A move by the city to hire its own sign-language interpreters instead
of contracting for such services is intended to save money, but
officials also hope it will improve services for the
The City Council recently authorized establishing a sign-language
interpreter position because of the increasing need for such services
in Park, Recreation and Community Services classes.
Presently, the city hires interpreters as needed from Lifesigns, a
program of the Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness. While the
work done by those interpreters has been exemplary, Park, Recreation
and Community Services Director Mike Flad said the hourly rate of
$100 was too costly.
“In some cases, we may charge only $50 for a cooking class and
then it costs $100 to serve some of those folks,” he said.
Interpreters hired by the city will be paid $20 per hour, and Flad
said outside help may still be contracted if scheduling and
circumstances warrant. While the interpreters will work primarily
with recreation programs, Flad said they could be assigned to other
city functions, such as translating at a City Council meeting.
Although saving money was the major reason for the change, Flad
hopes interpreters more familiar with the city will be a better
resource for hearing- impaired individuals.
“It definitely has the potential to improve service,” he said.
“There’s real value in having someone who knows where all the parks
are and what all our services are.”
The Burbank Unified School District employs its own interpreters
for cost effectiveness. Sandra Gaynon, the district’s director of
special education and psychological services, said their familiarity
with the schools also makes them a better option than contracted
translators. She also said working with the same interpreter is
beneficial to students, particularly if there is a lot of technical
information or complex terms.
“If something is very technical, a change in interpreters might be
detrimental,” Gaynon said. “The best situation is not to change.”