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American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter with a Criminal Background 

In a message dated 7/12/2013 9:54:07 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Good Morning,
I have a couple questions about interpreting as a career. I figured it would probably be easiest to just e-mail you.
Something important that I wanted to talk to you about was my background and record. Please don't judge me. I made a few mistakes that were not okay in my past and I have gotten in trouble for them and paid my dues. I got caught stealing before. I definitely have learned from this experience and I would never do anything like that again. I am truly paying for my actions.

I just wanted to know your personal opinion on whether or not you think I can still make it as an interpreter? I know I had a hard time finding a job that even pays more than minimum wage because of background checks etc. I have heard people say that after a certain amount of years it wouldn't show up. I am not sure.

I guess my question would be is do you think it would be impossible for me? Would it be extremely hard for me to find work in this business? Just curious what you think. I hope people can see that I have changed and they were just mistakes that created a leaning experience.

Sorry this was sooo long! You can just get back to me when you have time. I just wanted to ask you because your a professional in the area of ASL.

Thank you so much!!
- (Name on File)

Dear _______,
It seems to me that you could indeed become an interpreter.
While you likely would not end up with a job in the public school system you could certainly earn a decent wage freelancing or perhaps even hooking up with an interpreter agency.

You state that you "hope people can see" that you have changed.  Eh? Why even mention it in the first place?  As you say, you have paid your dues. So close that door and move on. No need to bring it up. Sure, if someone asks you directly (or on an employment form) if you have ever been convicted -- you should answer honestly.  But there is no logical reason to run around volunteering the information. Instead just learn a valuable skill (interpreting or otherwise) and go out and exchange that skill for income to support yourself in your life endeavors.

I've never asked any of my interpreters "Have you done jail time?" 

[Editor / author's note: Apparently the above quote has been taken out of context and or skewed by someone writing an article who wrongly assumed I am the owner of an interpreter agency.  I am not and never have been the owner of an interpreter agency.  However, I have "trained" interpreters.  As a Deaf/hh individual I often use interpreters -- particularly for work-related meetings. Also, even though I personally have never asked any of the people who interpret for me (as a consumer) if they have done jail time -- allow me to be perfectly clear:  I believe that anyone working in the public or private K - 12 school systems should be able to pass a standard criminal background check.]

I've never even thought of asking anything like that.  They show up, doing the interpreting, and go away. End of story. The way I see it, your past experiences might actually make you even better qualified for certain types of interpreting -- particularly interpreting in circumstances involving legal terminology.

Dr. Vicars
William G. Vicars, EdD

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