Utilizing an Unqualified American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter is a Massive Risk:

Hurricane Irma was an incredibly powerful category 5 hurricane. Affected areas include Cape Verde, Leeward Islands, Barbuda, Saint Barthelemy, Anguilla, Saint Martin and the Virgin Islands, Greater Antilles, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos Islands, The Bahamas and Eastern United States especially Florida. The tropical storm caused $64.76 billion dollars in damages and killed 134 people. Needless to say this was an intense storm and evacuation of certain areas was mandatory in order to save lives. During circumstances of this nature, it’s necessary to hire a professional American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter as to ensure members of the Deaf community have equal access to televised emergency briefings used to provide occupants with vital life saving information.

During the live televised public briefing regarding Hurricane Irma, an unqualified ASL interpreter was hired to relay evacuation information to deaf occupants residing in dangerous areas. The “ASL interpreter” signed gibberish, warning deaf viewers of bear monsters and pizza, completely neglecting to provide the life or death information in which he was hired to do. The Deaf community was outraged, a woman wrote on the county’s Facebook page, “Manatee County Emergency Operations — Who is this person you are using as a sign language interpreter? This person is not qualified!” She added people’s lives are in danger. 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.”

Passed Bill Requiring the Mandatory Use of a Certified ASL Interpreter:

In light of recent events, a bill has passed in Florida making it mandatory for officials to only utilize certified ASL interpreters for all televised emergency briefings. ASL interpreters are to be certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) or the Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (FRID). This bill aims to ensure Deaf community members are never put at risk due to a communication barrier. The downside of this bill is that it only requires the use of certified ASL interpreters in emergency situations. It is a step in the right direction of lessening discrimination faced by the Deaf community, however, its best to utilize the services of a professional ASL interpreter regarding medical, legal or any other matter where there is a language barrier present.

Professional ASL Interpreters:

It’s absolutely necessary to enlist the aid of a qualified professional ASL interpreter, they are trained far beyond just knowing how to communicate via ASL. Professional ASL interpreters are highly trained and well versed in the Deaf community’s language, culture, customs and interests. They are trained to utilize manual and visual approaches in order to communicate, they rely on facial expressions, body language, cultural impact as well as emotional perception in order to convey the intended message. Acquiring fluency and the ability to sign whatever, whenever requires time, dedication, study, immersion, lifelong learning and constant practice. Ultimately it takes immense dedication to become a professional ASL interpreter, this is why it’s mandatory to only hire professionals who have put in the time, effort and hard work.

Finding a Qualified ASL Interpreter is Simple:

If you’re in need of ASL interpretation services, it’s best to contact a reputable language service company (LSC) in order to gain access to qualified professionals. Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a LSC with over 20 years experience in the language service industry. They are dedicated to quality and accuracy in order to ensure their clients experience seamless communication. ASL interpretation can be provided on-site as well as through an online platform known as video remote interpreting (VRI) if remote ASL interpretation services are needed. Don’t hesitate to call on professionals when a professional job is in order, contact Niki’s Int’l Ltd. and rest easy knowing your message will be understood, regardless of a language barrier.

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 20 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at


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