Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Are hospitals and other business required to have an interpreter?
    A: According to US Department of Justice, there is a model program in compliance for the ADA which requires hospitals to provide interpreting services, aids such as text telephone (TTY/TDD) and training of hospital personnel to accommodate the needs of deaf patients. For more information on ADA requirements please click: Healthcare Accessibility for Deaf Individuals.
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  • Q: Are all your interpreters certified?
    A: All of our interpreters that we use are certified either nationally or certified through the state of Texas.
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  • Q: What is a certified interpreter?
    A: A certified interpreter is an interpreter who has participated in a testing of their skills. In Texas, the test is conducted by the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and an appropriate level of skill is awarded. A Level I is considered a beginning interpreter while a Level V is considered an expert. Texas also recognizes interpreters with national certification, such as RID, CSC/CI CT.
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  • Q: Someone in our workplace knows how to sign. Can’t we just use them to interpret?
    A: This person may be able to converse in sign language, she or he may not have the education, knowledge, or skill set necessary to function as an interpreter. Interpreters are highly trained professionals who have passed written and performance exams and hold credentials. They provide the message faithfully and accurately, remaining impartial. Professional interpreters adhere to a Code of Professional Conduct, which includes confidentiality.
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  • Q: Can the deaf person’s family member or friend interpret for us?
    A: Never. Even if the family member or friend was a professional interpreter and therefore qualified to interpret, there would be too much personal involvement and emotional attachment to remain impartial. A friend or family member may not render the message faithfully or accurately and may not keep it confidential. There is no guarantee that effective communication will take place.
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  • Q: Why can’t the deaf person just write notes?
    A: American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language based on concepts with no written component. Studies have declared ASL as an actual language with its own syntax and grammatical rules. ASL can be compared to a foreign language because of the established syntax and grammar. Due to these reasons, English is, for most deaf people, a second language. Just as other individuals without a disability, communicating only in their second language is not effective, and can be remedied by communicating in their primary language. Additionally, those using a second language will have a broad range of fluency levels. Many times writing notes is insufficient, not only because of the reasons listed above, but also because the hearing individual attempting this form of communication often finds the interaction tedious and time-consuming. As frustration builds, the individual will unconsciously “shorten” the length of the appointment by omitting key details or instructions, thereby drastically reducing the quality of the service.
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  • Q: Why can’t the deaf person just read lips?
    A: Many factors contribute to the ineffectiveness of lip-reading. Only 30% of all English sounds are actually visible on the speaker’s lips, therefore, this is the primary reason lip-reading is a difficult means of communication. Mustaches, inconsiderate speakers, fast speakers, poor lighting, accents, lack of eye contact, group size, and lack of familiarity with the speaker are all contributory factors as well.
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  • Q: Why might we need two interpreters for this assignment?
    A: Sign Language Interpreting is both mentally and physically demanding. In agreement with industry standards, certain legal, highly technical, lengthy, or fast-paced platform assignments require more than one interpreter. Team interpreting increases the level of accuracy and decreases the likelihood that either interpreter will suffer a from injury. The most common injuries are to the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome), the arm (tendonitis), the shoulder (bursitis), and the spine.
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  • Q: What should I consider when hiring an interpreter or interpretation services?
    A: The following are things to consider:


    1. The deaf person needs to be in close proximity to both the interpreter and the speaker, and must face the interpreter.
    2. Be aware of the lighting situation. Good visibility is essential when reading lips or signing.
    3. If an appointment is over 1.5 hours, a second interpreter may be necessary due to the physical demands of interpreting. Please allow short breaks as needed.
    4. Remember that the interpreter is a neutral third party.
    5. The interpreter, as stated previously, is ethically required to interpret everything. As a result, do not say anything that you do not want repeated to the deaf person.
    6. Make eye contact and communicate directly with the deaf person, not the interpreter.
    7. Speak clearly and directly to the deaf person and do not treat as a third party. Allow the deaf person to respond, participate, and ask any questions he or she may have.
    8. Be mindful of the interpreter. He/she can only interpret one person at a time so don’t all speak at once.
    9. Do not hesitate to voice any questions or concerns directly to the interpreter.
    10. At the conclusion of the assignment, ask the deaf person if everything was satisfactory, Was he/she pleased with the interpreter, would he/she like to work with that interpreter again, and let the company providing the interpreter know about the experience so that they can better serve you in the future.

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