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If you have been asked to provide a Sign Language Interpreter
Providers may have a legal obligation to provide accommodations such as sign language interpreters in specific settings. The main goal is effective communication between the consumer who is deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing and the provider. Both parties must engage in an interactive process.
The first step when hiring an interpreter should always be to determine what will provide equal communication access to the person who requested the interpreter. An individual who communicates using sign language interpreters is legally entitled to receive all the same information, services, and have the same interactions, as a person who does not require the accommodation. This can only be done by assessing both the type of communication and setting involved AND the needs of the specific individual receiving the accommodation. Determining an individual’s needs should be an interactive process. Efforts to secure a qualified interpreter should begin as soon it becomes apparent one may be needed. Unreasonable delay in doing so may result in a legal finding of a failure to provide a required accommodation if the delay results in the unavailability of a qualified interpreter.
The individual who receives the accommodation should be involved in selecting the appropriate interpreter for his or her needs, as well as in determining whether effective communication is achieved. Effective communication is not a one size fits all philosophy. Each individual communicates differently.
Michigan Standard Levels and Endorsements
The Standard Levels recognize four categories of settings and indicate the type of valid Michigan issued credentials an interpreter must possess in order to be considered qualified to work in each. Each Standard Level reflects a given level of expected proficiency for qualified interpreters. Each level establishes the minimum credentials necessary to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing consumer and the interpreters working in specific proceedings.
In Michigan, Endorsements are required for qualified interpreters who are eligible to work in various Standard Level proceedings that involve DeafBlind persons, and in educational, legal, and medical/mental health settings. The main rationale behind issuing these Endorsements is to endorse interpreters as uniquely qualified to provide effective communication in specific specialized settings. A DeafBlind Endorsement is required in all settings to interpret for a person who is deafblind. An Educational Endorsement is required to interpret in either Elementary or Secondary educational settings. A Medical/Mental Health Endorsement is required to interpret in either medical or mental health settings. A Legal Endorsement is required to interpret in legal settings.