New tiered sign language interpreter system takes effect


  • via Michigan department of Civil Rights' Facebook
Since July 7, a new system for sign language interpreters in Michigan requires different levels of expertise for different situations.

As Michigan civil rights law calls for, if someone is in need of an interpreter one needs to be provided to them, but up until now that interpreter did not need to have a specific level of vocabulary knowledge catered to different situations. 

With the new requirements there are three tiers of interpreters: general knowledge and education settings, moderately specialized knowledge such as government meetings and medical settings, and highly specialized knowledge such as psychiatric evaluations and legal procedure.

This comes as a positive change in context of the complicated history both Michigan and the nation have with recognizing the civil rights of people who are deaf or hard or hearing. 2007 was the first year Michigan, or for that matter any state, passed legislation mandating that interpreters need to meet certain criterion. Yet, only in 2014 was the criterion defined within administrative code. Still, various public sector entities are implementing and working out the kinks in providing proper deaf and hard of hearing interpreters and services.

These changes also have a large impact on any mental or physical health providers, along with anyone who provides legal services. All of these professions now legally are required to provide the tier of interpreter as dictated by the new requirements if requested by someone who is either fully deaf or hard or hearing.

As of now, the interpreter, interpreter agency, and interpreter educator database do not include the tier of each licensed person, but plans are underway to change that for current and future licensed interpreters.

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