Proposed bill would create state standard for sign language interpreters

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA/WBTW) – A South Carolina lawmaker wants to make sure deaf and hearing-impaired people in the state have access to qualified and certified sign language interpreters.

It’s called the “Sign Language Interpreters Act.”

The goal is to create state standards for sign language interpreters, which is a move to protect hearing impaired South Carolinians.

Right now, there aren’t any state certifications for interpreters.

“Our students are suffering and our community members are suffering,” said Joshua Holmes, sign language interpreter.

“Every day we continue without regulations in the state, we are putting deaf community members lives at risk,” said Mary Beth Grayson, with the SC Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

On Wednesday afternoon, a special senate subcommittee reviewed a bill to establish those regulations.

Hearing impaired community members say having a certified and effective interpreter is crucial.

“Interpreters will bypass the hard work to sign in a way that is good enough. Unfortunately, that good enough can be very dangerous in a hospital, legal or emergency situation,” said Anita McDaniel, with the SC Association of the Deaf. “My mother was admitted to the hospital two years ago. I waited in that waiting room for two hours for an interpreter. I was told many times there was not one available.”

But, some agencies fear the bill’s implementation will create larger gaps in services.

“With a group of folks already so small, if in fact they were not appropriately credentialed, we could end up with a student who may not receive the appropriate services,” said Emily Heatwole, with the SC Department of Education.

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