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00:00:10In this section, we will look at sign language interpreter certification and the
00:00:14unique challenges courts face in ensuring interpreters comply with interpreter standards.
00:00:20This section will also explore techniques to assist courts in making sure effective
00:00:25communication takes place.
00:00:27While there are other accommodations appropriate for non-sign language users in court,
00:00:31this video focuses on the use of American Sign Language and English interpretation as a
00:00:37reasonable accommodation.
00:00:47Certification is also an important factor for interpreters to measure their skills.
00:00:57I heard at some point a number of years ago that the average amount of time from
00:01:01graduation from the interpreter training program to certification, I think it, was seven
00:01:08I don't know if that's still the case today, but certainly, there's a wide range-there
00:01:13are interpreters that graduate from an interpreter training program and fairly quickly
00:01:19have the skills to get certified.
00:01:20There are others who work for many many years.
00:01:23So certification is another way to be reassured that the interpreter has met at least a
00:01:28minimum standard.
00:01:31For court work there is highly specialized vocabulary which means...words mean things
00:01:40that they don't mean in other settings, and so understanding the vernacular of the court both languages...again...
00:01:51so I may have an understanding of a term in English that might be used in a courtroom
00:01:57situation, but not know the corresponding term in American Sign Language, or vice versa.
00:02:05Many sign language interpreters learned ASL as adults in post-secondary education
00:02:08programs as a career.
00:02:11Their fluency is directly related to the amount of time and effort spent immersed in the
00:02:15language and culture.
00:02:19For other second language learners, the road to fluency often involves a trip overseas to
00:02:23live in the language and the culture of the land.
00:02:27Deaf-land, however, does not exist.
00:02:31Interpreters for the deaf, who are not born into the language and the culture, must find
00:02:36a community willing to let them in to learn the language and the culture.
00:02:40For some, while they may possess the 'book learning' provided by community college sign
00:02:44language programs, the entry into the community of native learners never happens.
00:02:49As a result there is a wide variety in interpreter's skills as well.
00:02:53Some are good at signing in the English methods, and very few are good at ASL.
00:02:59For the most part, sign language interpreters, now-a-days, are
00:03:02second language learners.
00:03:04And so the challenge for a deaf person working with us often times is making sense out of
00:03:10what we think we're making sense with, but we aren't.
00:03:13So, because it's not my native language, my structures may be acceptable, but not
00:03:20necessarily accurate and so sometimes, the deaf person has to sort of do the work to
00:03:27figure out what it is that I mean.
00:03:31Not all interpreters have the same level of ability in working in to that second language
00:03:39and so for some, the deaf person who's working with them has to do a lot more work than
00:03:48they have to do working with others who are more experienced or
00:03:52simply better language learners.
00:03:57Some interpreters are good at hearing the English and putting the signs into English word
00:04:03order and so that will work for those individuals who are able, much as Libby is, to
00:04:10understand English, but it will not work with a individual who does not have an English
00:04:16language base.
00:04:27Finding the right interpreter is a key for reasonable accommodation and equal access.
00:04:32While there are many types of sign language interpreter certifications, the courts can
00:04:36reference the Supreme Court of Ohio Bench Card, Working with Interpreters for the Deaf or
00:04:41Hard of Hearing Persons in the Courtroom for a quick reference guide to
00:04:44select the interpreter.
00:04:46For a more detailed description of what's mentioned in the bench card, please look at
00:04:50Appendix G of Interpreters in the Judicial System: Handbook for Ohio Judges and you may
00:04:56also visit the interpreters for the deaf web site at RID.ORG
00:05:03Over the years, the names for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf or RID
00:05:07certificates have changed.
00:05:09The key thing to remember is that the RID has had tests for both ASL interpretation as
00:05:14well as interpretation using signed English, also called transliteration.
00:05:19Currently, there is only one test called the National Interpreting Certificate.
00:05:23This certificate has three levels and holders should be able to work with a variety of
00:05:27deaf people using a variety of methods.
00:05:30A qualified interpreter for court and legal settings must have been tested in
00:05:35interpreting in American Sign Language since that is the majority of the deaf litigants
00:05:39the court will face.
00:05:42The Supreme Court of Ohio recommends that interpreters assigned to court cases hold a
00:05:46Special Certificate: Legal from RID.
00:05:49And if this specialized interpreter cannot be reasonably located, courts may consider
00:05:53candidates with lesser credentials.
00:05:56However, courts may wish to require these candidates to have at least 80 hours of legal
00:06:00interpreter training.
00:06:02In the next scenes, we will look in more detail at these credentials and the associated
00:06:07methods of interpretation.
00:06:17Tell us your name and address for the record.
00:06:34My name is Randy Luzzo and my address is 755 3rd street, that's Grandview
00:06:39Ohio 43222.
00:06:46Transliteration attempts to convey the actual words being
00:06:48spoken in English word order.
00:06:51This method does not express the meaning of the words only a code for the words.
00:06:57If the deaf person does not already know English, they will not
00:07:00understand the transliteration.
00:07:02Transliteration generally uses signs from signed English and also the manual alphabet
00:07:07which spells out each letter of the word l-i-k-e-t-h-i-s.
00:07:16The ability to understand fingerspelling is dependent upon one's
00:07:19abilities in written English.
00:07:21Transliteration is thought to be quicker than interpreting because the signer can start
00:07:25almost immediately after the speaker begins the utterance since the interpreter does not
00:07:30have to manipulate the grammar.
00:07:32However, when used with a deaf person who does not understand, it takes far more time,
00:07:37effort and money to go back and repeat the communication
00:07:40than to get it right the first time.
00:07:51Tell us your name and address for the record.
00:07:58My name is Randy Luzzo and my address is 755 3rd street, and that's
00:08:07Grandview Ohio.
00:08:09The zip code is 43222.
00:08:15Courts like transliteration.
00:08:17It seems faster.
00:08:18It appears as if the interpreter is working verbatim.
00:08:21It fits the paradigm that the deaf person is simply an American who cannot hear.
00:08:26It is effective for about a quarter of Deaf adults, however, in legal settings, the
00:08:31English is unique and most likely outside of the experience-and therefore
00:08:36incomprehensible-to even the quarter of deaf people who might use signed English.
00:08:42It's effectiveness in legal settings is probably minimal.
00:08:47Having an interpreter with the specific certification, SC:L, is paramount to providing
00:08:54appropriate services, particularly because we're talking about a legal situation.
00:09:01The interpreter with an SC:L certification has the background, the vocabulary, the
00:09:10knowledge of the legal system and has trained and passed certain tests.
00:09:17So, that person would be the person, I think, to assess the language of the client and
00:09:29make that determination as to what would be the best language match.
00:09:35It's my personal belief that interpreters who are not certified do not belong in the
00:09:45Legal specialist certification requires the completion of three steps.
00:10:11I urge the courts to recognize Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI's).
00:10:17Use of a CDI is very effective.
00:10:20It's a wonderful way to establish communication with low-verbal deaf individuals.
00:10:24Those people might not understand English or understand signing in English word order.
00:10:29And the way that works is that a hearing interpreter signs in American Sign Language and
00:10:32a certified deaf interpreter takes their message and modifies it so that a deaf person
00:10:37can understand it in a way that makes sense to them- they might incorporate gesture and
00:10:41body language in to their message and make sure the deaf person understands it clearly.
00:10:48Also that deaf person might be signing in a way that the hearing interpreter might not
00:10:51fully be able to understand and so the deaf interpreter takes what they're signing and
00:10:56produces it in a way that the hearing interpreter can understand and the hearing
00:10:59interpreter voices it for the court.
00:11:02It's critical to have certified interpreters for many deaf people here in Ohio.
00:11:08Too often environment, education, and biology conspire against a deaf person and deprive
00:11:14her of the ability to acquire a solid base of language of any kind, be
00:11:19it English or ASL.
00:11:22Recall that when deaf kids of deaf parents were in the classroom, they frequently
00:11:26functioned as secret "interpreters" behind their teacher's backs.
00:11:31This role has been professionalized to what is called "deaf interpreters" whose use is
00:11:36invaluable in the courtroom to ensure the deaf participant is linguistically present.
00:11:42Traditionally, legal settings are the most common venue in which deaf interpreters work.
00:11:49"Who did you see at the scene of the accident?" signing
00:12:06signing "I saw the other driver get out of the car and run between the houses."
00:12:43You can see from the preceding clip, that
00:12:45when a deaf interpreter is present, the process endures a second interpretation.
00:12:50While it may take longer or seem cumbersome, for a substantial portion of deaf people,
00:12:55it is a necessary process if they are to have equal access to justice.
00:13:00Information may be missing from a deaf person's life experience that people who can
00:13:04hear take for granted.
00:13:06There are holes then in the person's real world knowledge.
00:13:09Deaf interpreters are uniquely aware of these gaps and are able to produce
00:13:13comprehensible interpretations despite these gaps.
00:13:17Deaf interpreters in court have been used as long as deaf participants
00:13:21have been in court.
00:13:23The benefit of a deaf interpreter cannot be overstated as they provide the court with a
00:13:28native interpretation that is generally unavailable to even the most talented interpreter
00:13:33who can hear.
00:13:35Because of the unique skills and contribution offered by Deaf interpreters, the RID
00:13:40provides an interpreting test and certification for them.
00:13:52A problem with interpreting, whether it is spoken language or sign, is that the
00:13:56monolingual parties are at the mercy of the interpreter.
00:14:00Not knowing the language, the court has no effective mechanism to gauge the accuracy of
00:14:03the interpretation.
00:14:07Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, now is the time when I have the opportunity to explain
00:14:11to you some of your duties as jurors that may seem odd to you.
00:14:15During the trial, there may be times when the attorneys need to discuss a point of
00:14:19evidence with me and we will handle that in one of two ways: either I will excuse you
00:14:23from the room if the conversation appears lengthy, or the attorneys will approach the
00:14:28bench and we will discuss the matter right here if the discussion will not be extensive.
00:14:38If the interpreter appears to be working, then they must be working accurately.
00:14:43The court should disabuse itself of this notion and take steps to minimize problems.
00:14:48Courts should: Voir dire the interpreter to determine skills, knowledge and conflicts
00:14:54of interest.
00:14:56Swear in the interpreter to impress upon them the importance of accurate interpreting
00:15:16Untrained interpreters are poor candidates for court assignments.
00:15:20We cannot emphasize enough the video recording of these proceedings.
00:15:24Taping of the witness' testimony and the interpretation is a good way to provide a record
00:15:29of the original testimony and the interpretation in case disagreements arise regarding
00:15:34the accuracy of the interpretation.
00:15:37Often counsel will hire their own expert sign language interpreter who will sit at
00:15:42counsel table serving in part as a check on the work of the court's interpreter.
00:15:48The table interpreter preserves counsel's ability to object to any misinterpretations in
00:15:52a timely manner for appeal.
00:15:55This interpreter also interprets privileged communications between attorney and client
00:15:59at the table.
00:16:02You should not be surprised when this happens, as it provides and additional guarantee
00:16:06that the interpretation is accurate, and court interpreters are trained to handle this
00:16:10type of monitoring.
00:16:13"What did you see at the scene of the accident?" "I saw the other driver get out of the
00:16:17car and run between the houses." Signing "He's saying no that's not true that's not
00:16:25what happened.
00:16:28I was driving and it was the passenger who got out and ran between the houses.
00:16:33I stayed in the car...that's not what happened." "Okay, I'll ask on cross".
00:16:42"Oh and make sure to ask if he was wearing a coat...ask that okay?"
00:16:49"Okay, tell him I'll ask."
00:16:59Another challenge for courts is what is called the 'deaf nod' which is
00:17:03actually a linguistic feature of ASL discourse.
00:17:06While the interpreter is signing, the deaf person is nodding.
00:17:10This is commonly mistaken as a sign of agreement by non-signers.
00:17:14It is not.
00:17:15It is more accurately interpreted as "Yes, I understand what you are signing" not "Yes,
00:17:22I agree with the content of what you are saying."
00:17:26"Ladies and gentle man of the jury, now is the time when I have the opportunity
00:17:29to explain to you some of your duties as jurors that may seem odd to you.
00:17:33During the trial, there may be times when the attorneys need to discuss a point of
00:17:37evidence with me and we will handle that in one of two ways: either I will excuse you
00:17:42from the room if the conversation appears lengthy, or the attorneys will approach the
00:17:46bench and we will discuss the matter right here if the discussion will not be extensive."
00:17:59Because the majority of people can hear, most of our social structures are designed for
00:18:03hearing people to the point of limiting participation by deaf individuals.
00:18:08In most cases, hearing people heavily influence the way deaf people
00:18:12interact with social structures.
00:18:15As a result, deaf people may feel controlled in many aspects of their lives,
00:18:19particularly in medical, educational and legal settings.
00:18:24Deaf people are always in the minority and often not consulted about
00:18:27their best interest.
00:18:30Because deaf and hard-of-hearing persons have traditionally felt overpowered by people
00:18:34who can hear, they may instinctively accommodate hearing persons.
00:18:39Courts should be aware of this accommodation by deaf people and take the time to test
00:18:41out assumptions.
00:18:52Imagine how lost and frustrated you would feel sitting through a proceeding in which you
00:18:56cannot understand what is being said.
00:18:58What percent of accuracy would you require of your interpreter if you were being tried
00:19:03in a foreign country?
00:19:05Is 50 percent of the information accurately interpreted enough?
00:19:0970 percent?
00:19:11What percent would be acceptable to you?
00:19:14Since it is unlikely that proceedings in the American judicial system will ever be
00:19:18conducted in ASL, accommodations must be made to ensure the deaf person is linguistically
00:19:23present in court.
00:19:28What did you see at the scene of the accident?
00:19:31I saw the other driver get out of the car and run between the houses.
00:19:38"No, hey that's not true.
00:19:40No, no that's not true.
00:19:43I stayed in the car and it was the passenger who got out and ran away...not me.
00:19:47And also, ask them if the passenger was wearing a should ask that.
00:19:52It wasn't me. Don't blame me!"
00:19:55"Ladies and gentlemen, I need to interrupt counsel for a moment as I
00:19:59have just received word that another jury I am hearing has reached a verdict on another
00:20:03case in another courtroom, so I am going to ask for your patience while I take a short
00:20:07recess to receive their verdict and thank them for their service."
00:20:13"All rise. This court is now in recess."
00:20:22Choosing the accommodation may seem difficult but it can be done.
00:20:25Here is what the court can do:
00:20:50The court can understand some of the linguistic issues
00:20:53in a visual language and do its part to ensure that the participants do not misunderstand
00:20:57the nature of ASL interpretation.
00:21:01Finally, the court can implement a set of checks, including videotaping the
00:21:05interpretation and testimony, and allowing an ASL interpreter at counsel table to ensure
00:21:10that counsel is armed with the means to identify inaccurate or unethical interpreting.
00:21:16Armed with these tools, the court will be able to ensure that the deaf citizen has
00:21:21appropriate and complete access to justice.
00:21:26We hope that you have found this video useful and informative.
00:21:30As you have learned, deaf individuals have a variety of communication needs that can be
00:21:36specifically identified by looking at their background, education and linguistic
00:21:42experience of the individual.
00:21:45Even though deaf individuals make up a small number of the total cases, courts are,
00:21:50nevertheless, required to provide people with disabilities equal access to all of their
00:21:56programs, services, and activities.
00:22:01In a broader scope, courts must make reasonable accommodations and modifications to
00:22:06their policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to avoid exclusion.
00:22:13Courts must ensure that communications with parties, witnesses, and jurors with
00:22:20disabilities are as effective as communications with parties, witnesses or jurors who are
00:22:27not disabled.
00:22:29We hope that this video helps you in accomplishing this goal.
00:22:34Thank you for taking part in this training.
Note : Transcripts are compiled from uncorrected captions