Increase Communication Access for the Deaf: Fully Recognize RID Certifications in Missouri
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The Issue: The Sign Language Interpreter Shortage Crisis in Missouri
The demand for qualified sign language interpreters in Missouri and nationwide far exceeds the supply due to a well-documented variety of reasons. The result is fewer qualified interpreters available to serve our community’s most challenging assignments: felony, family, and juvenile court, all police interactions, and other assignments requested at the Missouri “Master” level.
The Crisis, Exacerbated
Missouri can’t utilize up to 113* qualified interpreters in these settings because current regulations designate the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf’s NIC and CI/CT certifications at only the Missouri Advanced level. This is comparable to 740 Missouri licensed sign language interpreters.
The problem is deepened because agencies, VRS centers, and other interpreter employers experience difficulty recruiting RID certified interpreters to relocate to Missouri from out of state. The lower designation is also a deterrent for Kansas and Illinois interpreters to get a Missouri license.
Further, NIC certified interpreters have been stymied since 2011 by a simple change in nomenclature when RID restructured the NIC from a 3-level system, eliminating the levels NIC Master and NIC Advanced. All passing candidates since 2011 are awarded what is simply called the "NIC", the same name of the level Missouri had previously converted to their Advanced level. Because the State of Missouri has not updated their interpreter rule book, this means no new nationally certified interpreters can work at the Master level.
Because the demand for interpreters at the Advanced level is so high, there is little incentive for some of our most talented and experienced interpreters to achieve the Master designation through the state's standard system. The result is less communication access for Deaf Missourians, particularly in serious courtroom and police settings.
Increase Deaf Communication Access: Fully Recognize RID Certifications in Missouri
MO-RID strongly recommends a simple change to help alleviate this crisis: MCDHH should change Rule 5 CSR 100-200.170(5)(C and E) Skill Level Standards to refer to the National Interpreter Certification (NIC) and the Certificate of Interpreting/Certificate of Transliterating (CI/CT) as equivalent to the Master Certification.
The qualification of these interpreters is well documented:
- NIC interpreters are held to a higher educational/experiential level than those who sit for Missouri’s standard test
- NIC interpreters demonstrate their ability to assess each interpreting situation to determine if they are qualified on very first task of the NIC interview and performance exam
- CI/CT certified interpreters are some of the most experienced professionals in the field by virtue that the exam was provided from 1988 through 2008
- Both NIC and CI/CT interpreters have demonstrated a commitment to the profession by investing in and preparing for a national test when the standard in Missouri since 1997 has been the state certification system
This change will cost no money to Missouri taxpayers. The direct benefit is approximately 113 more interpreters eligible to work at the Master level, including in the courts and with police, resulting in increased communication access for Deaf Missourians.
How to Take Action
- Sign this petition - we will snail mail the petition per their instructions as detailed in the link for #3
- Send your thoughts directly to Governor Greitens by taking his survey, identifying MCDHH as the agency and Rule 5 CSR 100-200.170(5)(C and E) Skill Level Standards
- Write/videotape a letter to MCDHH by Sept. 17 - follow their detailed directions on the link; the more individual messages they receive, the more likely they will take this action
- Encourage your interpreter and deaf friends, agency owners, VRS managers, court and hospital administrators to take steps 1-3
The Missouri Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf is Missouri's only statewide professional organization for sign language interpreters. Learn more about our history and vision here.
* From RID's searchable interpreter database; these numbers are the NIC and/or CI/CT certified interpreters residing in Missouri, plus those living in Kansas/Illinois within 60 miles of Kansas City and St. Louis.
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