Frequently Asked Questions

Sign Language

What is a Sign Language Interpreter?
Sign language interpreters are trained professionals who provide the necessary communication link between hearing and deaf or hard of hearing individuals. Interpreters benefit both parties involved with the conversation. Interpreters receive training from an Interpreter Training Program and are certified by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) or by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD).

How do Sign Language Interpreters Work?
Sign Language Interpreters interpret the signed message into spoken English for the hearing consumer. They also interpret (using American Sign Language [ASL]) or transliterate (using English word order) the spoken message for the consumer who is deaf or hard of hearing.

Oral Interpreters work with consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing and who rely solely on speech reading for communication. An oral interpreter enunciates, repeats and/or rephrases a speaker's remarks using natural lip movements and gestures. They carefully choose words that are more visible on the lips.

Tactile Interpreters work with deaf or hard of hearing individuals who have a visual impairment and receive communication through touch.

Certified Deaf Interpreters are deaf or hard of hearing individuals who transmit message content between a deaf consumer and a hearing interpreter. They will also work with deaf and blind individuals.

Interpreters convey the intent, feeling and content of the message to both parties involved. Following the Code of Professional Conduct established by the BEI, RID and NAD, interpreters keep all information confidential and do not interject personal opinions.

To What Standards are Sign Language Interpreters Held?
Sign Language Interpreters are held to the National Association of the Deaf/Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (NAD/RID) Code of Professional Conduct.
When applying these principles to their conduct, interpreters remember that their choices are governed by a "reasonable interpreter" standard. This standard represents the hypothetical interpreter who is appropriately educated, informed, capable, aware of professional standards, and fairÐminded.

How much does an interpreter cost?
Costs vary and depend upon factors such as language combination, the length of the assignment, the nature of the subject matter, the location and the number of people involved.

What is a "certified" interpreter?
Interpreters who are fluent in ASL and often who have attended an interpreter training program then advance in their careers by testing for certification. Becoming certified allows interpreters to work in educational, legal, and medical facilities within states with licensure laws. RID, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and NAD, the National Association of the Deaf, are the two most common accrediting agencies through which interpreters become certified.

Certification consists of two exams; first a written exam which tests the interpreterÕs understanding of Deaf culture, Deaf history, ethical guidelines, laws, and other aspects of their profession. The second half of their certification process is a performance exam, taken often months after the written exam. The performance test evaluates the interpreters signing, voicing, comprehension, and other physical aspects of sign language interpreting.

What is the role of an interpreter?
An interpreter is a communication broker between two parties who do not share a common language. An interpreter is not an advocate, they cannot offer legal advise or their personal opinion. Interpreters will sign what you voice, and they will voice what your client signs. Interpreters operate in first person to retain the message in its entirety.

Where can I read more about the laws and guidelines of interpreters?

U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division -Disability Rights Section - "A Guide to Disability Rights Laws"

NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct