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July 3, 2004

Deaf win better services

From: Carlisle Sentinel, PA - Jul 3, 2004

By John Hilton, July 3, 2004

State Rep. Jerry Nailor's legislation to require registration of those providing sign language or transliteration services to the deaf and hearing-impaired is headed to the governor's desk.

Nailor, R-88, expects Gov. Ed Rendell to sign the measure into law after the House and Senate agreed Wednesday on the final language in the bill.

The changes will bring Pennsylvania in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires "qualified" American Sign Language interpreters.

"This legislation will give people who hire interpreters confidence that they are receiving quality service," Nailor says. "Although many people mean well, American Sign Language is a very complex language. Those who are not properly trained can unknowingly make errors, causing serious complications and confusion for the deaf or hard of hearing."

Nailor serves on the Advisory Council for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired. He says the group asked him to back the legislation after he won passage of a bill last year creating state certification for sign language interpreters.

Too long 'ignored'

The deaf and hearing impaired "have been ignored by a long time by too many and it's just not right," Nailor adds.

The legislation would require individuals who provide or offer to provide interpreting or transliteration services to the deaf or hearing-impaired to be registered with the state.

In order to register, a person must complete an application, pay any required fees and prove he or she has passed an examination approved by the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing that tests knowledge and proficiency in interpreting and transliterating.

The registration would be valid for a period of two years for a $100 fee.

Some exemptions

Exemptions for registration include those providing interpreting at a religious service, school-related activity or during an emergency.

There also would be exceptions for those who interpret strictly as volunteers, at the request of a deaf or hearing impaired individual, for less than 14 days a year when the interpreter is not a resident of Pennsylvania, as part of a supervising internship with restrictions or when interpreting in a physician's office.

Anyone violating the law for the first time commits a summary offense and could face up to a $300 fine and 60 days in jail. A second violation is a third-degree misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of between $300 and $1,000 and 90 days in jail.

2004 The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.