Explaining changes to MCDHH’s interpreter
regulations. July 7, 2014. Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Hello. My name is Josh Mendelsohn. I’m a Deaf attorney, legal counsel, working for the Massachusetts
Rehabilitation Commission; MRC. I also work on a regular basis with the Massachusetts
Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; MCDHH.
In the past, State Legislature passed several laws that tells MCDHH what it can and what
it cannot do. In turn, the Commission created several regulations to help guide its own
programs. One of these regulations has to do with MCDHH’s
freelance interpreter contract. What is MCDHH’s freelance interpreter contract,
you may well ask? Well, it is an agreement between the State Government, the Commission,
on one side; and interpreters and transliterators on the other. These interpreters and transliterators
agree to provide communication access services to any state agency, or other agency, or organization,
participating in this contract. MCDHH and these other agencies agree to pay
a specific rate for communication access services by these interpreters and translators.
That brings us back to the regulations which cover the contract. You can find this regulation
by going to www.google.com and in searching for this: “112 CMR3.” That is the legal site.
It is the chapter and section where the MCDHH interpreter regulation is found. The first
link on the page is for the Massachusetts Law Library. And this opens up the regulation.
This regulation authorizes the Mass. Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to set up
a contract with these interpreters and transliterators. The regulation also authorizes MCDHH to serve
as a center for interpreter referrals. When state agencies for Massachusetts need interpreters,
they send a request to MCDHH, and MCDHH, in turn, assesses the requests, and matches interpreters
and transliterators to these requests based on a variety of factors. It may be location.
It may be language preference; ASL, PSE, or it may be what kind of topics that are being
discussed, as well as other factors. MCDHH then makes these interpreters sure that they
are going to be showing up to the meetings or appointments and takes care of last minute
emergencies. The last time this regulation was modified
was some time ago. Since then, things have changed. For example, MCDHH no longer runs
the Emergency Interpreting Service, but the language is still there in the regulation.
We took that language out of the regulation. The contract type also changed to make it
easier and more efficient for state agencies to work with a variety of interpreters and
transliterators. We had to change this contract type in the regulation, as well.
Some language in the regulation had to be changed to fit today’s terminology. For example,
we changed the definition of “legal interpreter” to fit the definition that is used by the
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; RID. We added language about realtime communication
access, CART, which is Communication Access RealTime Translation. This regulation had
several charts of rates for interpreter services. We had to follow these rates when paying interpreters
for their services. After several years, some of the rates needed to be adjusted because
interpreters charge more, or it has become more expensive to live here in the State of
Massachusetts. So we must change the rates every several years. We realized it was burdensome
and time consuming to change this regulation every time we wanted to increase or update
these rates every few years. We wanted to take out the rates and put them into the contract,
that way it would be much easier to modify the contract and the rates every several years.
We will still make sure that we solicit and get feedback from organizations of/or working
with Deaf people throughout the State of Massachusetts. In the previous regulation, several organizations
were named which are no longer here, or have since changed their name. We changed the regulation
to reflect these name changes. We also said we would solicit and get feedback from a variety
of organizations of/or working with Deaf people throughout the state.
At this time, I’m going to discuss each paragraph of the regulation. If you do not want to get
all of this information, please feel free to stop viewing at this time. But if you are
an interpreter, and you still have some questions, please contact the director of interpreter
services at MCDHH, Dianne Shearer. Dianne’s email is [email protected]
The first paragraph of the MCDHH Interpreter Regulation is Paragraph 3.01. It is entitled
“Statement of Purpose.” This paragraph tells us what the purpose of the regulation is and
why we have the regulation. It states that this regulation is to set up a centralized
structure and procedure for requesting Interpreter Services by state agencies for Deaf and Hard
of Hearing and Deaf-Blind individuals. We changed a few words for a better flow and
to fit today’s terms. For example, we changed “services of interpreter” to “interpreter
services.” The next paragraph is Paragraph 3.02. It is
called “Application and Scope.”
This paragraph tells us who or which state program this interpreter regulation effects
and how often. The paragraph explains that this regulation applies to all state agencies
as defined in the next paragraph. We did that because we realized that we were repeating
the list of state agencies twice. So we wanted to make this flow better without so many words.
Then in the same paragraph it states that this interpreter regulation sets up the MCDHH
Interpreter, CART Referral Service as a central point for Massachusetts state agencies for
interpreter services. And it sets up procedures for MCDHH to establish and maintain a statewide
contract. Here we mention the new contract type for Interpreter Services. And remove
old language about the Emergency Interpreter Services which is no longer operated by MCDHH.
The third paragraph is 3.03 which lists and defines terms throughout this regulation.
“Commissioner” means Commissioner of MCDHH. Her name is Heidi Reed.
The term “contractor” means a “sign language interpreter” or “other provider of communication
access.” It also says here that a sign language interpreter or contractor cannot have employees
or subcontractors working for them. This way MCDHH can maintain Quality Control by making
sure that specific interpreters are a good match for each assignment.
The next phrase is “interpreter for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.” This defines what actually
makes a person an interpreter. They must have the appropriate knowledge, training, certification,
and be approved by MCDHH, and can provide either sign or oral interpretation.
“MCDHH approved legal interpreter.” This took out our old definition, and explained that
legal interpreters must have certification and legal specialist certification from the
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; RID. And “MCDHH contract for interpreters for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing.” This paragraph now uses the correct name of the new contract
between state agencies and providers of communication access for persons who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind,
LateDeafened, or Hard of Hearing. And as I explained earlier, this new contract makes
it easier and more efficient for state agencies to work with as many interpreters and transliterators
as possible. The rate is how much MCDHH would pay interpreters
for their services. And the term “service” is defined as sign,
oral, or transliteration interpretation. This is provided by interpreters or other types
of communication access. The last definition is “state agency.” This
lists the different state agencies that this regulation applies to. The regulation applies
to the Executive Department, which is the group of different state agencies, but does
not include the State House, the courts, public colleges, and several independent state agencies.
They are not included, but are encouraged to use this interpreter contract regardless.
Paragraph 3.04 is entitled “Centralized Point for Interpreter Referrals.” This paragraph
explains that MCDHH operates a centralized Interpreter Referral Service for state agencies.
This paragraph was changed by adding terms showing that this Referral Service also covers
other providers of communication access; such as CART Services and transliterators. The
paragraph was also changed with language which flows better.
The next paragraph, Paragraph 3.05 talks about MCDHH’s interpreter contract. As I explained,
the contract type was changed to make it more efficient for state agencies to work with
as many interpreters and transliterators as possible. This paragraph also explains that
the interpreter contract, itself, can have more terms and conditions.
Under the same Paragraph 3.05, this section also explains that the Commission, MCDHH,
can establish standards and qualifications for the interpreters who participate in the
contract. You can find this contract online if you go to www.google.com. That is www.google.com.
And then search for “MCDHH Interpreter Contract.” The first result is the contract itself. And
that is found on mass.gov. Now back to the interpreter regulations. The
last paragraph of the interpreter regulation; Paragraph 3.06 is about rates. This used to
be the longest paragraph, and it used to be several pages listing different rates for
various years of experience. It also listed rates for legal interpretation. Individuals
who worked with Deaf-Blind interpreters. Interpreters with various certifications. And also for
the afterhours Emergency Services which was removed. MCDHH removed all of these numbers
and rates and moved them to the body of the interpreter contract. This way we can more
easily modify these numbers every once in a while with your feedback. Previously we
had to go through a more difficult and more expensive process of changing this regulation
each time we wanted to modify these rates. Now, and in the future, it will be much easier
to modify. The last paragraph also says “MCDHH will review
these rates periodically and adjust them after getting comments and feedback from organizations
of/or organizations working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind and LateDeafened
individuals in and across the Commonwealth.” We have also included a few examples of these
organizations. MassRID, Mass. Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf; MSAD, Mass. State
Association of the Deaf; and the Massachusetts State Chapters of the Association of LateDeafened
Adults, ALDA; the Alexander Graham Bell Association of the Deaf, AGB Association; and the Hearing
Loss Association of America, HLAA. This paragraph also says that if they, the organizations,
change their name, we would still work with these new organizations.
And that brings us to the end of this vlog. Thank you so much for your patience. And as
I said before, if you are an interpreter, or you have more questions, please feel free
to contact Dianne Shearer, Director of Interpreter Services at MCDHH. Her email, again, is [email protected]
Thank you so much and have a good day.