According to Georgia Law 24-9-101(6) "Qualified Interpreter" means any person certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf or approved as an interpreter by the Georgia Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
The Georgia Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf [GaRID] uses the following statement to define a sign language interpreter:
"An interpreter facilitates communication between a deaf person and another individual. A signer has the basic signing skills to express his/her own thoughts, whereas an interpreter can convey the words and ideas of a speaker as well as voicing the deaf person's signs..."
"An interpreter has developed sufficient sign language skills to pass a national evaluation."
In other words, a signer is someone who may have had one, several, or no sign language classes. He/she is not yet fluent enough with sign language and its various forms to be an interpreter. Learning sign language can certainly be compared to learning a foreign language. Just as a person may have learned a foreign language well enough to be able to express his/her own thoughts but not be able to translate the words and thoughts of others into or from the foreign language so, too, can a signer express but not necessarily interpret. Hence, having taken one or even several sign language classes does not mean that a person is an interpreter. It is very possible a person could be a fluent signer and yet be unable to interpret.
Signing and interpreting are two distinct skills.
Where Do Interpreters Come From?
People become interested in sign language for a variety of reasons. One of them might be to become a sign language interpreter. The challenge is: It takes several years for a beginning sign language student to become a qualified interpreter. Some children of deaf parents are bilingual and go on to use their sign language skills in the interpreting profession. Other interpreters are simply people who were so fascinated with sign language that they studied, worked diligently at learning American Sign Language [ASL -the language of deaf adults], its variations, Deaf culture, and progressed with their skills to pass a comprehensive evaluation.
The only organization in the nation that can certify a sign language interpreter is the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID).
Individual states cannot certify a sign language interpreter. To be certified by RID, one must pass a written test and a performance test. One may be certified to interpret and to transliterate. The interpreter must be able to demonstrate skill in American Sign Language as well as skills in a manual/signed representative of English. All interpreters are certified to do both, depending on the needs of the client/ consumer.
RID recognizes specialist certifications:
Mental Health: QMHI
Performing Arts: SC:PA
For more information about interpreters and the interpreting process, go to www.rid.org.