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.
What is the role of the interpreter?
The interpreter's role is to facilitate communication between the parties involved. Certified interpreters are bound to comply with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Code of Professional Conduct. The Code of Professional Conduct is the ethical standard to which our profession must adhere. It explains the role of the interpreter, what they should do and what they should not do, so it is helpful that you become familiar with what professional ethics entail in order to utilize your interpreter effectively.
Code of Professional Conduct
"A code of professional conduct is a necessary component to any profession to maintain standards for the individuals within that profession to adhere. It brings about accountability, responsibility and trust to the individuals that the profession serves.
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), along with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), co-authored the ethical code of conduct for interpreters. Both organizations uphold high standards of professionalism and ethical conduct for interpreters. At the core of this code of conduct are the seven tenets, which are followed by guiding principles and illustrations.
The tenets are to be viewed holistically and as a guide to complete professional behavior. When in doubt, one should refer to the explicit language of the tenet." RID.org
• Interpreters adhere to standards of confidential communication.
• Interpreters possess the professional skills and knowledge required for the specific interpreting situation.
• Interpreters conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the specific interpreting situation.
• Interpreters demonstrate respect for consumers.
• Interpreters demonstrate respect for colleagues, interns, and students of the profession.
• Interpreters maintain ethical business practices.
• Interpreters engage in professional development.
What does it mean to have 'True Access' versus 'Perceived Access'?
True access refers to having qualified/certified interpreters providing full access for deaf and hard of hearing persons to their environment. These interpreters have the skillsets necessary to provide access, for deaf and hard of hearing persons, which is more equal to the access of the hearing persons in the same environment. Often, when there is a person who signs taking on the role of an interpreter, those who do not know ASL or any form of sign language, see that person moving their hands and believe that access is being provided. This is perceived access. Example: Nelson Mandela's Memorial Service. Hearing people, with no knowledge of sign language, saw that 'interpreter' and believed that equal access was being provided to the deaf and hard of hearing communities around the world. Perceived access. Not until those with knowledge of sign language spoke up was it realized that True Access was not happening, at all.
How do I know an interpreter is qualified?
There are national and state testing systems in place to evaluate an interpreter's skills. National Certification tests are administered by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) or the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and test knowledge of culture, ethics, and interpreting skills. To ensure high quality services, you may request to see credentials prior to booking.
Who is required to pay for an interpreter?
While we cannot provide legal advice, we can say that generally, the hospital, school system, clinic, employer, private physician, therapist or other service provider is responsible for obtaining and paying for the 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. Therefore, it is the agency, service, or business which is responsible for payment for interpreting services. The National Association of the Deaf has a wonderful site that is very user friendly and explains the requirements of a variety of entities responsible for providing and paying for interpreting services. Please refer to for more information. If you would like, you can also refer to page for results of recent mediations regarding accommodations and who is responsible to provide and pay for interpreters at
Are hospitals required to provide interpreters for Deaf or hard of hearing patients, family members or visitors?
The simple answer is yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) does state that hospitals, emergency rooms, outpatient centers, clinics and other healthcare settings must provide effective means of communication for patients, their family members, and visitors who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
For more details, please refer to the US Department of Justice's ADA Business Brief at
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. Another reason for a second interpreter is that of the need for a Deaf Interpreter (DI) or Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI). In some cases, a DI or CDI will accompany the hearing interpreter to assist in facilitating the communication needs of the client. This has been proven to be an extremely effective and more widely recognized asset to our ability to bridge communication.
Can businesses offset the costs for providing accommodations?
Yes, they can! There is a great way to recoup the costs for providing interpreters and transcribers. After all, why should your organization be penalized for doing the right thing? They shouldn't be and there is a good chance that the IRS has the solution. Many businesses may not be aware of this but the IRS has methods to help you and encourage you to provide access to your service for people with disabilities.
While it can seem like a rather unexpected expense to some organizations initially, there is a great deal of support already in place that could help you take advantage of special incentives to provide these important and necessary accommodations. You may already be eligible for thousands of dollars in tax credits and deductions that businesses can use every year to defray the cost for providing interpreters, transcribers, and other crucial accommodations. It's important that you consult with your tax advisor each year regarding ADA compliance improvements and reasonable accommodations that you have provided to make sure you are not missing out on this fantastic opportunity. The federal government understands the importance of providing equal access to your organization for everyone. Like you, we understand the importance of complying with the ADA . With thousands of dollars in savings at stake, this is worth investigating for your company.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers two ways for businesses to offset the costs incurred when hiring interpreters or providing other ADA improvements at
Disclosure: We are an interpreting service provider. We are not qualified or licensed accountants, attorneys, health professionals or therapists. We are not intending to nor are we qualified to advise or provide any counsel regarding legal rights, taxes or accessibility issues. These FAQ's in no way represent legal, financial, civil rights, or tax advice and are merely a general guide provided for informational purposes only.