Letter to the Commissioners of Manatee County, Florida


September 19, 2017
Manatee Board of County Commissioners
P.O. Box 1000
Bradenton, Florida 34206-1000


Letter of Censure

To the Honorable Commissioners:


It has been brought to the attention of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) Board of Directors that on September 8, 2017 at the noon and 3:30 pm press briefings that Manatee County chose to use someone who barely knew sign language in place of a qualified sign language interpreter. Thereafter, on September 9, 2017 at the 9:30 am and 3:30 pm briefings, as well as on September 10, 2017 at the 9:30 am briefing, no interpreters were provided at all. Provision of anyone other than a qualified interpreter for emergency broadcasts is unacceptable. Similarly, failure to provide any sign language interpreter in a situation where emergency information impacting safety, risk and potential death is being broadcast, is also not acceptable. Manatee County’s disregard for the provision of a qualified sign language interpreter, as required and defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act[1], endangered the lives of residents who depended on receiving this type of emergency information in American Sign Language (ASL).

The aforementioned unfortunate situation provides an opportunity for increased awareness within Manatee County Government. RID and our local affiliate chapter, Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (FRID), stand ready to assist Manatee County by offering you information that will enable you to locate qualified interpreters in your area and/or to consult with a reputable interpreter referral agency about the hiring of a qualified ASL interpreter. The Commissioners, along with county government employees, may wish to visit our website, www.RID.org, in order to access our search tools function at the top of our home page in order to locate an agency, and/or verify the certification(s) of qualified ASL interpreters.

Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by Hurricane Irma. Let us know how we can assist further so that a similar situation does not occur again. Thank you for your attention to this information.

Best regards,
Melvin Walker, M.Ed.
President, RID Board of Directors

1 Qualified interpreter means an interpreter who, via a video remote interpreting (VRI) service or an on-site appearance, is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. Qualified interpreters include, for example, sign language interpreters, oral transliterators, and cued-language transliterators. US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section: Paper on Effective Communication. www.ADA.gov/effective-com.htm. Accessed September 12, 2017.