For the past two months KATV has been reporting on the controversy surrounding the state's hire of an under-qualified sign language interpreter.
There is a major development in that situation today.
After complaints from clients, Arkansas' deaf community and even national organizations, the woman hired as an interpreter has a new job title: vocational placement rehab specialist.
Same pay…about $35,000…and she won't have to return to college to learn how to do this job.
When a sign-language interpreter hired by the state was going back to school to take sign language classes, we asked Career Education Director Bill Walker why.
"This candidate already beat out six candidates with national certification. Why seek the certification now?"
"Well because we don't limit it to certification only," answered Director Walker back in July. "We made a decision based on the totality of the issues."
For two months Director Walker has defended the hire, but in a statement released Friday he now says "I believe that I made a mistake in hiring her for the interpreter position."
State Representative Bryan King had this to say about Director Walker's announcement: "I will work to raise the qualifications for those hired as interpreters so that this doesn't happen again. Director Walker and Mr. Trevino's management did not serve the deaf community or the people of Arkansas."
Dr. Glenn Anderson…a U.A.L.R. assistant professor and a deaf Arkansan, states he hopes the state "…will now move forward with filling the interpreter position with a qualified individual…deaf and hard of hearing people…deserve access to well-qualified and skilled interpreters."
Throughout this controversy KATV has made the decision not to name the interpreter…deciding that the responsibility for her hiring rested more with Director Walker as head of the agency.
There are those in the deaf community who disagree…saying she should not have accepted a job she was not qualified to do.
Here is the entire statement offered by Dr. Anderson:
"For many in the deaf and the interpreting community, Mr. Walker's decision to reassign (_____ _____) to another position rather than keep her in the interpreter position is welcome news. We wish Ms. (_____) well in her new position. Although there has been no official communication from Mr. Walker, we hope that ARS (Arkansas Rehabilitation Services) will now move forward with filling the interpreter position with a qualified individual who has the appropriate training, experience, and interpreting credentials. Deaf and hard of hearing people served by ARS deserve access to well-qualified and skilled interpreters."
Here is the entire statement from State Rep. Bryan King:
"This was a victory for the deaf community. I will work to raise the qualifications for those hired as interpreters so that this doesn't happen again. I appreciate those in the deaf community that showed true courage by speaking up. Director Walker and Mr. Trevino's management did not serve the deaf community or the people of Arkansas."
Click here to read Bill Walker's statement.
Click here to see the interpreter's new job description.
Air date: August 31st, 2012
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