. If money were no object, and you could visit anyplace in the world, where would a Washington Caps fan such as yourself go?
Matt: Haha! I would like to go to New Zealand. It’s a fairly large country in terms of mountains, beaches and they have a large city. I think from pictures and what I’ve read, I think that would be a very unique place to explore. Also, having lived in Europe too, I’ve gotten to see a lot of countries there. While they vary, I think going somewhere completely southern hemisphere and far away, you’re kind of isolated on an island, and I’m a big island fan too … that is the place I would choose. I would pretty much go anywhere in the world, but if money were no object, and time wasn’t relevant either because we have kids, that would be where I’d go.”
Ainsley: Matt, Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to share a little more about yourself and relate helpful information for readers looking to be more supportive to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.
Matt: Oh, my pleasure!