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VDDHH Consumer Guide

How to Participate in the Extended Public Comment Period on the Proposed Interpreter Programs Regulations

Over the past few months, the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) has been working on changing the Interpreter Program Regulations. The regulations affect the way VDDHH includes qualified interpreters in the Directory of Qualified Interpreters. The Regulations also cover the way the agency operates the Virginia Quality Assurance Screening Program. The agency asked for public comment on the proposed changed in the Spring. When that public comment period closed, the agency looked at all the comments that we received and made a few more changes. The final regulations, including the changes we made based on public comment, were published at the end of July and scheduled to become effective on October 1, 2001.

During the final public comment period, the agency received more than 25 requests to reopen the public comment on the regulations. The people who requested this additional public comment period have concerns about some parts of the final regulations. Therefore, the agency has submitted the regulations for an additional public comment period from September 24th until October 24th. The agency will not implement the new regulations on October 1st. The old regulations will stay in place for now.

During the additional public comment period, we want to hear from consumers who use interpreter services, from professional interpreters and VQAS candidates. We have outlined the concerns that came up during the last public comment period and the agency's response to those concerns. Please read this information and let us know if you agree with what VDDHH has proposed doing or if you think we need to make more changes. You may comment on any part of the regulations but we would especially like to know your comments on the highlighted issues. Do you support the changes that VDDHH has proposed in these areas?

The public comment period is from September 24th until October 24th. Your comments are very important!

Your comments do not have to be written in any specific format. Whatever you want to say will be considered. Please include your name and address with your written comments.

To get a copy of the proposed Interpreter Programs Regulations:
Call VDDHH at 1-800-552-7917 (V/TTY) or (804)662-9503 (V/TTY) or visit the VDDHH web site at www.vddhh.org for a link to the Regulatory Town Hall site where you can read the proposed regulations.

Send your comments to:
Laurie Malheiros
Interpreter Programs Manager
The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
1602 Rolling Hills Drive Suite 203
Richmond, VA 23229-5012
Email: malheilb@ddhh.state.va.us
Phone: (804)662-9502 V/TTY


Summary of Issues Raised In Public Comment

You can use this form to provide your comments on each issue. Clicking on "submit" will email a copy to the Guild of Interpreters and we will forward ALL comments to VDDHH. You may also print a copy to fill in by hand, or fill it out online and print the page. If you want to comment on a part of the regulations that is not included in this form, you may use the additional comment box at the bottom of the page. You do not have to use this form at all. This form is provided as a courtesy by the Guild of Interpreters for the Deaf, using information provided to us by VDDHH.

Name:

Email:

Address:

Proposed Change: In VQAS, the Skills Assessment is separated into two different assessments, one for interpreting and one for transliterating. Candidates will be able to take one or both assessments. (Currently, they are required to take both.)

Issue Raised In Public Comment: Many commenters said that VQAS candidates should be required to take both the interpreting and the transliterating segments every time they take the assessment. The commenters feel that both skills are necessary and that people will not focus on improving their weakest skills.

VDDHH Response To Concern: VDDHH agrees that skills in transliterating and interpreting are both very important and that a professional should be assessed in both skill sets. However, we recognize that individuals develop these skills at different rates. It puts an unnessary burden on the system and on the candidates to require that individuals who have superior skills in one area and minimal skills in another area to take both assessments at the same time. It is the responsibility of each individual to do whatever is necessary to develop their skills as a professional and to take the appropriate assessment at the appropriate time to assist them in developing those skills.

Your Comments on this Issue:

Proposed Change: Inclusion of a clear statement of fees. The fee for the Code of Ethics Assessment is $20. The fee for each separate Skills Assessment is $60 (or $120 for both).

Issue Raised In Public Comment: Commenters noted that the total fee for both Skills Assessments will increase from $80 to $120 and they feel this is an unreasonable increase.

VDDHH Response To Concern: The Department has documented that the actual cost for administering, rating, and providing diagnostics on the Skills Assessments for a single candidate exceeds $500. The agency may, by law, collect any amount up to the full cost of the assessment. We recognize that charging the full cost would be a burden on candidates and have determined that $120 for the two assessments will allow the program to continue at current capacity.

Your Comments on this Issue:

Proposed Change: Replacement of VQAS Level I with a "Novice Interpreter Designation". This is in response to consumer concerns about the inclusion of interpreters with VQAS Level I in the Directory of Qualified Interpreters. Code language defines a qualified interpreter as one who has a current screening level awarded by VQAS.

Issue Raised In Public Comment: Commenters said that this change will negatively impact the professional reputation of individuals who currently hold a Level I. They are concerned that current Level I's will be stripped of their credentials. They also are concerned that this change violates the Code of Virginia.

VDDHH Response To Concern: The Code of Virginia establishes a VQAS Screening Level as the standard for qualified interpreters used by state agencies and listed in the Directory of Qualified Interpreters. The agency has the authority to determine what a VQAS level is by establishing regulations. VDDHH believes that the Novice Interpreter designation will provide more information about the skill level of these interpreters to consumers, state agencies and other private entities that use interpreter services. All current Level I's will keep their levels until the original expiration date (3 years from the date the level was awarded.) The agency will provide a separate section in the Directory of Qualified Interpreters to list those interpreters who have achieved the Novice Interpreter designation.

Your Comments on this Issue:

Proposed Change: Addition of provisions for a consumer input and grievance procedure. This is necessary to ensure that consumers who depend upon the services of VQAS interpreters have a formal mechanism for addressing complaints (based on violations of the Code of Ethics) against those interpreters. It allows the agency to remove VQAS credentials from interpreters upon a finding of cause.

Issue Raised In Public Comment: Commenters said that the grievance procedure violates the Code of Virginia 8.01-44.3 and that the grievance procedure is not necessary because that section of the Code puts the responsibility on the courts to resolve issues between consumers and interpreters.

VDDHH Response To Concern: The Grievance Procedure does not violate the Code of Virginia. 8.01-44.3 of the Code does allow for a fine of up to $100 or actual damages to be paid by any interpreter or Virginia Relay Communications Assistant who reveals information that they learned while performing their duties. The proposed grievance procedure would allow for any tenet of the RID Code of Ethics, including confidentiality. Consumers who use the services of nationally certified interpreters have the option of filing complaints about those interpreters with the certifying organization (RID or NAD). Those who use VQAS Screened Interpreters need the same opportunity to complain. To ensure that the complaint process is fair and equitable for the consumer and not abused, strict rules for the process are needed. This Grievance Procedure establishes those rules and protects both the consumer and the interpreter. It is common practice for state agencies to establish internal, administrative procedures (even with statute provides other remedies) to resolve conflicts that come up in agency programs rather than tying up the courts with costly litigation on matters that could be settled outside of the courtroom.

Your Comments on this Issue:

Proposed Change: No Change Proposed

Issue Raised In Public Comment: Commenters were concerned that having only two raters would result in a biased process.

VDDHH Response To Concern: The minimum standard of two raters (at least one hearing and one deaf) has been in the regulations since they were first established. This is only a minimum. In policy and practice, the agency uses at least three and as many as six different raters for each candidates assessment.

Your Comments on this Issue:

Proposed Change: No Change Proposed.

Issue Raised In Public Comment: Several commenters said they thought the current scoring process was not fair because it uses the lowest segment score to determine the level that is awarded. These commenters suggest that the scores from all three segments should be averaged and that average score should determine the level.

VDDHH Response To Concern: If scores were averaged to determine a level, a candidate who gets a very high score in one segment and very low scores in the other two segments would be awarded a higher level. For example, a candidate could receive a score of 87% on the Expressive Interpreting Segment (meaning that candidate showed excellent sign production and accuracy) but receive a score of 52% on the Receptive segment (meaning that candidate had difficulty reading and accurately translating the signs of the deaf person in the assessment) and a score of 63% in the Interactive segment (which includes both receptive and expressive skills). Under the current system, that candidate would receive a Level 1 because the lowest score was 52%. This Level I (or Novice designation in the new regulations) would tell people that this is an interpreter who is developing skills but who has some significant areas of weakness. If the same scores were averaged, the candidate would be awarded a Level II because the average score would be 67.3%. The agency strongly believes that consumers who rely on the services of interpreters for critical communication need to have an accurate sense of the skills that a person has. To say that someone who has only demonstrated 52% accuracy in expressive interpreting is a Level II would be very misleacding and could result in harm to the consumer who depends on that interpreter's skills in those critical situations.

Your Comments on this Issue:

Additional Comments: These comments may cover any additional concerns you would like to address to VDDHH.

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