Please Help Us Help Mi Asl Interpreters And Deaf Community

Ken Thomas

New Member
Good afternoon. My name is Ken Thomas. I am writing you today to ask for advice, help, and support on behalf of the Deaf and Sign Language Community in Michigan. New legislature has affected around 1.2 million in the state. Many Interpreters who have been doing so for decades can no longer do so, even being nationally certified, and the pool for services in the Deaf Community has been slashed.
One of the people affected is my mother. I dont mention her name right now because I am trying to keep her out of the spotlight through this difficult time, but this fundraiser is partly for her. She hasnt worked in months, is in danger of losing her home, and many of the people she employed can are in a similar position. She has had to close her church, and take a part time interpreting position in another state. We dont even know if or when she'll be able to work here (MI) again. But I dont want to only help her; as I said earlier there is a vast community that is affected. Much of my family is Deaf or Hard of Hearing. It is much harder for them to access the experienced interpreters they were once able to request. And litigation against states usually go for years, so right now there is no telling how long the situation will stay as it is.
I have started a fundraiser to fight this issue. Rather through petitions, court, or helping the interpreters get the new certification necessary (since they can't make a living interpreting anymore without paying money and taking more courses-somehow they are supposed to without working) and we are open to advice as well. If you cant contribute as an organization, we ask for your support as an individual, or amongst your circle. Lastly we ask that you could share this message with the Deaf Community and Sign Language community. The Deaf/ASL community is one of the most tight-knit in the world...and it will take a community to save a community.
I thank you for even reading this far. The fundraiser link is as follows:

gofundme.com/ASL-DeafComm5
images (1).jpg
Please, please share. I am open to any contribution, thoughts, and advice. Thank you your support, shares, time, and prayers. I apologize for being so long winded.
 

Muse

Active Member
Thank you for sharing this, Ken.

The link is unclickable above, so I'm reposting it here so people can click on it:

https://www.gofundme.com/ASL-DeafComm5

Also, in your link you mention you're still figuring out some stuff. I would be happy to leverage my background and help throw ideas to get your action plan foolproof. Please send me a PM on this forum.
 

Ken Thomas

New Member
Thank you. It would not allow me to put the entire link for some reason, thank you for your help. And I will take any help offered.... Although I'm new to this site and don't know how to PM.
 

Mieke

Belgian ASL noob
Hi Ken,

Could you share that legislation? I'd love to read it through, previous and current version.

Thanks
 

Ken Thomas

New Member
http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdcr/7202016ApprovedEndorsementList_529895_7.pdf

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdcr/StandardsChart-F-3-17-16_517263_7.docx

http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr/0,4613,7-138-28545_28547-389155--,00.html

The last one probably is the best informative on it. The issue is whenever they decided to go this route, they didn't include the Deaf Community or the seasoned and tenured ( some with almost 40 years exp) Interpreters; and unfortunately it isn't the first blow to the community. Some acts border on discrimination....I apologize for rambling. The wound is very fresh.
 

Ken Thomas

New Member
The way they went about it makes it seem like all they want to do is tap into the money going through the Deaf and Sign Language Communuty. Meanwhile people have lost their livelihoods, or have to try and pay for all these new certifications PAST their already nationally certified status, without the ability to make a living in their passion/profession. They didn't even consult the Deaf Community, which is a very loyal and tight knit one in MI as I imagine others are as well.
 

Muse

Active Member
Ken, to start a PM: click on my avatar to the left of this reply. There will be a pop-up box, click the link that says "Start a Conversation"

I empathize with you and understand the fresh wound. You can use me as a sounding board anytime. I will also try to introduce you to any key people who can help.
 

Mieke

Belgian ASL noob
Which part of the new legislation makes it harder then before to be an interpreter in MI, you could try lobbying for them to add an accreditation based on work experience.

Not sure if it would work in US, but in Belgium that often is included to get into specific jobs
 

Ken Thomas

New Member
They suddenly imposed new certifications, even if you are already nationally certified. Any clients you had in legal proceedings, educational, or medical situations, you had to immediately drop because you can no longer legally interpret for them. Its a sudden decision, that did not include the Deaf point of view, and the only fix is time and money. While losing your ability to interpret in Michigan. So unless you just have free money and time, or dont mind ( or are able to) just up and leave for another state, you are just done.
 

Ken Thomas

New Member
We are trying to come at it from many angles, what you suggested being one of them. But these types of things can take years. That's years without work , with no guarantee of success.

And I would think they would have from the beginning! 20, 30, 40 years of experience, they don't include at all. Think of how much quality interpreting is no longer available.
 

Ken Thomas

New Member
Many of our interpreters are CODAs! They have been living in it since birth!

Its like telling someone born in Germany, who moved to the US, and is fluent in both language that they can't interpret for their own people anymore without a few extra pieces of paper.
 

Mieke

Belgian ASL noob
Many of our interpreters are CODAs! They have been living in it since birth!

Its like telling someone born in Germany, who moved to the US, and is fluent in both language that they can't interpret for their own people anymore without a few extra pieces of paper.
It is like that over here, without the proper papers you cant.

But I really hope you will manage to find a way around it.
 

Ken Thomas

New Member
That's the thing. They just put that into effect. So now being nationally certified isn't enough. But only for that one state.

Thank you for the well wishes
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
They suddenly imposed new certifications, even if you are already nationally certified. Any clients you had in legal proceedings, educational, or medical situations, you had to immediately drop because you can no longer legally interpret for them. Its a sudden decision, that did not include the Deaf point of view, and the only fix is time and money. While losing your ability to interpret in Michigan. So unless you just have free money and time, or dont mind ( or are able to) just up and leave for another state, you are just done.
Are you saying that interpreters who were working in legal settings (courts, lawyer meetings, jail, etc.) were doing so without being certified for legal interpreting? I didn't know that was allowed in recent decades.
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
I know that this is a hard thing but didn't you see it coming? In many states the path towards state licensure for terps took many years to work thru the legislatures.
 

zephren

Well-Known Member
From what I read on the MI site, the state certification has been in place since 2011 (started preparing it in 2007). It seem the requirement that you must have the state cert is the change but as Reba mentioned it seem like people should have seen it coming. It seems logical that those that only had the other certs would have taken the MI tests since then to expand their credentials.
 

Tousi

Well-Known Member
Muse, I am curious why you want to take this to PM when its generally a concern for almost all who congregate here. What background are you using to offer assistance in PM that cannot be seen here? Thanks
 

Muse

Active Member
Muse, I am curious why you want to take this to PM when its generally a concern for almost all who congregate here. What background are you using to offer assistance in PM that cannot be seen here? Thanks
Tousi, I didn't want to distract from his original request and thought I was being polite by doing it. It was my aim to be courteous and not go off topic.

I am happy to carry this discussion here if everyone is OK.
 
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