Unfortunately, many K-12 interpreters are opposing the proposed rules and regulations because they will be required to obtain a 4.0 (Advanced Intermediate) on the EIPA test, which I fully support. We need interpreters who sign and voice well, and I’m very disappointed with these interpreters who oppose the EIPA standard. The EIPA standard of 4.0 should stay! The Michigan Deaf Community should inform DODHH and the interpreters that the EIPA 4.0 needs to remain.
With that in mind, I have copied and pasted my public comment that I submitted to DODHH on March 8, 2013, listing my concerns with these proposed rules and regulations. There is far more to this than just the EIPA matter, and these issues deserve just as much attention as the EIPA. And these concerns are shared by many, hence the fierce backlash from many interpreters, unfortunately. (Here’s my DODHH Public Comment_redacted in PDF format, if you don’t want to read the copy and paste below).
Dear Director Emery:
My name is Jeannette K. Johnson and I am a Deaf Michigan citizen who’s proficient in American Sign Language. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from Grand Valley State University and this document is my public comment on the PA 204 2007 amendments’ proposed rules and regulations, pursuant to the PA 206 Michigan Administrative Procedures Act. As a consumer of interpreters for the deaf, while I overall support the PA 204 amendments, I have numerous concerns with the rules and regulations. They are the following:
Under the definitions section (R 393.5003 Definitions) it states the following:
- (x) “Quality assurance certification” or “QA” means an interpreter certificate granted under the division’s quality assurance certification interpreter testing system, which will phase out.
- (s) “Michigan BEI” or “MI-BEI” means the Michigan board for evaluation of interpreters test which this state leases from the state of Texas to evaluate interpreters in this state.
The definition of the Quality assurance certification, especially the portion about being phased out, seems to conflict with the PA 204 law, since it does not give any provisions for the QA certification to be phased out or even be replaced. A direct quote from the PA 204 regarding this matter:
393.508d Possession of Michigan quality assurance certification; expiration; renewal.
Sec. 8d. Any person possessing a Michigan quality assurance certification at the level of I, II, or III, on the effective date of the amendatory act that added this section, shall be considered a qualified interpreter for purposes of this act until that certification status expires.
Thus, resolution is needed. Furthermore, it should be noted that the Division has already phased out the QA prior to the promulgation of these rules, without any input from the public and stakeholders. A comprehensive investigation should be held and corrective action should be taken against these individuals whom (whether they’re still employed by the State or not) are responsible for this egregious conduct, and the QA reinstated with input from stakeholders.
The definition of the MI-BEI makes it explicit that it is leased from the State of Texas. However, in the PA 204 law, it does not make provisions for the State to use or recognize another State’s interpreting certification as its own. The PA 204 law appears to give the Division authority to recognize Michigan and national certifications only – not other states. Therefore, all mentions of the MI-BEI should be stricken, and all mentions of the QA being phased out should be stricken as well.
Under the R 393.5021, it states the following:
- (b) A certification from another state which has a reciprocal agreement with this state.
Again, the PA 204 law does not appear to give the Division authority to have a reciprocal agreement with another state. Furthermore, in my opinion, this is akin to Michigan having a reciprocal agreement with Texas for attorneys’ bar exams and licensure, which does not happen for a good reason. Each state is different, thus their certification and its procedures must reflect such reality. Therefore, I believe the Division is evading its duty in this matter, and R 393.5021 (b) should be stricken.
Under the R 393.5032, it discusses the matter of reciprocity and states the following:
An applicant for certification by reciprocity shall do all of the following: …
(c) Hold a current, valid license or certificate in good standing to practice interpreting in a state with which this state has a reciprocal agreement.
(d) Have no report of disciplinary action pending in another state, …
The same issue arises as in Issue Three. The PA 204 law does not appear to give the Division authority to recognize other states’ certifications – only its own and national certifications. Thus the R 393.5032 in its entirety needs significant editing, (c) needs to be stricken and (d) needs to be edited.
Under R 393.5022, it states the following:
- (c) Endorsements are required to interpret for a proceeding involving a deaf-blind person, medical, and legal situations. Endorsement requirements shall be required 2 years from the effective date of these rules.
Endorsements are not defined in the Definitions section. Who provides the endorsements, and how will it be provided? This needs to be defined and clarified then R 393.5022 and R 393.5028 edited to accurately reflect the endorsements definition.
The matter of R 393.5054, covers the matter of the interpreter practicum experience.
I do not believe that the student interpreter practicum should be regulated by the Division. Rather, I believe that student practicums should be regulated and monitored by the Michigan Department of Education. Thus, R 393.5054 should be stricken. If not stricken, then have the supervising interpreter hold either a state or national certification, and a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree along with a year of professional interpreting experience.
Under the R 393.5026, it states the following:
- (3) Interpreters meeting the certification requirements of subrule (1) of this rule may interpret for a proceeding for children and youth only in the following settings, if effective communication is achieved: ….
I believe this exceeds the Division’s authority and should be instead regulated and monitored by the Michigan Department of Education. Thus, R 393.5026 (3) and its subsections should be stricken.
Under the R 393.5058, it states the following:
- (4) A written waiver shall be initiated only by a D/DB/HH person and retained by the appointing authority with a copy sent to the division. ….
- (5) All waivers must be completed on a division created waiver form.
This rule makes it clear that only a Deaf, Deaf-Blind or a Hard of Hearing person can fill out the waiver (which I’m fine with). However, is there a reason for the (5) regulation? Why cannot a D/DB/HH adult create their own waiver? These rules and regulations should only regulate interpreters, not us D/DB/HH. I believe this exceeds the Division’s authority, thus R 393.5058 (5) should be stricken.
I believe that the R 393.5094 conflicts with the PA 204 law, since the PA 204 law already outlines fees and does not give provisions for the Division to impose additional fees. Therefore, I believe that R 393.5094 should be entirely stricken.
Under the R 393.5052, it states the following:
- (1) … NAD-RID “Code of Professional Conduct,” effective July 1, 2005 is adopted by reference. …
I recommend changing that line to: “Interpreters shall follow the most recent official version of the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct.”
The R 393.5023, R 393.5024 and R 393.5025 discuss the minimum for each level. I have many, many concerns with these rules. I do not see how it is possible for anyone, deaf or hearing, to remember these extraordinarily nuanced restrictions for each level. This reeks of micromanagement. Furthermore, interpreters must be allowed to exercise their own independent judgment, so there should be a provision somewhere in this section regarding that. (It also should be noted that even in Texas these restrictions are only recommended, not codified). Instead, I would have the following in the respective section of the rules and regulations (phased in within 6 years of these rules and regulations taking effect):
- A Level I interpreter must hold a minimum of an Associate’s degree from an accredited institution and interpret at the most, in non-complex, low risk environments. They may interpret in moderate and high risk environments only if partnering with a Level II, III or national certified interpreter, respectively.
- A Level II interpreter must hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and interpret, at the most, in moderately complex environments such as government; employment; or finance. They may interpret in a high risk environment if partnering with a Level III or national certified interpreter or if they have obtained legal/medical interpreting endorsements from the State or NAD-RID.
- A Level III interpreter must hold a minimum of a Master’s degree from an accredited institution, may interpret in all environments, including high risk environments such as medical or legal situations.
- Nationally certified interpreters, with prudent judgment and compliance with the most recent, official version of the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct, may interpret in any environment.
I would also add definitions of low, moderate and high risk environments in the Definitions section (R 393.5003).
I question whether R 393.5026 (3) and its subsections fall under the authority and scope of the Division. I believe that rather, these detailed regulations on what educational interpreters may and may not interpret, falls under the domain of the Michigan Department of Education.
In the Part 4. Procedures for Testing section, I strongly feel that there should be a regulation stating that the Division shall establish a permanent QA committee that will be composed of, at the minimum, interpreter trainers and Deaf individuals who are fluent in both ASL and English, to monitor and review the QA certification process. This will ensure that the stakeholders are included in the process on an equitable basis. In the best case scenario, a NCCA* expert should be on the QA committee as well, or at the least, be a consultant with the DODHH and its QA committee.
*National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Jeannette K. Johnson
cc: Mary McLellan, Michigan Civil Rights Department
Michigan Representative MacGregor
Michigan Senator Jansen