Interpreting Services FAQ - Sign Language

Hiring the Interpreter

Why do I need to hire an interpreter?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 mandates that a comprehensive variety of public and private services as well as employers must be accessible to all people, regardless of disability. When dealing with people who are Deaf, Deaf-blind, or hard of hearing, this means that communication must be accessible. The best way to ensure this is to have a professional Interpreter.

Who is required to pay for an interpreter?

The ADA states that all public and private agencies that provide services to the general public, and all employers with 15 or more employees, must be accessible. This means that, if your agency, service, or business is accessible to people without disabilities, it must be accessible to people with disabilities. Additionally, companies with 15 or more employees must follow fair hiring and employment practices when considering candidates with disabilities. Therefore, it is the agency, service, or business which is responsible for payment for interpreting services.

Isn't it expensive to provide interpreting services?

Interpreting services should be budgeted as part of your annual planning for accessibility services. 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 access is quite reasonable.

Why do I have to have two interpreters for my assignment?

Interpreting is a very taxing activity, both mentally and physically. Research has shown that an interpreter's ability to mentally process the message and interpret it accurately diminishes drastically after approximately 20 minutes of interpreting. Additionally, the rate of repetitive motion injuries among sign language interpreters is very high. Therefore, when an assignment is over 1-2 hours, two interpreters will be scheduled; they will spell each other approximately every 20 minutes, to ensure that the message is interpreted accurately for the full length of your assignment.


Someone in my office knows sign language. Can I have that person interpret for us?

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, as well as knowing principles of accurate interpretation. Professional Sign Language Interpreters hold certification from national/state professional agencies and carry professional liability insurance. In the case of a ‘signer’ who may work in your facility, there is no guarantee of quality, accuracy, or confidentiality of information.

How do I know an interpreter is qualified?

There are national and state testing systems in place to evaluate an interpreter's skills. All Empire Interpreting Service interpreters (except apprentices) have passed the national examination administered by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) or the National Association of the Deaf, (NAD), which tests knowledge of culture, ethics, and interpreting skills. This is a very rigorous examination which guarantees a minimum level of competency. Additionally, all our interpreters are screened to determine their level of skills before being placed on assignments. Of course, no one interpreter can be qualified for every situation, so we have the responsibility to gather as much information about your assignment as possible to determine which interpreter(s) will best fit your needs.

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.

Any additional ?’s

Someone in my office knows sign language. Can I have that person interpret for us?

Please call the office, we would be happy to discuss any further questions/concerns.

Thank you for choosing Empire Interpreting Service™ to meet your communication needs.