New York judge notes shortage of ASL interpreters for the deaf in court

A judge in Queens County, NY, recently wrote a 13-page order awarding double the standard compensation for a sign language interpreter and spotlighting a severe shortage of court-certified interpreters in American Sign Language for the deaf. He noted that even in Rochester, NY, which has the largest per capita deaf population in the country, only a limited number of certified court interpreters are available. (The Rochester Institute of Technology / National Technical Institute for the Deaf, where I will help my daughter move into a dorm next weekend, is there.)

A federal court case in Rochester under the Americans with Disabilities Act a few years ago helped bring about a Deaf Equal Access Fund, in cooperation with the local bar association and an interpreting service, to enable the deaf community to have full access to services of the legal community. That is worth studying as a model for what might be done in Georgia, though I doubt any community in Georgia approaches the concentration of D/deaf population that you find in Rochester.

Because of my daughter (who lost her hearing at 18 due to NF2, got an Auditory Brainstem Implant at House Ear Institute, and spent this summer taking ASL at Gallaudet University), I have begun to learn ASL.  This fall I will be taking ASL classes with my wife two nights a week, subject of course to trial, deposition and work related travel schedules.  Though my ASL skills are still at the unskilled beginner level, and may never become fluent, my daughter has raised my consciousness about the challenges facing the D/deaf and hard of hearing. At least I know how to sign, "old dogs can’t learn new tricks."

The Shigley Law Firm  represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.