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H.161

AN ACT RELATING TO PROHIBITING DISCLOSURE OF COMMUNICATIONS MADE TO INTERPRETERS FOR PERSONS WITH LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENCY

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  1 V.S.A. § 339 is amended to read:

§ 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 deaf or hard of hearing impaired person or a person with limited English proficiency; or

(2)  any information obtained by the interpreter as a result of serving while acting in his or her capacity as an interpreter for a deaf or hard of hearing impaired person 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 deaf or hard of hearing impaired person 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 effect the mandatory reporting requirements of section 4913 of Title 33.

(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.

Sec. 2.  1 V.S.A. § 331 is amended to read:

§ 331.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this subchapter:

(1)  “Hearing impaired Deaf or hard of hearing person” 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 chapter 25 of Title 3, or other hearing before an administrative agency not included under chapter 25 of Title 3.

(3)  “Qualified interpreter” means an interpreter for a deaf or hard of hearing impaired person 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 hearing impaired.

Sec. 3.  1 V.S.A. § 332 is amended to read:

§ 332.  RIGHT TO INTERPRETER; ASSISTIVE LISTENING EQUIPMENT

(a)  Any deaf or hard of hearing impaired person 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 deaf or hard of hearing impaired person 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 deaf or hard of hearing impaired person 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.

Sec. 4.  1 V.S.A. § 333 is amended to read:

§ 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 deaf or hard of hearing impaired person, to accurately interpret statements or communications from the deaf or hard of hearing impaired person, and to interpret the proceedings to the deaf or hard of hearing impaired person.

* * *

Sec. 5.  1 V.S.A. § 336(a) is amended to read:

§ 336.  RULES; INFORMATION; LIST OF INTERPRETERS

(a)  The Vermont commission of the deaf and hearing impaired 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 readily communicate with the deaf or hard of hearing impaired person;

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

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

(4)  shall maintain confidentiality;

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

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

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

Sec. 6.  1 V.S.A. § 337 is amended to read:

§ 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 deaf or hard of hearing impaired person who was a party or a witness in the proceeding was deprived of an opportunity to communicate effectively and that the deprivation was prejudicial.

* * *

Sec. 7.  1 V.S.A. § 338 is amended to read:

§ 338.  ADMISSIONS; CONFESSIONS

(a)  An admission or confession by a deaf or hard of hearing impaired person 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 but not limited to 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 deaf or hard of hearing impaired person.

 

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us