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Sign language interpreters will soon have to be licensed in Maryland

The Maryland State House in Annapolis. Photo by Matt Bush/WYPR.
Matt Bush/WYPR
The Maryland State House in Annapolis.

Starting on January 1st 2025, sign language interpreters will have to be licensed by a new Maryland state board. That’s under a bill signed this week by Governor Wes Moore to coincide with National Sign Language Interpreter Appreciation Day, which was May 1st.

Montgomery County Democratic Senator Nancy King says the change is needed to modernize the profession. “We just got to the point where we were hearing so many complaints from people in the medical field and the legal field that had interpreters who weren’t quite as qualified as they should be,” King told WYPR. “Mistakes can be made very easily as far as medical decisions go.”

The new licensing board — to be called the State Board of Sign Language Interpreters — will be under the Maryland Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Next year’s budget from the Governor will include $100,000 to help the board to start up. Legislative analysis of the bill shows the circuit courts and small businesses may feel a pinch in the number of available interpreters, but that would be offset by being assured they’ll receive the services they paid for by having all interpreters licensed.

Matt Bush spent 14 years in public radio prior to coming to WYPR as news director in October 2022. From 2008 to 2016, he worked at Washington D.C.’s NPR affiliate, WAMU, where he was the station’s Maryland reporter. He covered the Maryland General Assembly for six years (alongside several WYPR reporters in the statehouse radio bullpen) as well as both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. @MattBushMD
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