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Bill would penalize American Sign Language interpreters practicing without proper certification

Published: Friday, March 1 2013 6:50 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A law created in 1994 has left many of Utah's deaf residents unprotected for years, but a new proposal aims to give them the help they need in obtaining qualified interpreters.

HB371 amends previous rules to penalize individuals who don't obtain state certification as American Sign Language-trained interpreters. Many have performed the duty without the correct certification, essentially bilking deaf individuals, said Dale Boehm, a Utah Valley University professor of deaf studies, attorney and experienced ASL interpreter.

Boehm said making the law enforceable will help to ensure quality for Utah's deaf population.

Bill sponsor Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, said that with a granddaughter who has recently become deaf, she is "realizing how absolutely important appropriate signing is."

The bill received unanimous support from the House Health and Human Services Committee on Friday and was placed on the consent calendar for the full body of the House. Menlove said the bill only clarifies existing law and is not contentious.

Wendy Leonard

Twitter: wendyleonards

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