In what should have been the end of scary ordeal for a Florida community, a scam has created confusion and hurt the Deaf community. A press conference was called by the Tampa Police Department to announce that the Seminole Heights Killer had been caught. A non-interpreter presented themselves as an interpreter and was allowed access.
It was assumed that this person was sent by TPD’s contracted interpreting agency. This person is not fluent in ASL or any other mode of signing. What they presented with their hands, face, and body was devoid of meaning.
In the room for the press conference was the Deaf mother of one of the victims. You can see the video and reactions from the community here.
There’s an assumption that public events like a press conference are cash cows for those providing services. These actually aren’t high profit events, but one theory is that this con-artist intended to bill the police department directly and pocket the check. The individual has been identified as a Derlyn Roberts, on probation for fraud. It’s been reported that she has shown up elsewhere in the community doing the same thing at funerals and other events.
Avoid making the same mistake
- Confirm with your interpreting agency the name and certification level of your assigned interpreter.
- Feel free to ask for ID. Interpreters typically carry ID and proof of our certifications for just this reason. If an individual is not willing to provide identification, they may not be who they seem. Legitimate interpreters will also have business cards for the agency they’re working with (this is not sufficient though, because they’re so easy to copy).
- If you’re still unsure (last minute requests or last minute changes can muddy the waters), call or email your agency to confirm and ask the person in question to wait. A legitimate interpreter will have no problem with this.
- If you’re hiring your first interpreter, go with a tried and true agency, not an individual whose business may not have an in depth vetting process… or may not be an actual business at all.
- Bear in mind that you can ask for more than your state’s minimum requirements. In Florida for example, the state law only calls for “qualified” interpreters. In this case it’s a moot point because the individual gained access via deception, not differing understanding of the word “qualified”, but you can ask for more! Feel free to work with your agency to fine tune your preferences on certification, years of experience, and areas of expertise.
Rose is a safe agency
- We let you know who your interpreters will be before your appointment. We always have and we always will.
- We background check all of our interpreters, both Staff and contractors. We carefully screen for convictions that would create concern with a person in a position of trust, like an interpreter.
- We’ve been in business since 2009. Over the years, our hiring and contracting process ensures safety and quality with a layered approach. We don’t work with everyone who applies with us, and others are limited to specific settings where their skill set is appropriate and the risk of harm is extremely low.
The family of the CODA who was killed is in our minds and hearts as we continue to improve services and transparency to prevent this kind of exploitation.
ASL version here