By Justin Zaun
DCMA Garden City
My DCMA showcases the Defense Contract Management Agency’s experienced and diverse workforce and highlights what being a part of the national defense team means to them. Today we meet Marina Racz-Distler.
My name is Marina Racz-Distler and this is “My DCMA.”
I am a management analyst at DCMA Garden City in the mission support office. I ensure the organization’s strategic plan, mission, vision, and values are integrated into the team’s strategies, objectives, products, and services. I also coordinate with junior management analysts on metrics data related to budget, personnel, and training, analyzing performance data, and recommending process changes as needed.
I enjoy working at DCMA and have been part of the DCMA team for more than 33 years. Throughout my career, I feel I have made an impact on the organization, especially in the area of communications technology for deaf employees. I have successfully taught my colleagues how to work with a deaf person like me.
Over the years, I have helped spearhead DCMA’s transition from using a text telephone, known as TTY, and a telecommunications device for the deaf, or TDD, to a more modern videophone.
With TTY technology, I communicated with colleagues by transmitting messages on a small keyboard, and the person on the other end of the conversation also needed to have a TTY device, or a relay service. A relay service requires an operator, who speaks the TTY message into a telephone and/or listens on a telephone and types the message on a TTY.
Currently, I use a video relay service, commonly called VRS, which is a telecommunications tool that allows deaf and hard of hearing people, who use American Sign Language, to communicate through video equipment in real time with voice telephone users.
Video equipment links the VRS user with a communication assistant, who signs what the hearing party says and speaks what the deaf or hard of hearing party signs. Deaf people who use a video relay service have a designated videophone, and if the person they wish to call also has a videophone, they can call the person directly and have a video conversation in ASL. If the person they wish to call uses a voice telephone, the call will automatically be rerouted through a video relay service. This was a big advancement that I helped champion, and it has made a difference for deaf and non-deaf employee alike.
DCMA is vitally important to America’s warfighters. The agency was created to ensure efficient and consistent contract oversight. DCMA ensures contractors are meeting contract requirements and adhering to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and I am proud to support that mission.
My future career goals include passing down the knowledge I have learned throughout the years to the next generation. I am more comfortable working in the office and communicating with my colleagues in person rather than email and video conferences, so the recent pandemic has made my job more challenging.
Something unique about me is that I was born in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, a country located in Eastern Europe. I moved to America when I was 19 years old. Learning English was quite challenging back then when today’s technologies did not exist yet. I studied English by reading books, attending community college and socializing with other deaf peers. I am able to speak English, ASL, Russian, and Russian Sign Language. Currently, I feel more comfortable using ASL as my primary language to communicate. Thankfully, ASL interpreters do exist! I look forward to continuing to support the agency until retirement.
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