170818_local_deaf.jp

In high school, Sarah Kurtz had deaf friends. So she and a couple of friends learned sign language. By her senior year, Kurtz learned that there was a degree in American Sign Language and English.

“So I just fell in to it,” she said. “I went to college, got my degree and came out and interpreted for school districts and stuff like that. I loved it. I can’t imagine doing anything different.”

Kurtz worked for a sign language interpreting company for nine years before she saw an opportunity to transition to start her own agency, Beyond Interpreting.

“Lucky for me I found two really great partners,” she said.

Kurtz, April Merino-Brammell and Michelle DeMartino branched out on their own and started Beyond Interpreting a few months ago. Many members of their agency have personal connections with the deaf community, including family members who are deaf.

All three women are interpreters who have other roles in operating the new business.

“Most importantly, when we sat down together ... we wanted to make sure that services were still being provided,” she said. “We didn’t want to see a gap. It’s important for the rural communities to be served.”

Beyond Interpreting covers Northwest Missouri and the Kansas City, Missouri, metro area. Kurtz said there are seven full-time interpreters working from Raymore to Oregon, Missouri, in addition to 12 contractors.

“Business has rapidly increased in the last month out of referrals,” Kurtz said. “We’re probably in the place where we really need to get some recruiting out there.”

Beyond Interpreting offers their services from staff meetings, job interviews, medical procedures and appointments, legal settings, educational settings, counseling and mental health settings.

“I get to do something different every day,” Kurtz said.

Beyond Interpreting is a 24-hour service that can be reached by calling 660-491-0145. The company also can be reached by email at beyondinterpretingbi@gmail.com or through the website www.beyond-interpreting.com.

Jenn Hall can be reached at jenn.hall@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPHall.