State regulation of sign language and oral interpreters is a growing national concern.

The need for state regulation began in the early 1970s but pales in comparison to the effects produced by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was enacted in 1990. This landmark legislation transformed the face of professional interpreting and caused the demand for interpreting services to soar to unprecedented heights. The interpreting profession is still faced with an inadequate supply of individuals to meet the growing demand.

Nearly every state across the country is faced with the issue of regulating the interpreting profession and practice within their state. This is an issue of great importance considering the impact their decisions can have on the state of the profession as well as the quality of service consumers receive.

The ADA defines a “qualified interpreter” as one,

“…who is able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.”

This definition, unfortunately, continues to cause a great deal of confusion among consumers, service providers and professional interpreters. While the definition empowers deaf and hearing consumers to demand satisfaction, it provides no assistance to hiring entities (who are mandated by ADA to provide interpreter services) in determining who is “qualified” BEFORE services are provided.

This is a critical point. Without the tools or mechanisms to identify who has attained some level of competency, hiring entities are at a loss on how to satisfy the mandates of ADA in locating/providing “qualified” interpreter services.

Additional Resources

National Association of the Deaf – NAD lists a table of various state laws and requirements of interpreters.

360 Translations – This web site offers a table of  regulations governing interpreter requirements, state-by-state.