Twenty years ago when hospitals or businesses needed sign language interpreting they often spent hours calling through a list of names and phone numbers. While the list might include someone who was actually certified and qualified, there was no mechanism in place to ensure qualifications. Many of the people were on the list because they self-identified as interpreters or because they were referred by well-intentioned but often misinformed sources. At that time Sonoma County had only one certified interpreter and hundreds of Deaf and Hard-of-hearing people needing interpreting. Hospitals and businesses typically did not and do not have the resources to evaluate sign language interpreters. Screening for certification, interpretation proficiency, background checks, and meeting industry-specific standards is cost-prohibitive and requires expertise.
Seeing the need for a more reliable and standards-based way to hire interpreters, Communique was founded with the goal of fostering the development and certification of working interpreters and of ensuring the provision of qualified sign language interpreters no matter the time of day or night.