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Why should your state have interpreter licensure laws? #AskHoward

VIDEO DESC & TRANSCRIPT: The NAD logo appears on bottom right corner as a watermark. NAD CEO Howard A. Rosenblum sits at his desk, facing the camera.

HOWARD: Should there be interpreter licensure? Is licensure good or bad? The NAD recommends that states have interpreter licensure laws. Licensure makes it possible for states to establish minimum qualifications for interpreters to work in all kinds of settings that impact the daily lives of deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind people. Without licensure, interpreters could go into various situations without the proper qualifications. There would be no way to vet the qualifications of interpreters at jobs. Even though many interpreters are certified, other interpreters could volunteer without the appropriate qualifications for various situations such as legal matters, hospitals, mental health, academics, or one on one work. That’s what licensure can do. The NAD recommends that interpreter licensure laws be kept simple without any specific details. A good licensure law should have the following basics: grant the power to license interpreters to a state agency; decide which state agency is responsible for licensure –(such as a Commission for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing, or Office of Deaf/Hard of Hearing (ODHH), or another group that is appointed by the state); and outline the various powers and responsibilities of the agency, such as granting various levels of licensure based on specific skills. Remember, the licensure bill should not have detailed restrictions. The bill should also include giving the agency the power to set registration fees, determine punishments and fines, and conduct a grievance process. The simpler the licensure bill is, the easier it will be to pass into law. With a simple licensure bill, it would only be necessary to work with the legislature once to pass the bill into law and leave the law as is. The important details for licensure can be written as part of the rule making process under the state agency responsible, (again, such as a Commission for the Deaf/Hard of hearing or Office for the Deaf/Hard of hearing). That agency can set up a committee that includes deaf and hard of hearing people, interpreters, and business representatives that hire interpreters. That way all perspectives are included. This committee can establish rules that are appropriate for your state. These rules should include how interpreters can prove qualifications, such as through certifications, other testing, and alternative pathways. Special attention should be given to areas of interpreting that either have uncertain or no certifications, such as Certified Deaf Interpreters or Deaf Interpreters, Pro-Tactile/Tactile interpreters, and Tri-Lingual interpreters. The NAD encourages states to keep licensure laws as simple as possible, and put all the details for licensing in the rules which are easier to change to keep them up to date with best practices and standards. That way, you don’t have to go back to legislators to amend. The NAD recommends that if your state already has interpreter licensure, make sure your state reviews the laws and its rules. Are the requirements for licensure up to date, and do they make it possible for those who cannot get certified because there’s no testing available in their area or for their specific skill to work as interpreters? For people that live in states that do not have licensure, we encourage you to contact your State Association and the NAD. We can work together on how to pass an interpreter licensure law that best serves your state and ensure that all deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind people get the services they deserve. Licensure gives interpreters the same recognition of being a profession as is given to lawyers, doctors, and therapists. Thank you.

Video cuts to grey background with the NAD logo quickly changing in different bright colors from teal to white to black to hot pink to green to orange to teal to yellow to purple to finally the official NAD logo with copyright text underneath “The National Association of the Deaf (c) 2019 All Rights Reserved”.

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