One of the primary services offered by our agency is Sign Language interpreting. This page
explains facts about the interpreting profession, and answers questions regarding using
|What does an Interpreter DO?
According to the RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf), Sign Language/spoken
English interpreters are highly skilled professionals. They must be able to listen to
another person's words, inflections and intent and simultaneously render them into
the visual language of signs using the mode of communication preferred by the
deaf consumer. The interpreter must also be able to comprehend the signs,
inflections and intent of the deaf consumer and simultaneously speak them in
articulate, appropriate English. They must understand the cultures in which they
work and apply that knowledge to promote effective cross-cultural communications.
To find out more about the interpreting profession, visit the website for RID at www.rid.org.
|ASL Services Interpreters
We utilize a network of certified and highly-qualified interpreters, all working in accordance with the
Pennsylvania Interpreter Law Act 57. Our interpreters abide by the Interpreters Code of Professional Conduct,
as defined by RID. We have interpreters that can be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact the PA
Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) for more information on Act 57 or services for the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing in PA. (www.dli.state.pa.us/odhh)
Language), PSE (Pigeon Signed English), SEE (Signed Exact English), Deaf/Blind (tactile interpreting for
deaf individuals with limited vision or totally blind), and Oral Interpreting.
Our interpreters have interpreted for a variety of settings, including: corporate, medical, educational,
legal,theatrical, religious, political and vocational.
|ATTENTION HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS! Please
Click Here to see a document developed by the Legal
Department at the National Association for the Deaf
(NAD) regarding responsibilities of health care
providers to their deaf or hard-of-hearing patients
Frequently Asked Questions About Interpreting:
What is American Sign Language?
ASL is a rich, beautiful, complex language. It is comprised of a combination of hand movement and placement,
facial expression, and body language. Many people are familiar with the manual alphabet, but the language is
far more than that. American Sign Language is a complete language, comparable to all other foreign
languages in that it has its own syntax and grammar unique to itself. Someone who has grown up with ASL as
their native language may have a difficult time understanding written English. For these individuals,
interpreters may be needed to interpret various important documents.
Why do I need to hire an interpreter?
Sign language interpreting is an effective means of providing communications access to your business or
organization. Providing a sign language interpreter saves time, and reduces confusion, liability, and frustration
for all parties involved.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) says that a variety of public and private services as well as
employers must be accessible to all people, regardless of their disability. When an employer, service provider,
government agency or private business is dealing with people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind,
communication with them must be accessible. The best way to ensure quality communication with these
individuals is to utilize a professional Interpreter.
An interpreter should be used whenever you want to accurately and efficiently convey information. Examples
might be official meetings, social events, disciplinary proceedings, telephone conferences, medical
appointments, and meetings open to the public. Utilizing an interpreter ensures that impartiality and
confidentiality while the information is being conveyed. Impartiality and confidentiality allows all parties to
participate equally by using their own native language.
|Is the Deaf person responsible for payment?
No. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a business or organization cannot charge a person
with a disability for the cost of the accommodation, such as a sign language interpreter. Also, keep in mind
that the hearing consumers are utilizing the interpreting services just as much as the deaf consumers. For
more information refer to the ADA website. Health Care Providers can click to view a Question and Answer
Document published by NAD regarding the ADA and providing services to deaf patients.
Isn't it expensive to pay for interpreting services?
Interpreters are professionals who have trained and developed skills to attain certification in their field. There
are a limited number of interpreters with a considerable demand for their services. Interpreting services
should be budgeted as part of your annual planning for making your business accessible. It is true that, on a
per-encounter basis, you may pay more for interpreting services than you generate in revenue for your
company. However, if you consider the cost over the course of a year as an overhead cost of doing business,
providing this access to your employees, customers, or patients can be quite reasonable. There can also be
tax credits for providing accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
|Someone at my company knows sign language. Can I have that person interpret for us?
Interpreting is a complex task requiring more than just basic knowledge of sign language. The process of
translating a message from one language to another requires considerable proficiency in both languages, as
well as knowing principles of interpreting accurately. Professional Interpreters hold certification from national
certifying organizations and carry professional liability insurance. In the case someone who knows some sign
language at your facility, there is no guarantee of quality, accuracy, or confidentiality of information.
Why can't the Deaf person use a family member to interpret for them?
There are a number of factors to consider in this situation. Ethical concerns, privacy, security, emotions, and
liability are factors. Especially in cases of emergency situations, it would be highly unethical to place a family
member in the middle of translating critical communications when they need to be focusing on personal
matters. In some cases, subjects will come up in conversation that may be inappropriate for the family
member to be party to. Also, the liability situation can become quite complicated if a family member makes a
mistake in the midst of stress. Incorrect medication can be given, financial decisions can be misdirected, and
other communication complications could adversely affect the Deaf person's life. Just because a family
member may be able to communicate in sign language does not mean that they can function as an effective
interpreter. Qualified interpreters should always be employed to avoid unfavorable results.
Tips for using a Sign Language Interpreter
• Look AT the person when signing/speaking to them through an interpreter. Also look at the person who is
signing/speaking to you. This may feel awkward at first since the spoken or signed words are coming
through your interpreter.
• Address the deaf person directly:
may be coming into your situation with little or no knowledge about your business, and background
information will help facilitate communication.
• If, during the assignment, you plan to turn down the lights, remember to leave enough lighting on the
interpreter. This may require some kind of auxiliary lighting for the interpreter.
• The interpreter may ask for specific seating/positioning to facilitate the best viewing angles. It is usually
best that the deaf consumer can see the interpreter and the presenter in the same field of view.
• Sign or Speak in your normal tone, at a normal pace. The interpreter will inform you if you need to pause
or slow down.
• Sometimes people read aloud at a faster pace than they typically sign or speak. When reading a large
amount from written materials, consider providing a copy to the deaf audience members and the
• Be mindful that the interpreter should interpret EVERYTHING said. Avoid discussing subjects you
don’t wish the other person to know. Don't ask the interpreter to omit anything. Don't say something like
"Don't interpret this," because that is exactly what will be interpreted!
• Don't ask the interpreter to interject personal opinions.
• If the individual with whom you are communicating is not present, avoid giving messages to the interpreter
for later relay to the individual.
• If you are unsure of the appropriate way to proceed in a particular situation, just ask for clarification.
• Recognize that all information discussed is kept confidential.
• Be aware that interpreting is physically and mentally fatiguing for both the interpreter and the client. Plan
for breaks appropriately.
interpreter's ability to process the message and interpret it accurately diminishes after approximately
20 minutes of interpreting. Additionally, sign language interpreters have a high rate of repetitive
motion injuries. Therefore, when an assignment is over 1.5-2 hours of continuous
interpreting, a team of two interpreters will be scheduled... They will work as a team with one
always being the support person to "feed" signs to the person actively interpreting. They will switch
roles approximately every 20 minutes, to ensure that the message is interpreted accurately for the full
length of your assignment. A team of 2 may also be assigned based on specific needs of an
assignment (highly technical subject matter, providing voice interpreting for a deaf presenter using
ASL, deaf-blind tactile interpreting, etc.)