Missouri bill to make sign language interpreter certification optional sparks outrage

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new proposal in the Missouri state legislature is sparking outrage among people in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

“It is a slap in the face,” said James Frost, president and owner of Signing Edge.

House Bill 789 would make it optional in Missouri for businesses and state agencies to hire a certified and licensed sign language interpreter.

“So when you want to go fly on a plane and take a vacation, do you want someone who is qualified and has training and background and licensing to fly that plane?” Frost asked rhetorically. “Or do you want someone who just wants to try it and they learn from a book?”

Frost recalls a doctor’s appointment in 1991 before Missouri required medical facilities to provide a certified interpreter.

“That interpreter only knew how to finger spell using their ABC’s,” Frost said. “Can you imagine trying to interpret a medical appointment everything by just reading the letters?”

The bill is sponsored by State Rep. Derek Grier (R-Chesterfield). Messages left with Grier’s officer were not returned Friday.

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