Frequently Asked Question

What Is The ADA?

In summary, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was signed into law in July of 1990 in order to make American society more accessible to people with disabilities. This law is divided into five categories: Employment, Public Service, Public Accommodations, Telecommunications and Miscellaneous.

The ADA states that "reasonable accommodation" must be made for persons with disabilities. For Deaf and hard of hearing individuals, this means access to various services through the use of sign language interpreters, closed captioning and so on.

To obtain answers to general and technical questions about your responsibilities or rights under the ADA, you can call the ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (Voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

What Is A Professional Sign Language Interpreter?

A professional sign language interpreter is an individual who is fluent in both a spoken language and sign language. For GIS interpreters, those languages are English and American Sign Language (ASL). The interpreter's role, according to the Code of Professional Conduct, is to facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing individuals by conveying the intended content, tone and spirit of the message. The interpreter must remain neutral at all times and must keep all assignment information strictly confidential.

How Do I Work With An Interpreter?

GIS recognizes that working with interpreters and interpreting agencies is a new experience for many people. To familiarize you with what to expect and how to work with interpreters, we have compiled the following list:

  • When an interpreter(s) arrives on site, he/she will seek out the contact person and the client(s) to get any instructions and to determine the communication needs.
  • It is helpful for the interpreter to be shown the room arrangements prior to the event so that optimal visual communication can occur. Be sure to ask for the interpreter's input on the best location for the interpreter.
  • When using an interpreter, speak directly with the Deaf person (not to the interpreter). Speak at a normal pace. If your speech is rapid, the interpreter may ask you to repeat or to slow your pace to make sure that all your comments are being conveyed completely.
  • Make sure that the interpreter has copies of all materials that will be used during the presentation or meeting (in advance, if at all possible).
  • Understand that the interpreter will interpret all communication that occurs.
  • Make sure that the line of sight between the interpreter and the client is unblocked and that traffic in front of the interpreter is kept to a minimum.
  • Interpreting is physically demanding and interpreters may require occasional breaks. Assignments of an hour or more in length that are technical, non-stop or high profile may require a team of interpreters.

How Much Advance Notice Is Required?

Because interpreters often book their schedules several weeks in advance, advance notice is appreciated, helps to ensure our ability to provide service, and is cost effective for you. GIS realizes that emergencies do happen and we are happy to assist with last minute assignments whenever possible.

Why Do I Need Two Interpreters?

To protect our interpreters from repetitive motion injuries and to provide optimum service, one-hour assignments that are highly technical or high profile and/or assignments over 1.5 hours in length typically requires a team of interpreters. GIS is happy to discuss the specifics of your assignment with you to best determine the number of interpreters needed.

What Information Do I Need To Provide When Making A Request?

The more detailed information you provide (the names of the people involved, the topic, the format, any special vocabulary, etc.), the better the interpreter will be able to provide quality service. The following information is needed when requesting service from GIS:

  • Your name and telephone number
  • Your company's name and billing address & payment method
  • The assignment address, on-site contact person and telephone number
  • Name and communication needs of the consumer(s) (if known)
  • Interpreter's name (if you wish to request someone specific)
  • Name of contact person to obtain further information if needed
  • Detailed information about the assignment, for example:

One-on-one or group?
If a group, how many participants?

Does the interpreter need to be on stage?
Will there be speeches?
How many speakers?
Will there be a panel discussion?
Will there be Q & A?

What will be the format?
Are there break-out sessions and, if so, how many?

Training and/or Workshops:
Will it be in lecture format?
Will it be hands-on learning?
Is it extremely technical?

Will the event be videotaped?
For what purpose?

GIS also provides close-vision or tactile interpreting services to Deaf/Blind clients. If you need this service, please be sure to indicate this on the Request Form.

Will I Be Billed For Service If I Cancel The Assignment?

Most agencies, including GIS, have policies in place regarding sufficient notice of a cancellation. GIS must receive at least two full business day' notice to cancel at no cost. Cancellations received with less notice are payable in full. In some instances, for example classroom interpreting where consistency of interpreters is required, GIS must receive more than 48 business hours' notice. Please contact GIS for detailed information. All cancellations must be received in writing.

Are GIS Interpreters Certified?

Currently, all staff interpreters are certified or in the process of becoming certified. GIS screens all interpreters, both staff and freelance, to ensure they possess the high-level of professionalism and skill-level required by GIS. This screening, also helps our interpreters with selection of assignments appropriate to their skill level and ensures quality service for you.

Do You Have Any Information On How To Become An Interpreter?

As a courtesy and to get you started, you might find the following websites helpful. Other than Gallaudet University sites, inclusion on this list does not indicate GIS' endorsement or affiliation.

Gallaudet University
800 Florida Avenue N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 651-5000
Department of Interpretation

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.
333 Commerce Street
Alexandria VA 22314
(703) 838-0030 (Voice)
(703) 838-0459 (TTY)
(703) 838-0454 (FAX)

Find An Interpreter Training Program In Your State

I Am Interested In Learning Sign Language. Are There Any Websites or Books That Might Be Helpful?

Other than Gallaudet University sites, inclusion on this list does not indicate GIS' endorsement or affiliation.

Gallaudet University Press
Center for Continuing Studies

Do You Have A List Of Deaf-Related Organizations?

As a courtesy, the following list is being provided. Other than Gallaudet University sites, inclusion on this list does not indicate GIS' endorsement or affiliation with any organizations listed below:

Gallaudet University
800 Florida Avenue N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 651-5000 (voice/tty)

American Association of Deaf-Blind (AADB)
814 Thayer Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 588-6545 (voice/tty)

3521 12th Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20017
(202) 832-6681 (voice/tty)

Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults
6801 Kenilworth Avenue #100
Riverdale, MD 20737
(301) 699-8490 (voice/tty)

National Alliance of Black Interpreters (NAOBI)
P.O. Box 70322
New Orleans, LA 70172

National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
814 Thayer Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 587-1788 (voice/tty)

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID)
333 Commerce Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 838-0030 (voice)
(703) 838-0459 (TTY)
(703) 838-0454 (FAX)

Hearing Loss Association of America
[Previously known as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH)]
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 657-2248 (voice)
(301) 657-2249 (tty)

Is My Doctor Required To Provide Me With An Interpreter For My Medical Visits?

Yes. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has more information which might be helpful.

As A Health Care Provider, What Are My Obligations Under The ADA?

As a health care provider, you have certain responsibilities which must be met under the ADA. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Health Care Providers which will help you understand these obligations, what auxiliary aids are, whether there are tax credits given for the costs of providing auxiliary aids and services, and so on.

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