What is a ‘National Certified Interpreter’?

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf provides “an independent verification of an interpreter’s knowledge and abilities allowing them to be nationally recognized for the delivery of interpreting services among diverse users of signed and spoken languages.”1

Friend’s Interpreting Services requires all of its interpreters to be nationally certified, which means that all of our interpreters have been rigorously vetted by an independent third party.  This certification allows you to know that you will have access to an interpreter who is able to interpret sign language both receptively and expressively in a manner that is accurate and effective and has extensive knowledge of both regular vocabulary as well as specialized industry vocabulary.

Am I required to hire an ASL Interpreter?

It is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that you ensure that any interpreter hired is able to

  1. Fully understand sign in any type used and in turn use sign that is able to be understood by the Deaf or hard of hearing person
  2. Interpret without inserting their own opinions or emotions, and ensure that the tone and voice of the speaker is conveyed through their sign
  3. Understand and use specialized vocabulary in such a way that it is clear to the Deaf or hard of hearing person being with whom information is being communicated.

Friend’s Interpreting Services only uses certified interpreters so that you know that you have an interpreter who has all the skills to help both parties communicate with ease.

How do I use a sign language interpreter?

A sign language interpreter is a professional who is able to facilitate communication between an individual who uses the American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate and one who is not familiar with ASL. These interpreters are essential to any business, school, or other organizations who interactors with a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing, as they are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to “ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities.”

It is the job of an interpreter to withhold any personal opinions, advice, or support to either side involved.

Why do I need an interpreter?

In order to ensure that there is clear and accurate communication among all individuals, any business, school, medical practice, or other organization is required to provide a sign language interpreter for anyone who requires one. This not only facilitates communication, but it also allows the interpreter to aid in lowering the risk of a cultural misunderstanding and guide the organization in creating an environment that makes communication more accessible to all.

Does the law require me to hire an interpreter?

The U.S. Department of Justice directly states that “Covered entities must provide aids and services when needed to communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities.”source

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), any place of business or organization is not allowed to discriminate against individuals by denying unequal access to any given services or events. And so, any business or organization must be ready, willing, and able to hire a sign language interpreter at their own expense in order to meet the needs of these individuals and provide equal access to regular communication.

While there are some exemptions to this law, it is best to consult your legal professional for further aid and information.

Am I able to use a family member as an interpreter?

While family members are typically able to communicate with their loved ones using sign language, it is not considered a best practice to allow them to do so in a medical, business, or professional setting. This is mainly due to a concern of the family member’s skill when it comes to signing with the specialized terminology, sensitive nature of the information, and age or relation of the family member.

Each field of work has its own specialized terminology that is not used in an everyday setting, which means there is a chance that the family member may not be familiar with the signs for the words, thus making them unqualified to serve as an interpreter in the setting.

Another concern is that one might not want to share private information with the family member. Because of this, the individual who is Deaf or hard of hearing may withhold information out of a desire to protect their privacy.

Finally, an untrained family member is often prone to omitting, adding, or leaving out information because they may not understand the need to interpret every single detail conveyed to them.

Is it okay to use a staff member or volunteer who knows some sign language?

Similar to the response of using a family member, it is difficult to assess the signing skills of this person when it comes to specialized terms and professional communication, and so, it is best to err on the side of hiring an interpreter.

Why can’t someone just read lips?

Most people assume that anyone who is able to sign can also read lips. While this may hold some truth, reading lips is not as easy or effective as you may think. In fact, only about 30% of speech is able to be truly understood through reading lips. This means that almost 70% of a conversation is unclear to the lip reader, creating a large opportunity for miscommunication to occur. In addition to this, it is not just up to the lip reader to be able to read lips, but also the person speaking to do so in a manner which communicates the words clearly –

It is important to keep in mind that, while you may personally know someone who is able to read lips well, it is not the case for all Deaf or hard of hearing people.

How many interpreters do I need?

It is required that two (2) interpreters to be hired for any assignment that is scheduled to last 2 hours or longer.

This is partly due to the fact that the quality of interpretation will suffer if the interpreter is working constantly for more than 45 minutes. For this reason, it is required that there be an appropriate number of interpreters available at any given time to allow proper physical breaks and the best quality interpretation possible.

When working in a team, each interpreter has their own role in the setting which ensures that the communication between the speaker and receiver is accurate. While one of the interpreters provides the signed communication, the other interpreter is responsible for ensuring that there are no miscommunications, serve as support for the signing interpreter, and ensuring that time is kept in order to know when to switch roles.

There are many specific guidelines related to this rule that the interpreters should be trained to understand, but it is always best to consult with a legal advisor to understand fully the regulations in these situations.

How soon do I need to notify Friends Interpreting Services to schedule an interpreter?

Please send your request for American Sign Language interpreter services requests as soon as possible

We have been able to provide one for Video Remote Interpreting in as little as a 30-minute notice.

It is best to keep in mind that there are a limited number of interpreters who are available, and that extra time should be considered for how long it takes to contact an interpreter and to allow adequate travel time.

What will it look like having an interpreter?

When an interpreter is used, they are expected to sit or stand across from the Deaf or hard of hearing person and close to the person who is doing the speaking.

The person speaking should talk at the Deaf or hard of hearing person directly, rather than towards the interpreter.

The interpreter will sign the words the speaker is saying to the Deaf or hard of hearing person and in turn will watch the signs that the Deaf or hard of hearing person is using in order to relay the information to the individual who does not know ASL.

Where do professional interpreters work?

Someone who decides to become a professional interpreter can work in a number of different settings depending on their passion as well as their skillset. These places include private practices, in a political sector, specialized businesses or agencies, any level of the school system, and even as self-employed consultants. This job requires a high level of flexibility and professional training.

Can interpreting services be tax deductible?

Yes. You are able to deduct a portion of payments for the interpreting services. It is best to consult with your business or organization’s financial advisor to understand the exact details.

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