The comment left by "Mike" last night on the recent blog post, "Proof of Damage by Inadequate Interpreters" was thought-provoking and I have reprinted his comment here:
Based on RID info as well as the interpreting school I attended, I see required standards for interpreters increasing every year. For example, New Jersey requires a special certification to interpret in a school. This school certification is in addition to a normal interpreting certification. The danger with this system is that the shortage of qualified interpreters might increase. I know several people that were discouraged from completing their interpreting programs because of high standards, thus disallowing them to gain experience which in the long term would've made them more qualified. These individuals more or less gave up signing and work in other fields now. The interpreting and signing profession needs to advertise better for itself to attract more people into the field so that quantity quotas will still be met despite high standards and rigorous training requirements. I was completely unaware of deaf interpreting until college. Targeting students in grammar school and high school should solve this quality vs. quantity issue.
If what "Mike" says is true, then it becomes a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. If you don't increase the standards for educational interpreters, you risk the deaf and hard of hearing children being subjected to inadequate interpreters. If you do increase the standards, then fewer people might become interpreters. This creates a situation where a deaf or hard of hearing child can have a good quality educational interpreter -- IF an interpreter can be found.
Do any About.com readers have any ideas on how to cope with this dilemma? Ironically, about the same time that my blog post was posted, the Der Sankt Speaks blog had a post, "Are VRS Stealing Our Interpreters?" which posed the question of whether interpreters should be required to do certain types of interpreting in order to maintain their certification. He has a point. Is this the direction in which we are heading in order to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing children have an adequate supply of qualified interpreters for their education?