Thursday, March 15, 2007


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Hello! I am Paul Kiel. I am known as Deaf Advocate on many blogs and newsletters around the country. I have lived and experienced using sign language interpreters in many cities and states. I do encourage the state legislators to develop state legislation on certifying and licensing interpreters.

Can drivers drive car without license? NO - it is illegal to drive without license.

Can lawyers perform legal duties without license? NO - they have to pass the bar exam to be qualifed to work with clients.

Can doctors perform surgeries on patients without license? NO - they have to pass and be approved by state medical boards.

Can sign language interpreters work without license? NO - they have to be licensed in order to do any interpreting.

According to National Association of the Deaf's website under Advocacy Issues - Interpreting, it stated that, "The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) basically gives deaf and hard of hearing individuals the right to a qualified interpreter. However, the definition of "qualified interpreter" is very broad and does not establish the standards for the interprters before they are hired to provide interpreting services."

More states are interested in having ceritfication and licensing interpreters for all settings.

It is important to monitor who is interpreting.

It is imperative that we regulate, report and improve the interpreting profession.

It is a profession that needs checks and balances.

This helps weed out those unscrupuous individuals.

We do need a licensure to help us know what's going on and who are capable of doing the job.

This will help provide good interpreters with credit and identify the bad apples.

Having licensure will help improve interpreting services for Deaf and Hard of hearing.

I have been using sign language interpreters for more than 40 years. I have seen good and bad interpreters. I have bad experiences with bad interpreters. My experiences with bad interpreters are serious enough to require that all interpreters be licensed in order to be more professional in service delivery. I do demand and expect each interpreter who works for me to be licensed. I have the right to turn down any interpreters that are NOT licensed. I cannot trust anyone without license.

You as a consumer have a right to request for one. You can ask to see if he or she is licensed. If not, you can file a complaint with the state licensing board. This is why we do need the kind of system to keep interpreters in line with rules and policies.

I am sharing with you some of my experiences with some bad interpreters.

1. I was working for a housing project that had a hearing man. He claimed to be an interpreter. It was hard to read his signs and I have seen him misinterpret some of his clients in his office. He twisted the information from his clients when newspaper reporters were asking questions. He was even worse to the point of manipulting deaf clients. It was terrible experience.

2. I was working for a service agency that the director had a wife who claimed to be an interpreter. She was terrible at interpreting. She was so egostical and so selfish. The clients had hard time understanding her and she made so many mistakes that ruined the lives of clients.

3. I was visiting a town and there was a hearing guy who claimed to be interpreter. He only used fingerspelling and mouthed words to tell us what was going on. He did not even use ASL smoothly at all. He was so terrible that I had to leave.

4. I was working for a service agency that practiced nepotism and tokenism. The family claimed to be interpreters. They were only out to get money to finance themselves and they were so bad that I refused to use them to interpret for me. The clients suffered in many situations that I witnessed to the point of refusing to work for them anymore.

5. There has been problems in courts with bad interpreters. One interpreter misinterpreted the sex abuse case. A woman tried to tell police about her rape situation. The police did not understand. It took longer to explain by paper. The interpreter was unable to do the job.

6. Another situation was that the interpreter misquoted what the woman said in a rape case in the court. The interpreter said that they were "making love" when actually the man abused and raped brutally her. The court let the rapist go free. It is injustice for the deaf woman!

Speaking of injustice, we need to stop corruption, abuse and lack of professionalism in interpreting.

We deserve the right to have licensed interpreters who can do the job right and be professional at the same time!

This is why more and more states are working on licensing interpreters! It is beneficial for us all!

Go to the state legislators and tell them we do need licensure system to weed out bad interpreters!

Go for it! You will be glad you did it!


Paul J. Kiel

a tireless Deaf Advocate