Hiring a Reputable Sign Language Interpreting Company

The day has come when you need a sign language interpreter, but you don’t know what to do.  Sign language interpreting may appear to be simple movements of the arms and body to communicate a message.  It is actually fairly complex and specialized.  Several things should be considered prior to hiring a reputable sign language interpreting company, and lowest cost should not be a determining factor.

Things to Consider in a Reputable Sign Language Interpreting Company

Look for a Firm that Specializes in Sign Language Interpreting Services

  1. What percentage of a sign language interpreting company specializes in providing sign language interpreting services?  Some firms have a primary business and only provide sign language interpreting as a secondary service.  This is sometimes common with foreign language interpreting companies.  Foreign language (spoken) and sign language interpreting (signed) are completely different as written about in Hiring a Sign Language Interpreting Company vs. Foreign Language Company.  Choosing a firm that specializes in sign language interpreting services will better ensure accuracy and satisfaction.  It is important to fulfill legal requirements under the ADA for equal access.  In the past, we have encountered a sign language interpreting company who provides accounting and also sign language interpreting services.  This must be a complicated business model.  Certification and license requirements may vary per state, and they periodically change.  If you hire a firm who specializes in sign language interpreting, they will ensure awareness of current laws and regulations.
  2. The interpreting community is fairly small.   A firm who specializes in sign language interpreting services is also better able to match an interpreter to a Deaf and hard of hearing consumer’s needs.  They can evaluate the skills of the individual sign language interpreters.
  3. Sign language interpreters are required to follow a Code of Professional Conduct.  A reputable sign language interpreting company is best able to verify an interpreter’s adherence to that code of ethics.  They follow best practices when ethics are broken.

    Consider the Size of the Firm

    It may be highly inconvenient to modify your schedule alone.  You may need to work around multiple schedules to meet the availability of a qualified, certified, licensed sign language interpreter.  A sign language interpreting company should have a medium to large staff to accommodate the needs of any customer.  For example, is there a large enough staff to cover an assignment if the original interpreter calls in sick last minute?  If you require several interpreters, can the firm accommodate your needs?  If the sign language company you choose is unable to accommodate you in time, you may need to modify your original request.  Worst case, you might be in violation of the ADA.

    They should be able consult you and educate you on what you need

    A reputable sign language interpreting company is generally knowledgeable of various types of business.  They will ask you several questions to determine how to best fit your needs and the needs of the sign language interpreter or team. This will ensure accurate appropriate services are provided.

    They should have appropriate documentation

    The firm should also hold the proper business insurance, manage the interpreter liability insurance, and maintain other contractor requirements such as flu shots or car insurance.

    Choose a Local Firm

    Many people do not realize that sign language dialects vary per city and community.  (See the attached video by Dr. Byron Bridges for regional variations on signs such as birthday, computer, and strawberry.)  Sign language interpretations can most accurately be provided by a local company.  Additionally, if a Deaf or hard of hearing employee or consumer recommends their local interpreter travel with them on business, please do your best to accommodate them.  Lastly, if you’re a local business, what a great way to “shop small” and give back to your community!  @ShopSmall


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MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review