Sioux Falls, S.D. – A big shortage is being felt in a community here in South Dakota.
There aren’t enough interpreters for those in the deaf community and it’s a problem that reaches all areas for those individuals. According to the South Dakota Association of the Deaf, there are 500 plus deaf and hard of hearing students in the state of South Dakota.
The number of interpreters for those students and others in the community falls far below what’s needed. Isaac Nold can light up a room. “He is a wonderful, wonderful young man,” Isacc’s mom Teresa said. “He is just, he keeps surprising people with all of his abilities that he has proven he can do.” Isaac was born deaf, but his mom Teresa and his dad Timothy said he doesn’t take ‘no you can’t’; showing everyone what he can do.
Isaac is deaf with additional disabilities,” Teresa said. “So he has cerebral palsy and a couple of rare syndromes. We all require communication assistance in terms of using interpreters, but we all have very different needs.” But, a shortage of interpreters is causing growing concern.
I think it would be a huge barrier in terms of if we had to go to medical appointments,” Teresa said. “It would be his parents trying to interpret and that would take away from us being able to be his parents.” Mark Koterwski is the senior community support specialist at communication service for the deaf. KSFY News Reporter Michaela Feldmann spoke with him through an interpreter Thursday.
“With interpreters, you want to have options,” Koterwski said. “Sometimes we work at options. They might use video interpreting as we are today and we use communication assistance to support the students in their communities.” He said after the School for the Deaf closed years ago, students were mainstreamed into schools. Many times there isn’t an interpreter or there is a different one each day.
“The interpreter may not be familiar with that student, with the curriculum, how the day tends to go,” Koterwski said. “So it becomes a barrier for the student as they have to start fresh each day.”
“What if the interpreter calls in sick?” Isaac’s dad Timothy said. “Where is another interpreter to take over? There is nothing. So the deaf person just sits there and that’s not right. That’s not equal to what others get.”