The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines “qualified interpreter” in its Title III regulation as:

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

This definition 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.

RID…Setting the Standard

Attempting to take over where the ADA leaves off with this definition, RID, in its role as the national association representing the profession, strives to maintain high standards for its members – above and beyond that required by the ADA. This elevates the interpreter holding RID credentials and sets the bar for interpreting services throughout the profession.

Possessing RID certification is a highly valued asset for an interpreter and helps you to stand above the rest. For the betterment of the profession and the service to the consumer, RID has a tri-fold approach to the standards it maintains for its membership:

  • RID’s Certification Programs strive to maintain strict adherence to nationally recognized, testing industry standards of validity, reliability, equity and legal defensibility.
  • Certified Maintenance Program (CMP) is an avenue through which the continued skill development of certified interpreters/transliterators is monitored and nourished
  • Ethical Practices System (EPS) and Code of Professional Conduct (CPC) are two vehicles which provide guidance and enforcement to professionalism and conduct. The EPS provides an opportunity for consumers to address concerns or file complaints regarding the quality of interpreter/transliterator services, and the CPC sets the standards to which all individuals holding RID certification are expected to adhere.

Learn more about RID’s Standard Practice Papers>>

The Growth of the Profession…

The growth and maturation of the profession has also created a movement in many states to consider state licensure requirements for its interpreters. Many states have passed the necessary legislation for this requirement. Learn more>>

In addition to an increased number of state licensure laws, there has also been a steady increase in the number of interpreter training/preparation programs (ITPs) available as well as professional training opportunities, such as workshops and conferences, offered at the local, state, regional and national level.

The Future of Interpreting…

With these advancements, “standards” or the “norm” for interpreters 15 years ago are really no longer relevant today.

All professions go through maturation phases. In nursing, there are delineated differences between an orderly, nurse’s aide, LVN and RN; in law, the same holds true between a legal secretary, a paralegal and an attorney. In many professions, such as nursing and law, states have implemented clear-cut requirements and standards for that profession including timelines and an organizational structure for when and how these requirements would be met.

We are at a point in the interpreting profession to not only witness but impact the progress and journey down this path.