Why Should You Hire A Qualified Interpreter

It’s the Law

According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, businesses who received government funding (including Medicaid and Medicare payments) are required to make their services “accessible” to all people with disabilities.  Typically when we think of “handicap accessible” we think of things such as wheelchair ramps.  But there are many other “accommodations” that are made for people with varying disabilities.  For example, menus are presented in Braille to those with visual disabilities.

For an individual who uses sign language to communicate, a qualified interpreter is an “accommodation” making the information “accessible” to those with varying degrees of hearing loss and/or loss of speech.

Refusing to provide this service, without cost to the client, can be grounds for a lawsuit, which is much more costly to a business than providing a sign language interpreter.

To Prevent Costly Mistakes

Many businesses will ask the Deaf person if they have a friend or family member to come with them to assist with communication.

The problem with this is that these individuals are often not qualified. Knowing sign language does not automatically make you an interpreter. They may know some “home” signs, used to communicate with their Deaf loved one at home but not proper sign language. American Sign Language is itself a foreign language.  It is not simply a matter of substituting an English word for a sign

Professional interpreters, on the other hand, are trained to be knowledgeable with the lingo associated with that particular profession in which they are working. They have the knowledge and training to extract the meaning from the specialized vocabulary and translate the concept accurately into the target language (American Sign Language).

If information is translated inaccurately, it could mean the loss of someone’s life (in the medical setting) or freedom (in the legal setting).

When a Deaf person learns that there was a misunderstanding on the part of either party, they could have legal grounds for a lawsuit based on the fact that a qualified interpreter was not provided.

In addition, these loved one need to be free to be just that, a supportive loved one, and not need to be relied upon to be the interpreter as well.  Depending on the situation, this could put undue stress on them in an already stressful moment. Imagine for a moment that your Deaf child is being diagnosed with cancer.  You as the parent are experiencing your own stress and need to be a comfort to your child. It would be very difficult for you to try to take on the role of interpreter as well.

Why Can’t We Just Write Notes?

For most Deaf people, English is not their first language.  Depending on their level of education, written English can be very difficult for the Deaf; both understanding what is written and accurately expressing themselves in written English.

Here again, miscommunication is a big risk that could have costly results.

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