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Sign Language Interpreter Rules Criticized In Michigan

VIDEO: Reform for sign language interpreter rules criticized in Michigan.

LANSING, MI. - In April 2005, a Deaf Roseville woman confessed to police to killing her boyfriend without knowing she had a legal right to have a lawyer present and remain silent through an interpreter.

The Michigan Supreme Court later tossed out the confession, concluding Mary Ann McBride's unqualified interpreter failed to communicate through sign language McBride's Miranda rights.

McBride was later convicted in the stabbing death of Robert Adelsburg, but the case and other incidents of sign language miscommunication in legal and medical settings prompted a 2007 law requiring more stringent education and testing requirements for interpreters.

"Unfortunately, situations like that continue to happen," said Sheryl Emery, director of the state Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Six years later, the new rules are beginning to go into effect, but not everybody is happy with the reforms as Michigan imposes some of the toughest testing requirements for Deaf interpreters in the country intended to prevent interpreter mistakes. Some longtime professional interpreters and graduates of college-level sign language programs say the new state licensing test is difficult and too focused on English language concepts not used in everyday interpreting with Deaf people in community, educational, medical and legal settings.

Robina Anderson, an interpreter from Trenton and the daughter of two Deaf parents, has used sign language for 55 years, but has twice failed a new state exam that places a heavy emphasis on antonyms, synonyms and reading comprehension. Her state certification will become invalid this year under new licensing requirement set to go into effect in June. ...Read more: - SOURCE
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