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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Below are some of the frequently asked questions we receive from prospective customers and interpreters.

Why do I need to hire an interpreter?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 mandates that a comprehensive variety of public and private services as well as employers must be accessible to all people, regardless of disability. When dealing with people who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing, this means that communication must be accessible. In many cases, the best way to ensure this is to have an interpreter.

When do I need to use an interpreter?

An interpreter may be used any time communication is occurring between people who do not share the same language. Deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing people may not have access to information if it is presented in English, either verbally or in writing. Some simple communications (for example, between a deaf customer and a clerk in a store) can be done through written notes or gestures, but any time important content is being communicated, having an interpreter present safeguards the participants by ensuring that information is accessible to both parties.

Who is required to pay for an interpreter?

The ADA states that all public and private agencies that provide services to the general public, and all employers with 15 or more employees, must be accessible. This means that, if your agency, service, or business is accessible to people without disabilities, it must be accessible to people with disabilities. Additionally, companies with 15 or more employees must follow fair hiring and employment practices when considering candidates with disabilities. (However, some states supercede the ADA. For example, the ADA is superceded in Washington State by RCW, which covers employers with 8 or more employees.) Therefore, it is the agency, service, or business which is responsible for payment for interpreting services.


Isn't it expensive to provide interpreting services?

Interpreting services should be budgeted as part of your annual planning for accessibility services. It is true that, on a per-encounter basis, you may pay more for interpreting services than you generate in revenue for your company. However, if you consider the cost over the course of a year as an overhead cost of doing business, providing accessible services is quite reasonable.

I notice that on your Job Request Form, under "Language Preferences" it lists PSE and SEE.  What are they?

People are usually familiar with ASL, but there are variations such as “PSE”, Pidgin Signed English and “SEE”, Signed Exact English.


  • ASL or American Sign Language is more of a conceptual sign language and there is usually not a 1-1 mapping of a sign to an English word.


  • In SEE or Signed Exact English, there is a sign for every single word as well as the definitions for the word (ex. run).  Tense, prefixes and suffixes of the word are also signed.  This is typically used in an educational environment where the theory is that it helps Deaf children to learn English.


  • With PSE or Pidgin Signed English, you may have some ASL, some SEE in English word order and some SEE signs out of order or a mixture.


When a HIS Sign interpreter arrives for an assignment they will initially discuss the language preferences with the Deaf consumer so that they can present (sign) in the manner that is desired.  We ask this on the Job Form as it helps us when determining which interpreter to send on an assignment.  Our goal is to provide you, the customer and the Deaf Consumers, with the best services possible and this assists in that goal!

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