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Hiring an Interpreter: Things to Consider

Interpreter Qualifications

To obtain a qualified interpreter, request their national certification (NAD, RID CI/CT, CSC) and/or at a minimum their quality assurance state screening (QAST) level. The profession maintains a code of professional conduct, which includes:

  • confidentiality of assignments,
  • conveying the message faithfully,
  • not interjecting personal opinions or interfering with the communication process in any way on a personal level.

Helpful Hints for the Hearing Consumer

  • Speak directly to the person who is deaf or hard of hearing. Use first person speech. Say “How are you?” not “Ask him how he is”.
  • Don’t use the interpreter as a mediator or expect the interpreter to mediate in any way.
  • Avoid private conversations with the interpreter or others in the presence of deaf persons; everything you say will be interpreted.
  • Speak naturally at a reasonable pace. The interpreter will let you know if you need to speak slower. Also, be aware that the interpreter will lag behind you a few words, in order to hear a complete thought before signing it.
  • The interpreter should not be placed in the shadows or in front of a window or light glare.
  • Interpreting is both mentally and physically tiring and it will benefit both parties to have time allowed for a brief break in ongoing situations. Without adequate ‘down’ time, the interpreter could develop a Cumulative Trauma Disorder, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Also, receiving information visually can be tiring and cause eye fatigue for the deaf person.
  • The interpreter will usually stand or sit near the speaker. The deaf person then has the option of viewing both the hearing speaker and the interpreter.
  • Reimburse interpreters in a professional manner. Negotiate fees and occasional expenses with the interpreter/agency prior to the assignment.


Legal Situations

Arkansas Act 555 states “every person who…because of hearing…impairment has difficulty in communication…shall be entitled to an interpreter to assist such persons throughout the legal proceedings…” Act 664 discusses qualifications of interpreters. Legal professionals are mandated not to allow the fact of deafness prevent an individual from securing his/her full rights under the law.

Educational Situations

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing face unique challenges in the classroom. While the rest of the class has easy access to the spoken word, the student who is deaf or hard of hearing does not, and will usually require accommodations. Some of the more common accommodations for a student who is deaf or hard of hearing include: sign language interpreter, assistive listening device, captioned videos, speech to print transcription or real-time captioning, and a notetaker.

Medical Situations

Section 84.52 of Rehabilitation Act Section 504 of 1973 requires that the recipient health care providers be prepared to draw upon a full range of communication options in order to insure that persons who are hearing impaired are provided effective access to health care services which must be provided at no cost to the individual who is hearing impaired.

Employment Situations

Provide an appropriate setting regarding lighting and seating. In a one-to-one situation the interpreter will sit close to the hearing speaker to allow the deaf individual to view both the interpreter and the speaker. Refrain from carrying on telephone conversations. Always speak directly to the person who is deaf, using eye contact and do not use the interpreter as a mediator or go-between.