THE SENATE

S.C.R. NO.

32

TWENTY-NINTH LEGISLATURE, 2017

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

H.D. 1

 

 

 

 

SENATE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

REQUESTING THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, OFFICE OF LANGUAGE ACCESS, AND DISABILITY AND COMMUNICATION ACCESS BOARD JOINTLY CONVENE A WORKING GROUP OF STAKEHOLDERS TO EXAMINE THE NEED FOR POSSIBLE REGULATION AND OVERSIGHT OF AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS AND AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER REFERRAL AGENCIES IN HAWAII.

 

 


WHEREAS, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters provide a critical service to deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and hearing individuals and public agencies in the State who wish to effectively communicate with each other in a variety of settings and circumstances; and

 

WHEREAS, the Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB) notes there is an increased need statewide for communication access provided by ASL interpreters, as reflected in the number of requests made to local interpreter referral agencies; and

 

WHEREAS, Hawaii has an existing network of ASL interpreters and ASL interpreter referral agencies that provide services throughout the State to assist with effective communication, including the listing by DCAB of ASL language interpreters credentialed through the DCAB's Hawaii Quality Assurance System for sign language interpreter services or through national certification, as well as ASL interpreter referral agencies; and

 

WHEREAS, DCAB currently tests and credentials ASL interpreters at the state level, while the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf certifies ASL interpreters at the national level, and a public listing is currently published that shows each certified interpreter or referral agency's level of credentials, preferred assignment types, island location, and contact information; and

WHEREAS, it is uncertain whether the anticipated future growth in ASL interpreter services requires regulation of these service providers through licensure, which is the highest level of regulation available for many other regulated and licensed professionals, such as doctors, audiologists, and speech pathologists; and

 

WHEREAS, deaf consumers of ASL interpreting services have raised concerns regarding ASL interpreters breaching the professional code of conduct and having no agency with which to file grievances; and

 

WHEREAS, for a locally credentialed ASL interpreter who may not follow a professional code of conduct, there is no grievance procedure for a deaf or hearing user of ASL interpreter services to file a complaint or have any recourse, other than not to use that particular ASL interpreter in the future; and

 

WHEREAS, consideration should be given regarding whether the adoption of additional standards of quality for ASL interpreters would help ensure a better level of service from providers, or whether increasing the promotion and visibility of DCAB's current Hawaii Quality Assurance System and listing of ASL interpreters and ASL interpreter referral agencies credentialed in the State is necessary to ensure users have a better understanding of credentials or levels of quality amongst service providers; and

 

WHEREAS, the State of Hawaii is the largest purchaser of ASL interpreter services in the State, and as a Title II entity under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is imperative that the State strive to ensure individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind are receiving high quality services from professionals who provide ASL interpreter services; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-ninth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2017, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Department of Health, Office of Language Access, and the Disability and Communication Access Board are requested to jointly convene a working group to examine the need for possible regulation and oversight of ASL interpreters and ASL interpreter referral agencies in Hawaii; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group include representatives or designees from the following:

 

(1) Department of Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Deaf Services Section;

 

(2) Department of Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Board;

 

(3) Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing Division;

 

(4) Hawaii State Judiciary, Office on Equality and Access to the Courts;

 

(5) Kapiolani Community College, Interpreter Education Program;

 

(6) Pacific Disabilities Center;

 

(7) Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind;

 

(8) Hawaii Interpreting Services;

 

(9) Isle Interpret;

 

(10) Hawaii Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.; and

 

(11) Aloha State Association of the Deaf; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to determine the optimal level of any regulation of ASL interpreters and ASL interpreter referral agencies in Hawaii from registration, to certification, to licensure and determine the impact any such regulation would have on the availability of ASL interpreter services, including the impact on fees charged for services, credentialing, professional development for ASL interpreters, sanctions, and penalties for improper conduct if a professional licensing program were to be established in Hawaii; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is also requested to consider the following factors when conducting its review of the need for regulation and oversight of ASL interpreters and ASL interpreter referral agencies in Hawaii:

 

(1) Review and define existing and potential concerns from deaf and hearing consumers of ASL interpreter services and ASL interpreter referral agency services, including a review of concerns presented to various agencies;

 

(2) Examine the characteristics of the current environment for ASL interpreters, paying agencies, and hearing consumers in Hawaii, including the current number of ASL interpreters, ASL interpreter referral agencies, and consumers; the level of training and credentialing and service code of professional conduct used by ASL interpreters currently working in Hawaii; and the estimated expansion of the demand for ASL interpreters in the State;

 

(3) Possible frameworks and requirements and fees for ASL interpreter regulation in Hawaii, including a review of registration (including credentialing and quality standards), certification, or licensure; and

 

(4) The positive and negative impacts of ASL interpreter regulation and standards and fees in other states, for the various levels of regulation examined; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to submit findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2018; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group cease to exist on June 30, 2018; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the Director of Health; Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Director of Human Services; Executive Director of the Office of Language Access; Executive Director of the Disability and Communication Access Board; Administrator of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; Chair of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Board; Coordinator of the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts; Coordinator of the Interpreter Education Program, Kapiolani Community College; Director of the Pacific Disabilities Center; Principal of the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind; Owner of Hawaii Interpreting Services; President of Isle Interpret; President of the Hawaii Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.; and President of the Aloha State Association of the Deaf.

Report Title:

Department of Health; Office of Language Access; Disability and Communication Access Board; Working Group; American Sign Language; Interpreters; Interpreter Agencies