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Booking a Sign Language Interpreter

Blue background with white illustration of hands signing interpreter and arrow movement. Below center is SV logo.

So, you would like to hire an interpreter? Great! Here are tips on how to successfully book a sign language interpreter.

We recommend that you hire Interpreters that are active members of the Canadian Association of Sign Language Interpreters (CASLI), who are committed to a professional, and ethical practice as stated by the CASLI Code of Ethics. It can be found here:.

Sign language interpreters can be hired by one of these three methods:

  • Private contract – the terms of the assignment are negotiated directly between the person paying for interpreting services and the interpreter(s). Payment is made directly to the interpreter(s).
    Your client may have a preferred interpreter to work with, and will give you an interpreter contact directly.
  • Agency contract – the terms of the assignment are based on an agency’s standards and rates. The agency will plan to have an interpreter(s) at the assignment. Payment is made to the agency.
    Either ask client their preferred agency or seek online in your area.
  • Staffing agreement – some locations have interpreters on staff to cover varied assignments.

Whatever business transaction you are using to secure an interpreter, please remember that this is a business transaction. Like any business transaction, there are a number of factors and terms that need to be discussed and negotiated. 

Please note that some assignments may require more than one interpreter. If an assignment is over two hours in length or the subject matter is very complex, then two or more interpreters may be required. This will help to maintain the accuracy of the interpretation in both languages for the duration of the assignment. Please refer to the interpreter’s expertise and experience on this.

Oftentimes a deaf interpreter is requested. A deaf interpreter (DI) is an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing and possess excellent communication skills in both American Sign Language and English. The DI has been trained in the role and ethics of an interpreter, and may also have specialized training and/or experience in use of gesture, mime, props, drawings, home signs, and matching sentence structure and language development of the deaf person for whom they are interpreting. In addition, the DI has an extensive knowledge and understanding of deafness, the deaf community, and/or Deaf culture. They bring this expertise with them when working as a team with a hearing sign language interpreter.

Its in your best interest to provide advance notice, 2-3 weeks is the preferred minimum, but the interpreter may be able to accommodate less in unique situations.

If the Sign Language interpreter deems themselves to be accurately represented and qualified, the following terms will need to be confirmed:

  • Date, time, and location of the appointment
  • Name of Deaf person(s) – If possible and confidentiality is not an issue.
  • Fees
  • Payment for time preparing for the appointment/travel expenses/travel time.
  • Cancellation policy

FYI: You may have tax benefits/credits/deductions available for accessibility related expenses.

Booking/Hiring Checklist

When contacting interpreters, it is important to provide the date, time, duration, and location of the appointment. However, it is important to keep the names of participants confidential until the interpreter has confirmed that they are available to work. Once they do, then particulars can be discussed before confirming services. Be advised to check with participants their preference of an interpreter prior booking. Following these guidelines will ensure a smooth procedure for all involved.

Before booking/hiring an interpreter, it is helpful to know the answers to the following questions first:

Have you ever worked with interpreters before? Yes or No

Organization name and type:
Nature of the event/appointment: (Job Interview, Medical, etc…)
Length of event/appointment:
Website or event web address: 
Preference of interpreter: (always ask your clients preference for an interpreter)

Please give us a brief description of the actual event that needs to be interpreted.

What will be the style of interaction (job interview, lecture, 1 to 1 discussion, training, etc)? 

Does the setting have a specific language or jargon that may be challenging to a newcomer to the situation (acronyms, sensitivities)?

Are you able to provide the interpreter with any material related to the assignment in advance? (PowerPoints, speech notes, etc….) 

Additional Resources

Deaf Interpreter (American resource)