Sign Language Interpreting Services

Written by Linda Alexander
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Sign language interpreting services exist to help deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate clearly with those who can hear. If you have an important event coming up that you need to make accessible to deaf people, you will need to locate a translator. Here are some ideas on how to find an interpreting service.

Locating Sign Language Interpreting Services

First, contact your state resources, such as the department of health and human services. They give referrals to sign language interpreting services. Another place to try would be any organization that serves deaf or hard of hearing people. Your yellow pages can help you out here.

Colleges with interpreting training programs sometimes offer sign language interpreting services. Or, you can find any language translation service--American Sign Language may be one that they interpret. There is always the Internet, where you can look for a local translator to help you.

Most services need about two weeks' time to schedule an interpreter. There are services that work on demand 24 hours a day and seven days a week, but they will cost more. It's best if you allow ample lead time for sign language interpreting services, so they can find the appropriately skilled translator for your assignment.

Special Accommodations for Sign Language Interpreting Services

If your program involves the use of audio/visual equipment, you may need special accommodations, such as a spotlight in the dark so deaf people in the audience can see the person signing. Be aware of this when you choose a service and inform them of your needs. It also helps to send written material to the translator ahead of time so he or she can become familiar with it before the event.

When scheduling an appointment with interpreters, it is helpful to discuss the details of the assignment such as the date, time, and length of the assignment. You should also give them the location, and let them know if there will be any technical material involved in the translation. Also inform them if the assignment involves a sensitive issue, such as an appointment with a mental health counselor.

Billing Policies

Remember to discuss billing policies with the sign language interpreting services you choose. Many require a minimum of two hours' pay. You should also talk about rates and travel time or expenses. Also, if your program is long, you may need to schedule multiple translators.

Locating available sign language interpreting services for your event might take time and certainly takes patience. Keep calling around until you find the right service. If you put the time into it, you might locate a service you will want to use over and over again in the future.


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