Deaf Request Sign Language Interpreters

The Deaf perspective is a valuable one when going through the sign language interpreter selection process.  When Deaf request sign language interpreters, they know what they need and want in order to have a successful event outcome.  Sometimes requests are impossible to fill if the assignment is last minute and/or the interpreter they request is not available.  Whatever the situation, businesses should pay attention to when Deaf request sign language interpreters to best serve their clientele.

I am DeafDeaf Request Sign Language Interpreters

If you are Deaf, how do you make a request that will be heard by the business and/or agency?  Do you sometimes feel like your requests are ignored?  There are two general mindsets businesses have about hiring sign language interpreters.

  • All Interpreters are the same

Often businesses have never worked with a sign language interpreter or a Deaf/hard-of-hearing person.  It is important to encourage companies to hire a reputable sign language interpreting firm so they get educated guidance on the difference between qualified interpreters.  This type of firm will encourage the business to ask their Deaf clientele their preferences.

Since businesses do not know sign language, they are often under the misconception that it is just “English on the hands.”  Because ASL is a full language and there are also regional and other variances in the language, businesses should be made aware of the interpreter’s role.  They are cultural mediators and linguistic experts so that they can match each individual Deaf and hard-of-hearing person.

  • Money, money, money!

Unfortunately, even if a business is non-for-profit, they view contracts in terms of money.  Budgeting is a critical part of a business.  But at the same time, one must “spend money to make money.”  There is a delicate balance when budgeting for quality services.

When you make a request, you may suggest a preferred interpreting company and explain the reasons why it is important to have an interpreter.  Hopefully a business is aware of the ADA requirements for “effective communication.”   But if they are not, attached is an ADA requirements document you may share with them.  Once an interpreting firm is hired by the business, they should work with you for each interpreted event to be successful.

Reasonable Rejection of Request

Sometimes a business has to tell a Deaf client they are unable to fill their request for a specific interpreter or type of interpreter.  This may happen for a couple of reasons.

  • It was a late request.

If your request was made in less than 2 weeks, the interpreter you requested may not be available.  But you should still receive a sign language interpreter who is qualified for the event.

  • The interpreter does not have the appropriate certification or experience.

Depending on the type of appointment, an interpreter may be required to have a specific certification and/or experience to interpret.  For example, if it is a court hearing in Missouri, a sign language interpreter is required to have a Master level certification from MCDHH.  They must have a license from the Missouri Division of Professional Registration.  It is also highly recommended that they have experience with courtroom interpreting. Read about Skill Level Standards.


Businesses who want a long-term relationship with their Deaf and hard-of-hearing clientele should highly consider the requests made by them.  They know their language and culture better than anyone and will be able to give the best suggestions for how to have a successful interpreted event.

They may also request other accommodations such as closed captioning on videos, video phones in their work space or office, furniture placement conducive to maximum visual accessibility, and more. Read more about Deaf Space.


Additional Resources:


Missouri Division of Professional Registration

ADA Requirements regarding Effective Communication

DeafSpace (DSP)


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review