On Friday April 28th, as President of TRID, I was in attendance at a meeting of the committee that is drafting the Interpreter Licensure Bill. We received the bill back from the lawyers and policy professionals. We then cleared up some of the questions they proposed to us by refining the language included in the bill. No substantive changes were made to the bill. The next steps will be for the medium size writing group to review the changes and develop a FAQ sheet. After that we will make the bill available to all stakeholders for public comment. There will be an opportunity for a town hall type discussion of the bill in the large group where this work originally began before it is POTENTIALLY sent to prospective sponsors.
*IMPORTANT this is NOT the finished wording of the licensure legislation. None of this has been set in stone. The document is still in a fluid state.*
The licensure committee's goal is to assure that sign language interpreters possess the necessary skills and qualifications and that a board be established to prescribe the qualifications of sign language interpreters and to issue licenses to persons who demonstrate their ability and fitness for the licenses. This part is intended to establish and maintain a standard of competency for individuals engaged in the practice of sign language interpreting and for the protection of the public, in general, and for individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing whose rights to effective communication is affected by the competency of sign language interpreters.
practice of sign language interpreting: "rendering to individuals, groups, organizations, government agencies, corporations, post-secondary educational settings, or the general public communication services involving the interpreting or transliterating of spoken language into a manual or signed language, or the appearance of such."
- Must be licensed in order to use the title of sign language interpreter
- Licensure not required for emergency situation, religious entities excluded by the ADA, K-12 setting
Creation of Tennessee board of sign language interpreting:
- (9) members to serve staggered terms nominated from a variety of agencies that are related to deafness and interpreting
- governor shall consider the recommendations of the board for membership
The board shall have the duty and responsibility to:
- Act on matters concerning licensure and permits, and the process of granting, suspending, reinstating and revoking a license or permit.
- Establish and maintain requirements for ethical behavior of interpreters including but not limited to conflict of interest provisions.
- Establish a procedure for the investigation of complaints against licensed or permit holding interpreters. Set a fee schedule for granting licenses, permits, renewals and reciprocal licenses.
- Maintain a current registry of licensed interpreters and permit holders. Registries shall be a matter of public record.
- Maintain complete records of all proceedings of the board.
- Adopt rules for continuing education requirements.
- Establish fines for practicing Sign language interpreting without a license.
- Any person who knowingly undertakes or attempts to undertake the practice of sign language interpreting for remuneration without first having procured a license, who knowingly presents or files false information with the board for the purpose of obtaining a license shall be subject to a civil fine.
- Each day of practice is a separate offense. A person who is not licensed may not bring or maintain any action to recover payment for sign language interpreting services that the person performed in violation of this part.
- The board shall set reasonable fines on an annual basis.
Suspension and revocation of a license:
- If a licensed sign language interpreter becomes unqualified to hold a license in the state of Tennessee, the board may suspend a license.
- Anyone may file a complaint regarding violation
- Issues regarding inappropriate behavior, lack of professionalism, violation of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Code of Professional Conduct can be referred to the governing body at the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
Qualification for licensure:
- Will include age, background check, educational requirements, citizenship
- Provisional and grandfathering in are included with minimal requirements and letters of recommendation.
*Most important to remember is that there will still be time to have input on the legislation as part of the larger stakeholder group after the lawyers have sent the legally worded version back to the writing group. Currently there is not a specific date that the legislation is expected to be sent to the lawmakers.*