How To Choose A Sign Language Interpretation Provider

Young Black man signing ok to a another man signing help

The need for American Sign Language interpreters is on the rise as organizations spanning from corporations to nonprofits to schools recognize the need to integrate Deaf individuals into the fabric of our communities, with the same access as their hearing counterparts. With many providers offering sign language interpretation, how can you find one that is reliable and offers the qualifications that meet your needs?

It's important to learn how the provider screens their sign language interpreters. Do they require an interview that evaluates the interpreter’s sign language fluency and interpreting skills in several scenarios? The provider should know the skill-level of each interpreter on their roster - and only offer contracts to those who can provide excellent services. After all, doesn’t
the Deaf community deserve our very best?

Many other factors should be considered, as well. Providers who can be trusted to offer excellent sign language interpretation services should:

  • Offer services across the spectrum of signed language from American Sign Language (ASL) to Pidgin Signed English (PSE) or Signing Exact English (SEE) interpreters, including trilingual and Deaf interpreters.
  • Provide interpreters who are familiar with different modalities including close vision, tactile, ProTactile, and Haptic communication, all common in the DeafBlind community.
  • Tailor the interpreter to the individual needing our services - weighing the person’s preference, language needs, setting, vocabulary, and location for each assignment. This is particularly important when interpreting for an individual with a mental health illness, to ensure comfortability when receiving services.  
  • Conduct background checks for every interpreter and provide their resume and certifications at your request.
  • Be capable of providing oral transliteration, also known as voice-over, for the Hard-of-Hearing.
  • Have interpreters on their roster with a wide variety of experience, such as interpreting for legal services, in medical settings, or in schools, along with certifications that are essential for those specific settings.
  • Ensure their interpreters adhere to the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct, for accountability, responsibility, trust, and professionalism.
  • Have a seamless scheduling process that also ensures confidentiality.

Sign language providers should also have interpreters on their roster and team members on their staff who are Deaf. After all, who can better understand the challenges a person faces than one who has the same challenges? This gives the providing agency particular sensitivity and problem-solving skills, acting as an advocate for the Deaf community. It also gives the provider insight when it comes to offering guidance to a contractor about which services are best for a particular situation, such as in-person interpretation vs. video remote interpreting (VRI).

Finding the best sign language interpretation provider is an important task, but one that is manageable when asking the right questions. And by focusing on the people providing interpretation services, including their standards and processes, along with their ties to the Deaf community, you will be sure to find a provider who will provide services ethically and professionally.


Rachel Simons is the RFP and Proposal Administrator for ASLI, Inc., ... meaning she reads hundreds of requests from businesses, schools, and corporations who sometimes may not know exactly what they need or the specific terminology. ASLI is a language service company under the New Language Capital umbrella, which has provided sign language interpretation for more than 30 years.

Reliable. Ethical. Just Plain Nice. is not just a motto – it’s the hallmark for all we do.




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