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nterpreter Fees:  Reasonable Accommodations?

By Lynda Park
(Your Interpreting Maven)

comstock7583@  wrote:
Hello there my name is Heather Comstock, and I work with a deaf student in Washington and she has been invited to go on a trip to Australia this summer but the plm is that the co will not pay for the interpreters trip, and she was told by the student that u interp for that ur trip is paid by the co and we are trying to figure out how that happend since they refuse to pay they keep saying it is the students resposnibility to pay for the interp's trip but I think it is ADA law that they are to provide an interp.  So if u could help us out asap that would be great, with any information. 
Thanks Heather Comstock

Hi Heather,
Your situation is familiar to me.  I have been working together with another interpreter, providing interpreting services for a Deaf young woman in our area with a similar experience.  The organization hosting the upcoming trip has paid for our services several times over the last few months during their orientation and interviews with the Deaf student, but we have not been retained for providing services during the actual trip yet.  We were initially told by the organizers that we could go along and interpret at half the cost charged to the students.  The look on my face and brief explanation that we were providing services for which we normally receive an income (not pay out) was met with confusion on the part of the organization. It was not the right time nor place to pursue it at that initial meeting (the young woman's family was there to look into the logistics of the trip, not to watch the interpreters hash out interpreting issues with the organization), but I forsee it will soon become a topic of discussion as the trip draws near.
The ADA is clearly the best support for both our situations.  I would have to look in-depth to find the exact wording, but basically:  The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) permits persons with disabilities (Deaf and hard of hearing) the legal right to be provided with reasonable accommodations without extra charge levied.  The reasonable accommodations in this case would be sign language interpreting--thus providing equal access for the Deaf consumer.  The organization is very large, by no means a small business, so it does not fall under the small business exemption.
The organization may suggest that since the trip is happening in Australia the law is null and void outside of the USA.  However, the organization sponsoring the trip is headquartered in America, the students and staff are American, and the familiar mode of communication used by the Deaf consumer (which they've already accepted into their program) is American Sign Language. 
I'm CC'ing this to the other interpreter in my area who has been working with me on this.  Maybe together we can all work out something to best benefit both young women, providing them with a fair and equal opportunity-- and a great Australian experience.
Please contact me with any thoughts you have.
~Lynda Park


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