How to Hire an Interpreter
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states, "When an interpreter is required, the public accommodation should provide a qualified interpreter, that is, an interpreter who is able to sign to the individual who is deaf what is being said by the hearing person and who can voice to the hearing person what is being signed by the individual who is deaf. This communication must be conveyed effectively, accurately, and impartially, through the use of any necessary specialized vocabulary."
Being able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially, both receptively and expressively determines whether one is qualified, not whether he or she is certified by an official licensing body. An individual does not have to be certified in order to meet this standard. A certified interpreter may not meet this standard in all situations, e.g., where the interpreter is not familiar with the specialized vocabulary involved in the communication at issue. Equally important, being able to sign does not mean that a person can process spoken communication into proper signs, nor does it mean that he or she possesses the proper skills to observe someone signing and change their signed or fingerspelled communication into spoken words. Signing and interpreting are not the same thing. A qualified interpreter must be able to interpret both receptively and expressively.
The most effective means of locating a qualified interpreter in any area is to contact the National Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf (RID). This organization certifies sign language interpreters for a national certification. All states have an affiliated state organization, and within many states there are local chapters, as well. By contacting the home office of the RID, the name of a statewide contact person can be obtained. Contact this individual for assistance in locating qualified interpreters in your area.
The National Association of the Deaf also provides assistance in assessing and locating qualified interpreters. Their assessment of an interpreter’s skill is another avenue in ensuring that qualified interpreters are available. (Both the RID and NAD addresses follow).
Many states, including North Carolina have a classification system for classifying interpreters. This is not the same thing as certification from RID. What this means is that a state organization has assessed and awarded a specific classification based on the interpreter’s level of proficiency. The standards are dissimilar between the RID National Assessment and the state assessment systems.
To contact the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf:
8630 Senton Street-Suite #324
Silver Springs, Maryland 20910
To contact the National Association of the Deaf:
814 Thayer Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4500
(301) 587-1788 Voice
(301) 587-1789 TTY
(301) 587-1791 FAX