frequently asked questions

When do I need to hire a Sign Language Interpreter?

Anytime you have someone who is Deaf, Deaf-Blind, or Hard of Hearing.  The Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act of 1990 states that both  public and private agencies as well as employers must be accessible to  all, regardless of disability. In many cases, the best way to ensure  accessibility is to have a qualified Sign Language Interpreter.

Who is responsible for paying for an interpreter for a Deaf individual?

A company or organization is responsible for payment of interpreting  services. This also includes non-profit organizations providing  interpreters for public events. It is not the Deaf individual's  responsibility to provide an interpreter when accessing services proved  to the general public.

Can we write notes back and forth, or can the Deaf person read lips, instead of using an interpreter?

It is time consuming and still only allows for partial understanding  for the Deaf since English is really their second language. Writing  notes back and forth can hinder communication between those who are Deaf  and hearing. A Deaf person can read and write, however, ASL is often  their first language, and therefore written information may cause  further confusion. Furthermore, a Deaf person who is an excellent lip  reader will only get about 33% of what you are saying. For the average  Deaf individual, that percentage is much lower.

If a person knows Sign Language can, they sign the information to a Deaf individual?

Interpreting  is a very complex task that requires more than just knowing some Sign  Language. The process of translating a message from one language to  another requires a high level of proficiency in both languages. A  co-worker, or someone who is responsible for other duties in your  workplace, should not be put in the position of interpreting for a Deaf  colleague or customer. Signing for their peer takes away from his/her  ability to perform his/her assigned duties. Additionally, there is no  guarantee of quality, accuracy, or confidentiality of information when  not using a certified interpreter. In many cases, more damage has been  done by a "signer" who is trying to help out, requiring more extensive  interpreting time to repair the misunderstandings caused by not using an  interpreter the first time.

What does it take to become an interpreter?

Interpreting  is a complex task, requiring near-native skills in at least two  languages as well as a deep knowledge of two cultures. A skilled  interpreter's job is to provide the full content of an interaction  between two or more people who do not share the same language. Most  interpreters have studied American Sign Language for two to five years,  plus one to three years of interpreter training. They are also required  to continue expanding their skills on an annual basis.

What is considered a qualified interpreter?

Qualified  interpreters hold certification and/or license in their respective  state(s) and participate in continuing education programs. Interpreters  are assigned only to those jobs for which he/she has been determined  eligible. They must possess the ability to effectively communicate and  interpret between ASL and English. All of our interpreters adhere to a  strict code of professional ethics: 1.Interpreters/transliterators shall  keep all assignment-related information strictly confidential.  2.Interpreters/transliterators shall render the message faithfully,  always conveying the content and spirit of the speaker using language  most readily understood by the person(s) they serve. 3.  Interpreters/transliterators shall not counsel, advise or interject  personal opinions. 4.Interpreters/transliterators shall accept  assignments using discretion with regard to skill, setting and the  consumers involved. 5.Interpreters/transliterators shall request  compensation for services in a professional and judicious manner.  6.Interpreters/transliterators shall function in a manner appropriate to  the situation. 7.Interpreters/transliterators shall strive to further  their knowledge and skills. 8.Interpreters/transliterators shall strive  to maintain high professional standards in compliance with the NAD/RID  Code of Ethics.

Where can I go to learn ASL?

Many  colleges, universities and continuing education centers offer courses  in American Sign Language. Here is a partial list; more information is  available on the internet: Johnson County Community College Florence  Valley Community College William Woods University How long has American  Sign Language (ASL) been around? ASL was first introduced in the Untied  States in 1816 by Thomas Gallaudet, founder of the American School for  the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.

Why do I need two interpreters for my meeting?

Interpreting  is both a mental and physical process. Interpreting for an extended  length of time can be exhausting. When an assignment is over one-two  hours, two interpreters will be scheduled. The interpreters will relieve  each other approximately every 20 minutes to ensure that the message is  interpreted accurately for the full length of your assignment. Research  has shown that an interpreters' ability to mentally process the message  and interpret it accurately can diminish after 20 minutes. Most  interpreters are usually unaware that his or her accuracy has decreased.  Thus, misinformation is being unwittingly transmitted. Additionally,  the rate of repetitive motion injuries among Sign Language interpreters  is very high (some studies have shown over 60% of interpreters suffering  some injuries that require medical treatment).

Provide good lighting for the interpreter.

If  an interpreting situation requires darkening the room to view slides,  videotapes, or films, auxiliary lighting such as a small lamp or  spotlight is necessary so that the person who is deaf, hard of hearing,  or deaf-blind can see the interpreter clearly. If auxiliary lighting is  not available, check to see if room lights can be dimmed and still  provide sufficient lighting to see the interpreter. If it cannot be  arranged on site, inform the interpreter and suggest the interpreter  bring a flashlight.

Schedule breaks during the meeting.

The interpreter and the consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or  deaf-blind will need occasional breaks. These breaks allow time for the  consumer to relieve eye strain caused by focusing on one position for a  long period of time and for the interpreter to rest his or her hands and  mind. Physical strain is also experienced by both the consumer who is  deaf-blind and the tactile interpreter during prolonged interpreting  situations, so frequent breaks should be scheduled for both.

Remember that the interpreter may be a few words behind the speaker.

Don't  speak too slowly or too quickly. If necessary, the interpreter or  consumer may ask the speaker or signer to slow down or repeat a word or  sentence for clarification. Given the nature of the interpreting  process, the best interpreters use time lag to absorb an entire thought  from the first language before producing it in the other language. All  consumers should allow enough time for the message to be received and  transmitted, so that either party can ask questions or join the  discussion.

Recognize that the interpreter is a professional.

If there is sufficient time, a meeting agenda and/or a vocabulary list  (for technical situations) may be mailed to the interpreter or provided  when he or she arrives at the site. If the consumer who is deaf, hard of  hearing, deaf-blind or hearing is new to the interpreter, it is  recommended that they meet a few minutes before the assignment to  introduce themselves. This enables the interpreter and the consumer to  become accustomed to each other's sign dialect and preferences. The  interpreters and consumers will agree on the best placement for the  interpreter, (i.e., in sufficient light, not in front of a bright light  source, etc.).