Proposed Revisions to Rule 21 NCAC 25 .0205

Note: This proposed rule has not been adopted for the 2022 license renewal cycle, therefore, this proposed rule will not apply for the 2022 license renewal cycle.

The North Carolina Interpreter & Transliterator Licensing Board (NCITLB) has proposed amending Rule 21 NCAC 25 .0205. Please see the Notice (posted on the NCITLB’s website) for the text of the proposed rule. Also, see below and the Notice for more details regarding the reasons for the proposed rule change. The NCITLB will accept public comment on the proposed rule change through May 2, 2022. Should you wish to make a comment on the proposed rule change, please see “How to Make a Public Comment” below. Also, the reason for the rule change and the procedure for subjecting a proposed rule to Legislative review are contained in “Form 0300” and are explained below.

Notice

Proposed Revisions to Rule 21 NCAC 25 .0205: See Proposed 21 NCAC 25 .0205, with additions underlined and deletions stricken through. The addition of the word “use” on line 9 makes a minor clarification. The addition of the word “pandemic” on line 26 provides an additional basis for a provisional extension request. The deletions of text on lines 30-33 remove the language regarding extending a provision license for one additional time after a moratorium ends.

Also, the addition of paragraph (f) on line 34 makes it clear that the “Board shall not for any reason renew or extend a provisional license for a fifth time.” Current paragraphs (f) and (g) are re-lettered to (g) and (h), respectively, because of the addition of the new paragraph (f). The proposed effective date of this amendment is July 1, 2022, so that it will apply to the upcoming (2022-23) licensure year.

How to Make a Public Comment (Written or Oral): Public comment must be received by the NCITLB on or before May 2, 2022, and can be made by email, U.S. Mail, fax, phone, or at the NCITLB’s physical address, as follows:

Email: ncitlb@caphill.com
U.S. Mail: NCITLB, Post Office Box 98328, Raleigh, NC 27624
Fax: 919-779-5642
Physical Address: NCITLB, 701 Exposition Place, Suite 206, Raleigh, NC 27615
Phone: 919-779-5709

Public Hearing: The NCITLB will also hold a public hearing on this proposed rule change to accept public comment. The public hearing is scheduled for March 31, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. (E.D.T.) on Zoom.

Reason for Proposed Rule Change:

Through an amendment in 2016, the NCITLB removed the then-existing 21 NCAC 25 .0205(f), which prohibited the NCITLB from renewing a provisional license for a sixth time. That change was necessary at that time due to a testing moratorium preventing provisional licensees on a major pathway to full licensure from taking the examination required to become fully licensed. However, that moratorium has since been lifted. An additional moratorium regarding testing for interpreters who are deaf has also been effectively lifted by a new test that is now available.

Since the prohibition was removed in 2016, the number of provisional licensees seeking renewal for a sixth time and beyond (rather than obtaining full licensure) has increased. In 2021 alone, approximately 20 provisional licensees would not qualify for an extension of their provisional license under the pre-2016 version of 21 NCAC 25 .0205(f).

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, which the licensees of the NCITLB serve as interpreters, has expressed concern over the poor quality of the interpreting skills of the provisional licensees seeking multiple renewals/extensions of their provisional licenses. In fact, a person currently seeking a provisional license need only obtain an Associate’s Degree in interpreting to qualify for a provisional license under one pathway to licensure. That person need not pass any separate skills test to determine the accuracy of the words correctly interpreted in order to obtain a provisional license. At present, such person can linger for years as a provisional licensee without developing the accuracy and skills necessary to become fully licensed. Interpreting accuracy and skill are of paramount importance during medical appointments, financial transactions, and numerous other interpreting situations.

The NCITLB finds that there is a compelling need to protect both the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community and the hearing community, which also relies upon accurate interpreting, by requiring provisional interpreters to advance to full licensure in an expedient manner by limiting the number of provisional license extensions allowable. In this regard, the NCITLB also finds that there is a compelling need to motivate provisional licensees to increase their skills to become full licensees in a timely manner in order to improve the quality of interpreting necessary for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the members of the public who rely upon interpreters.

The NCITLB further finds that the standards for becoming a provisional licensee contained in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90D-8, while in need of improvement, mean that a person holding a provisional license must (or should) already have basic interpreting skills, education, and training, such that the marginal advancement to full licensee should not take unlimited or even several years. Limiting renewals to four at most in the proposed amendment means that a provisional licensee would have an initial provisional license lasting up to a year and then up to four additional renewal years in which to progress from provisional licensee to full licensee. The Board finds that such is ample time, it is just and reasonable, and that the benefit to, and protection of, the deaf and hearing consumers of interpreting services substantially outweighs any burden to provisional licensees affected by this amendment.

Finally, the NCITLB has considered the impact of Covid-19 and the months during which testing was not conducted. However, during those months, most provisional licensees could have been working on their skills at home and/or through online resources and/or otherwise to improve their skills for obtaining full licensure when testing resumed. At present, testing has been generally available for at least several months.

Procedure for Subjecting a Proposed Rule to Legislative Review: If an objection to the proposed rule is not resolved prior to the adoption of the rule, a person may also submit written objections to the Rules Review Commission. If the Rules Review Commission receives written and signed objections in accordance with G.S. 150B-21.3(b2) from 10 or more persons clearly requesting review by the legislature and the Rules Review Commission approves the rule, the rule will become effective as provided in G.S. 150B-21.3(b1). The Commission will receive written objections until 5:00 p.m. on the day following the day the Commission approves the rule. The Commission will receive those objections by mail, delivery service, hand delivery, or email. If you have any further questions concerning the submission of objections to the Commission, please call a Commission staff attorney at 984-236-1850.