New Sign Language Bill, Inspired by Interpreter’s Mistake


Florida sign Language bill 2018

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A new bill has passed in Florida requiring officials to use certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for all televised emergency briefings. The bill requires these ASL interpreters to be certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) or the Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (FRID).

This new law was after an interpreter signed gibberish during a televised Hurricane Irma warning in Manatee County, leaving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community confused and unable to effectively respond to the crisis. The “interpreter” reportedly warned the populace about pizza and bears but ignored vital information about evacuations and safety.  Florida Representative Richard Stark stated the incident was “‘anything but funny’ for hearing-impaired residents who depend on that information to stay safe in times of crisis.”

This is not the first situation where televised interpretations were botched. In 2013, the Deaf community was (rightfully) outraged when a “fake” interpreter made up signs during President Obama’s eulogy at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. Incidents such as these disenfranchise the Deaf community by robbing them of their right to know what is going on in their communities and especially during urgent situations.

Florida’s new law to ensure quality interpretation is a step in the right direction, but is it enough? Currently, the bill will only require this certification in situations involving emergency briefings for the public. However, best practices in the language services community indicate that using certified interpreters in the medical, legal, and various other fields result in the most accurate and helpful interpretations. Providing accessible communication to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in all situations is necessary and possible with the right steps.

About RID Certification

RID Certification is often required of ASL interpreters in certain circumstances, such as emergency situations, and within the medical and legal fields. Certification requires certain standards of conduct which ensure professional and ethical practices. According to the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, a certified deaf interpreter undergoes “specialized training involving experience in the use of gesture, mime, props, drawings, and other tools to enhance communication.” This training allows for highly accurate interpretations in situations where important information is being relayed.

Why a Qualified Interpreter is Necessary

A qualified interpreter is one who is accustomed with the Deaf community’s culture, customs, and interests. They also meet all the ADA requirements, including necessary specialized vocabulary and the ability to interpret effectively. Regardless of RID Certification, an interpreter should be qualified to meet the needs of the Deaf community.

How Do I Find a Qualified ASL Interpreter?

Finding a qualified sign language interpreter is not as hard as it may seem. Interpreters Unlimited recruits certified and highly qualified ASL interpreters to meet your interpreting needs. Accessible Communication for the Deaf (ACD), the Sign Language Services Division of IU Group, offers professional ASL interpretation services for a variety of businesses nationwide. Whether you need on-site or video remote interpretation services, you can be ensured our interpreters will be able to meet your needs.

Contact Us

Making Connections Nationwide. Interpreters Unlimited is a national language services provider in the United States. For more information, please call (800) 726-9891.

About Accessible Communication for the Deaf

Accessible Communication for the DeafAccessible Communication for the Deaf is an IU Group Company, located in Miami, Florida. ACD proudly serves the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities of Florida and the southeast United States. In addition, ACD is IU’s dedicated Sign Language Services Division, providing sign language interpretation services for county and state government departments, hospitals, school districts and universities and other businesses in the United States. For more information about ACD, please call 954-578-3081 or visit


Putterman, S. (2018, January 31). Manatee sign language interpreter’s gibberish during Irma inspires new bill. Retrieved February 02, 2018, from 

Kuizon, K. (2018, February 01). Bill calls for sign language interpreter registration. Retrieved February 02, 2018, from

Stout, D. (2013, December 11). Sign-language interpreter at Mandela’s Memorial used ‘Made-Up’ Signs. Retrieved February 02, 2018, from 

Certified Deaf Interpreter (n.d.) Retrieved February 02, 2018. from