Deaf in The Desert – Part II – Interpreting Services

Betty Ludwick

Meet Betty.

Betty Ludwick has been a Sign Language Interpreter in the Palm Springs area for many years. Betty is a hearing child of Deaf parents and worked as a teacher in the Palm Springs Unified School District for over 30 years. She has taught American Sign Language classes at College of the Desert, holds a national certification, and is a court qualified sign language interpreter. When I first moved to the desert area, Betty’s name came up again and again. There are too few qualified interpreters in the Coachella Valley. Betty keeps trying to retire, but she remains “in demand”.

The ‘Deaf / Interpreter” ratio is a classic case of the chicken and the egg. If there are few Deaf residents in a community, interpreters will not move in as there will be little demand for their services. If there are few Interpreters in an area, it’s difficult to establish a Deaf Community.

Betty brought her unique perspective and insight to the Forum. The following highlights much of her presentation.

Interpreters are neutral, unbiased communication facilitators. It is their sole responsibility to enable active communication between the Deaf and the Hearing. Confidentiality is crucial to the maintenance of a professional atmosphere.

Individual differences and preferences must be considered when seeking interpreting services. It is imperative that service providers actively include consumers and ask for their language preferences. Deaf individuals must feel empowered to advocate for their needs. Those requesting services are often unaware that varying forms of sign language even exist. An ASL interpreter would not be effective if interpreting for a Deaf person who uses Signed English.

According to Betty, service providers in the Coachella Valley are not meeting the requirements set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding interpreters to facilitate communication. Local hospitals, local legal entities….these settings are most vulnerable and most ‘in need’. In medical settings, it is imperative that service providers use qualified interpreters so that deaf or hard of hearing patients may be active participants in their health care. It goes without saying, legal settings are critical arenas demanding clear communication.

Due to the lack of qualified interpreters within the Coachella Valley, Betty suggested setting up an Interpreter Education Program (IEP) through California State University. At this time, the best way to secure interpreters is to request services well in advance. This luxury is often just not an option. Ironically, the Interpreters providing services at the Forum drove in from Riverside.

In attendance at the Town Hall meeting – – Elizabeth Mckinley who serves as the new Interpreting Services Coordinator at College of the Desert. The College is aware of the need in our desert communities and is also aware of the role they can play in helping to provide solutions. No specifics yet, but Elizabeth shared that changes are in the works at C.O.D. In her role as the Coordinator, she is in a position to help facilitate these changes and help keep this need a priority.

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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2 Responses to “Deaf in The Desert – Part II – Interpreting Services”

  1. Walter K. Bloch, LMFT Says:

    Good afternoon. We at Jewish Family Service of the Desert are a social service agency, providing counseling to all sectors of the Coachella Valley. We have been contacted by a client, that would like to receive counseling, and would need the services of an interpreter after his first or second session. Would your organization be a provider of said services.
    Walter K. Bloch, LMFT


    • Evelyn Says:

      Hello Mr. Bloch and thank you for your comment. I’ll respond to your inquiry via email.

      All the best,
      Evelyn Hunter
      The Sign Language Company


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