VT Legislation

Legislation relating to Interpreting

Subchapter 5: Interpreters For Judicial, Administrative, And Legislative Findings

§ 331. Definitions

As used in this subchapter:

(1) “Person who is deaf or hard of hearing” means any person who has such difficulty hearing, even with amplification, that he or she cannot rely on hearing for communication.

(2) “Proceeding” means any judicial proceeding, contested case under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, or other hearing before an administrative agency not included under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25.

(3) “Qualified interpreter” means an interpreter for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing who meets standards of competency established by the national or Vermont Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf as amended, by rule, by the Vermont Commission of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. (Added 1987, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. May 20, 2006; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

§ 332. Right to interpreter; assistive listening equipment

(a) Any person who is deaf or hard of hearing who is a party or witness in any proceeding shall be entitled to be provided with a qualified interpreter for the duration of the person’s participation in the proceeding.

(b) Any person who is deaf or hard of hearing shall be entitled to be provided with a qualified interpreter upon five working days’ notice that the person has reasonable need to do any of the following:

(1) Transact business with any State board or agency.

(2) Participate in any State-sponsored activity, including public hearings, conferences, and public meetings.

(3) Participate in any official State legislative activities.

(c) If a person who is deaf or hard of hearing is unable to use or understand sign language, the presiding officer or State board or agency or State legislative official shall, upon five working days’ notice, make available appropriate assistive listening equipment for use during the proceeding or activity. (Added 1987, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 20, 2006; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

§ 333. Appointment of interpreter

(a) The presiding officer in a proceeding shall appoint an interpreter after making a preliminary determination that the interpreter is able to readily communicate with the person who is deaf or hard of hearing, to accurately interpret statements or communications from the person who is deaf or hard of hearing, and to interpret the proceedings to the person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

(b) The presiding officer shall make findings when appointing an interpreter not designated as a qualified interpreter.

(c) It shall be a rebuttable presumption that the requirements of this section are met if the interpreter proposed for appointment is a qualified interpreter. It shall also be a rebuttable presumption that the requirements of this section are not met if the interpreter proposed for appointment is not a qualified interpreter. (Added 1987, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 13, eff. May 20, 2006; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

§ 334. Waiver

No privilege recognized by law may be deemed waived or made inapplicable by reason that a communication was made through an interpreter. (Added 1987, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 335. Compensation

An interpreter appointed under section 332 of this title is entitled to receive a reasonable fee for services, together with reimbursement of actual and necessary expenses, including travel and lodging expenses. In civil proceedings, the court may order that costs of the interpreter be paid by a party, as justice may require, or it may order that the costs be paid by the state. In criminal proceedings, costs of the interpreter shall be paid by the state. An interpreter used in connection with administrative proceedings, transacting state business or state-sponsored activities shall be provided at the expense of the agency involved. An interpreter used in connection with official state legislative activities shall be provided at the expense of the legislature. (Added 1987, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

§ 336. Rules; information; list of interpreters

(a) The Vermont Commission of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing shall, by rule, establish factors to be considered by the presiding officer under section 333 of this title before appointing an interpreter who is not a qualified interpreter. Such factors shall encourage the widest availability of interpreters in Vermont while at the same time ensuring that the interpreter:

(1) is able to communicate readily with the person who is deaf or hard of hearing;

(2) is able to interpret accurately statements or communications by the person who is deaf or hard of hearing;

(3) is able to interpret the proceedings to the person who is deaf or hard of hearing;

(4) shall maintain confidentiality;

(5) shall be impartial with respect to the outcome of the proceeding;

(6) shall not exert any influence over the person who is deaf or hard of hearing; and

(7) shall not accept assignments the interpreter does not feel competent to handle.

(b) Rules established by the Vermont Commission of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing pursuant to subdivision 331(3) of this title amending the standards of competency established by the national or Vermont Registry of the Deaf shall be limited to the factors set forth in subsection (a) of this section.

(c) The Vermont Commission of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing shall prepare an explanation of the provisions of this subchapter which shall be distributed to all State agencies and courts.

(d) The Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living shall maintain a list of qualified interpreters in Vermont and, where such information is available, in surrounding states. The list shall be distributed to all State agencies and courts. (Added 1987, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 14, eff. May 20, 2006; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

§ 337. Review

(a) A decision, order, or judgment of a court or administrative agency may be reversed on appeal if the court or agency finds that a person who is deaf or hard of hearing who was a party or a witness in the proceeding was deprived of an opportunity to communicate effectively, and that the deprivation was prejudicial.

(b) Any person denied a qualified interpreter under subsection 332(b) of this title, may appeal the denial through the administrative appeals process for the agency involved or, where no such administrative appeals process exists, through the Superior Court in the county in which the denial occurred or in Washington Superior Court. (Added 1987, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 15, eff. May 20, 2006; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

§ 338. Admissions; confessions

(a) An admission or confession by a person who is deaf or hard of hearing made to a law enforcement officer or any other person having a prosecutorial function may only be used against the person in a criminal proceeding if:

(1) The admission or confession was made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently and is not subject to alternative interpretations resulting from the person’s habits and patterns of communication.

(2) The admission or confession, if made during a custodial interrogation, was made after reasonable steps were taken, including the appointment of a qualified interpreter, to ensure that the defendant understood his or her constitutional rights.

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) of this section supplement the constitutional rights of the person who is deaf or hard of hearing. (Added 1987, No. 172 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 16, eff. May 20, 2006; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)

§ 339. Communications made to interpreters; prohibition on disclosure

(a) An interpreter, whether or not the interpreter is a qualified interpreter, shall not disclose or testify to:

(1) a communication made by a person to an interpreter acting in his or her capacity as an interpreter for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing or a person with limited English proficiency; or

(2) any information obtained by the interpreter while acting in his or her capacity as an interpreter for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing or a person with limited English proficiency.

(b) There is no prohibition on disclosure under this section if the services of the interpreter were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit what the person who is deaf or hard of hearing or the person with limited English proficiency knew or reasonably should have known to be a crime or fraud.

(c)(1) This section shall not be construed to limit or expand the effect of section 334 of this title.

(2) This section shall not be construed to alter or affect the mandatory reporting requirements of 33 V.S.A. § 4913.

(d) As used in this section, “person with limited English proficiency” means a person who does not speak English as his or her primary language and who has a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English. (Added 2003, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. May 20, 2006; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)