New Case: Deaf Patients Sue Interpreting Agency For Providing
Uncertified Sign Language Interpreters
By Sophie Breene | Jun 25, 2015
Published on Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) news on CREEC website, creeclaw.org
Three Deaf Coloradans and the husband of one of them filed a lawsuit today in the Arapahoe County District Court against A&A Languages of Centennial, Colorado alleging that A&A violated the Colorado Consumer Protection Act by assigning individuals to interpret for medical and other professional appointments when the individuals lacked required certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).
The Colorado Consumer Protection Act specifies that it is a “deceptive trade practice” to claim to be a “sign language interpreter” if the person is not RID certified.
The lawsuit claims that A&A’s use of uncertified interpreters resulted in significant frustration, confusion, and distress for Nicki and Kris Runge, Avi Haimowitz, and Ami Garry and her partner, all of whom, excepting Mr. Runge, are Deaf.
A&A sent uncertified and unqualified individuals to interpret for the plaintiffs in complex and sensitive situations, including a meeting with social services, an infertility counseling session, and a class required as part of the adoption process. Having to deal with unprofessional and incompetent interpreters multiplied the stress of these already emotional situations.
“It is unfortunately common for medical providers in particular to hire foreign language interpreting agencies who are not familiar with the communication needs of people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, and who send uncertified individuals claiming to be ‘sign language interpreters,’” explained Amy Robertson, Co-Executive Director of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center and counsel for the plaintiffs. “Indeed, A&A has a contract with Denver Health, Jefferson County Social Services, and Adams County. These entities are all at risk of violating Consumer Protection Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Certified interpreters not only possess the sophisticated language skills necessary to discuss complex matters, they also are required to adhere to certain standards of professionalism and confidentiality designed to ensure that consumers who are Deaf or hard of hearing receive effective communication in medical, social services, and business contexts.
“Charging businesses to provide ill-equipped communication services is unfortunate,” stated Jennifer Pfau, President of the Colorado Association of the Deaf. “Deaf consumers — who are best-situated to determine the quality of interpretation services — are often left out of an essentially financial decision to hire the cheapest agency, while legal protections are ignored. This needs to be addressed with the interpreting business to ensure quality services are provided for effective communication.”
The case, Runge v. A&A Languages, LLC, 2015-cv-31592, was filed in the Arapahoe County District Court on June 25, 2015.
The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center is investigating A&A Languages, a translation service that also provides ASL interpreters to doctors, hospitals and businesses.
If you are Deaf or hard of hearing and have had an experience with an interpreter provided by A&A, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.