Requirements for Sign Language Interpreters

Can you use anyone who knows sign language to interpret?

Unfortunately, you cannot use just anyone to provide sign language interpreting services.  Missouri & Illinois Laws requirements for sign language interpreters are that they be certified and licensed.  Sign language interpreting is very technical, and those who know sign language may not necessarily be fluent enough or may not know how to interpret properly.  Professional testing is the only way to ensure the skills of the sign language interpreter are appropriate for professional interpreting.  If the sign language interpreter is not certified and licensed in the state then they are not qualified to work in the state.  It would be similar to going to a doctor’s appointment with a doctor who isn’t licensed.  The average person is not qualified to assess a physician’s skills just the same as the average person is not able assess the skills of a sign language interpreter.  If you use a reputable sign language interpreting firm, like MT&A, they are able to select appropriate sign language interpreters for your needs.

What about a family member?Requirements for Sign Language Interpreters

Family members may be certified and licensed sign language interpreters. Since they are a family member, however, they may also
violate the right to client privacy and/or HIPAA.  For this reason, the family member who is a certified licensed sign language interpreter may forfeit the Deaf consumer’s right to equal access to sign language interpreting services.

Code of Professional Conduct

Also, it is against the sign language interpreter Code of Professional Conduct to interpreter for a family member. This is because family members have an emotional connection, inhibiting their ability to be neutral.  Sign language interpreters who are family members should never be forced to provide interpreting services to a family member at the detriment of being penalized for doing so.  When a Deaf consumer requests a sign language interpreter contacted a reputable qualified sign language interpreting firm, like MT&A, who can educate you on the appropriate services for your unique requirement.

This article regarding the use requirements of sign language interpreters in healthcare settings is a great resource because it is very concise and provides examples.  These standard practices can be applied and/or modified to meet the many of genres in which sign language interpreters provide services.


Additional Resources:

RID Code of Professional Conduct


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review