HIS Sign Quality

What began as a way for one interpreter to provide services has become a full blown agency  providing 1000’s of hours of services and utilizing 100’s of interpreters!

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Our Story

Customer FAQ's

About Us

Quality People Doing Quality Work

Based in Northern Virginia, the HIS Sign team is made up of Interpreting professionals, Teaching professionals and Business professionals.  We have a good blend of experience that has allowed HIS Sign to grow into a premier agency providing services to area schools (K-12 to post-secondary), private businesses, hospitals, outpatient medical facilities, government agencies, and much more in the Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. areas.

Since our birth in 2009, we’ve strived to create strong relationships and partnerships with members of the Deaf community, the freelance interpreters that provide services through our agency and our customers.  We currently have sub-contracting relationships with other area interpreting agencies so that we can make sure interpreting requests are always covered.  We feel that these partnerships make us stronger and more able to meet the needs of the Deaf community.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, HIS Sign, LLC, does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.

We look forward to getting to know you better!

The Team at HIS Sign

Our Story

New Beginnings – How HIS Sign Began

We love telling our story! There are two versions, the short version (Christina’s) and the “loooonnnggg” version (Brian’s); however, we are going to tell you the long story so that you know all about how we started!

When Christina was in the fifth grade, her mother bought her a sign language dictionary by Cathy Rice. Shortly after receiving the book and practicing the alphabet over and over again, she saw someone signing at a restaurant and tried to communicate with them. This was the beginning of her journey.

While Brian was growing up in the small town of Ipswich, South Dakota, he took the mandatory hearing exams every year and he always did well on them because he and three other classmates took the test at the same time, raising their hands when they heard the sounds. He did well, because he saw the others’ hands raised, so he figured he must have also heard the sounds. During the spring of his senior year in High School, they brought a trailer to the school that had a soundproof booth, and gave all of the students a hearing test. The next day, Brian was called into the principal’s office. When he arrived and saw his parents, he figured he was in big trouble. It was there that he and his parents learned that Brian had a 50% hearing loss. Subsequently, it was recommended that he be fitted with hearing aids. He received his first hearing aid three days before he left for college. This was the beginning of his journey!

Winding the clock forward to November 1989, Christina and Brian were in Omaha, Nebraska. On November 11th, Brian was laid off from his job and the soon-to-be-married couple sat down to discuss what their next steps were going to be. Christina mentioned the ASL class she had taken her final year at Penn State and that, at some point, she would like to teach deaf children. (Little did they realize the impact this statement would have on their lives!) Due to the nature of work Brian was in, they had their pick of where they would like to live, so they decided that he should accept a job with Visa (yes, the credit card company) in Northern California, partially because of the large deaf community in that area.

After moving to California, Christina started learning from a sign language dictionary as they drove around the San Francisco Bay area on weekends. She then started to take sign language and interpreting classes, which lead to becoming friends with one of the professors. She eventually began working full-time as an interpreter in one of the local school systems and started her Master’s in Deaf Education at San Francisco State University. Through her job, she and Brian made friends with the parents of the students and they both got involved in the Deaf community.

In May of 1998, Brian, Christina, their three year old son, Matthew, and their one year old daughter, Mikayla, moved to Virginia, transferring to the East Coast with Brian’s company. After a few months of Christina staying at home, Christina and Brian decided to “team parent” so that Christina could work part-time in the local public school system. Over time, Christina began to also do freelance interpreting in the community and to meet the local deaf community, other interpreters, and Deaf families.

It is worthy of note to mention that in 2004, Christina and Brian sat down with a some friends to discuss opening an interpreting agency but, unfortunately, everyone agreed that it was not the right time.

After working for Visa for almost 20 years, Brian was laid off on April 7, 2009. This big change was actually something they had actually prayed would happen, because Brian was interested in starting a Christian multimedia collaborative website.  Over the next 14 months he pursued this new venture.

Later in 2009, Christina discovered that in order to work in the Prince William County Public Schools, she would have to officially become a business and be insured, so Christina and Brian sat down to talk about a name to be used. They discussed “Hammrich Interpreting Services,” but figured that people would call it “HIS” which they felt would be confused with a number of the other agencies out there with a similar acronym. Eventually, they agreed on “HIS Sign.” The new company became a recognized Limited Liability Company on December 18, 2009. They had no idea at the time that six months later they would actually start a full-fledged agency.

On June 24, 2010, Christina was on an assignment with one of her mentees, Laura ‘Liz’ Macier. Fortunately for all of us, the assignment ended up being cancelled, giving Christina and Liz an opportunity to chat. It is during this conversation that Christina shared with Liz how friends and family had been encouraging her to start an agency, but quickly added that that there was “no way” she would ever do such a thing. Liz replied, “I will help you.” At that moment, for the first time in her life, Christina felt at peace about the idea and responded, “Okay!” After they parted, Christina went home and reviewed the conversation (and the decision) with Brian.  The rest, as they say, is history!

Since that fateful day in June 2010, HIS Sign has moved forward as an agency, remaining true to the core values that Christina and Brian have always believed in and have made their motto:

Committed to Following the Golden Rule and Serving with Integrity and Dedication!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our story. We look back on how we started and are amazed at what has transpired over such a short time period and we are so blessed by the responsibility of running this agency. We hope you will take the time to get to know the HIS Sign family better!

Our Team

Quality People Doing Quality Work

Based in Northern Virginia, the HIS Sign team is made up of Interpreting professionals, Teaching professionals and Business professionals.  We have a good blend of experience that has allowed HIS Sign to grow into a premier agency providing services to area schools (K-12 to post-secondary), private businesses, hospitals, outpatient medical facilities, government agencies, and much more in the Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. areas.

Since our birth in 2009, we’ve strived to create strong relationships and partnerships with members of the Deaf community, the freelance interpreters that provide services through our agency and our customers.  We currently have sub-contracting relationships with other area interpreting agencies so that we can make sure interpreting requests are always covered.  We feel that these partnerships make us stronger and more able to meet the needs of the Deaf community.

To learn more about us, click on one of our photos below.

We look forward to getting to know you better!

The Team at HIS Sign

Christina Hammrich
President/Owner

Christina became interested in American Sign Language at a young age when her father would take her sailing to Martha’s Vineyard, a Deaf utopia off the coast of Massachusetts which was instrumental in the development of American Sign Language (https://www.verywellhealth.com/deaf-history-marthas-vineyard-1046546).  In 5th grade her mom gave her a sign language dictionary that she used to teach herself ASL.  She attended Penn State University (where she roomed with Ilene Breneman, her best friend since 6th grade and later her matron of honor and now HIS Sign HR Manager), receiving a BS in Marketing.  It was at State College where she took her first sign language class which began a lifetime passion turned profession. 

Upon graduation and after meeting Brian (husband and now CEO of HIS Sign), she continued taking sign language and interpreting classes. In June of 2010, after 20 years of freelancing, Christina and Brian started HIS Sign, a sign language interpreting agency based in Northern Virginia.  While Brian ran the office, Christina was out in the field providing interpreting services, building HIS Sign’s customer base and growing the interpreter pool.If Christina is not working, she most definitely is not at home. She has successfully been able to pair her love of interpreting with her love for traveling, interpreting in such places as Canada, the Caribbean, China and Iceland. Her other passions include eating at fine dining establishments, SCUBA diving and catching Broadway shows in New York City with her daughter or at the Hippodrome in Baltimore with her daughter-in-law. And her #1 favorite pastime is spending time with her granddaughter, Kate!
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Brian Hammrich
CEO
In 1988 he accepted a position with Applied Communications, Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1989 he accepted a position with Visa, in San Mateo, California and 9 years later transferred to their offices in Virginia where he worked for the next 10 years.In June of 2010, Brian joined his wife in launching HIS Sign, LLC as a full-fledged sign language interpreting agency. Brian’s responsibilities with HIS Sign include handling the company’s technical needs and acting as a backup scheduler. Brian met Christina while he was living in Phoenix, Arizona.  He moved to Omaha, Nebraska and together he and Christina moved to San Mateo, California where their children Matthew and Mikayla were born.  Brian loves driving on vacations with his family, Scuba diving, Videography and graphics editing, roller blading, hiking and all outdoor activities.
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Ilene Breneman
HR Manager

Ilene joined the HIS Sign team in 2011. She received a Marketing Degree from Shippensburg University in 1988. She spent 15 years with United Telephone/Sprint as an Account Manager selling voice and data products as well as a Sales/Product Trainer and Product Manager.

She has also served as a Director of Marketing in the advertising and television markets before joining HIS Sign. Ilene is active in her community, schools and church. She is involved in a mentoring program at a local school district, her church and community outreach programs.Ilene lives in Dover, PA with her husband. Her passions include spending time with her children and family, flying, volunteering and traveling.
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Jennifer IIgenfritz
Finance Manager
She is actively involved with her church and her hobbies include reading, gardening, boating, and spending time with her family and friends.
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Matt Peev
Account Executive
He has spent the majority of his nearly two decade career, honing his skills under the umbrella companies of MSCI in the Washington, D.C. Metro area and in London, England. Matt currently resides in Ashburn, VA with his wife and two sons. Despite his aging body, Matt plays sports in his free time and continues to share his love of travelling with his family.
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Michelle Wenck
Scheduling Manager

Michelle joined the HIS Sign team in December of 2018. She graduated from RIT/NTID with a bachelor’s in American Sign Language and Interpreter Education. After graduation, she worked as an educational interpreter in Maryland and freelanced in the DMV area for 5 years. During 2017 and 2018 Michelle’s family moved out to Colorado. While there she worked in the administrative field and did part-time VRS work.

Being the Scheduling Manager for HIS Sign allows her to combine her experience in the interpreting field with the skills she learned in Colorado. Michelle really enjoys being able to interact daily with the interpreters and customers and getting to know them as individuals. In her spare time, she likes to experiment in the kitchen, be outside, and spend time with her husband and dog.
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Keri Murphy
Speech-to-Text Manager

Keri joined the HIS Sign team as the Speech-to-Text Manager in December of 2019. She has spent her entire career in Operations and Customer Service Management roles for various companies. She also incorporated sales into some of these roles and found success in that as well. Throughout the years, Keri has won several customer service and sales awards and believes she was able to accomplish this because of her attentive listening skills and out of the box thinking.

Keri spent the last 13 ½ years working for another interpreting and speech-to-text agency as the Director of Operations and has a vast knowledge of TypeWell, CART, and Interpreting Services. She is looking forward to managing the Speech-to-Text department for HIS Sign. Keri lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and their dog. She enjoys spending time with her family and close friends and traveling to North Carolina to visit her parents. She has been volunteering at the local elementary school for the past 11 years and her hobbies include music, watching movies, dining out, shopping, and laughing with friends and family.
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Monica Lee
Assistant Scheduling Manager
Most weekends are spent on a baseball field, volleyball court or hockey field to watch her children live out their passion. Her hobbies include cooking, spending time with family and friends, shopping and watching Korean Drama.
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Holly Elicker
Scheduling Specialist
In addition to working at HIS Sign, she also teaches two-year-old children in a preschool at her church. She lives in Dover, PA with her husband and two grown daughters. She loves spending her time with family and friends as well as reading and shopping.
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Melanie Blue
Project Specialist
Melanie excels in organization, communication and customer service. Melanie is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and spends many hours each month volunteering in the Deaf community with her husband. Melanie enjoys cooking, traveling and spending time with her family.
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Chris Stein
Technical Support Specialist

Chris joined the HIS Sign team in 2016 as the Technical Support Specialist. Chris brings an extensive amount of knowledge from working for over 7 years in the IT field and thrives to continue learning new Technology.

Chris holds a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science and has a few certifications under his belt and is planning on adding more. Throughout his career he has supported small to large businesses with IT support and has provided top notch customer service to all of his clients. Chris grew up in Queens, NY and lived in Florida for 10 years. When Chris is not working he enjoys traveling with his wife, fine dining, playing basketball, listening to music and hanging out with friends and family.
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Kathleen Gregory
Registration Specialist

Kathleen joined the HIS Sign team in January 2020 as a Registration Specialist. She graduated with an Associate’s degree in Communications in 2016 and currently projects to graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. Kathleen has over ten years of customer care experience that ranges from retail to working as a US contractor in Australia.

Kathleen enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs. She hopes to one day open a rescue sanctuary for Great Danes. Kathleen was raised in a military family, so she gained a love of travel at a young age. As an adult, she and her husband are avid travelers, having visited many cities and countries around the world. Her other hobbies include learning about computers and social media, reading, volunteering within her community, and creative writing.
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Joshua Chung, NIC
Staff Interpreter

Joshua was born and raised by his Deaf parents in the Northern Virginia area. As a CODA (child of Deaf adults), Joshua was involved in the Deaf community growing up and realized his calling to be an interpreter during his sophomore year in college. Joshua graduated Magna Cum Laude with his American Sign Language & Interpreting degree from Liberty University in May of 2018.

Shortly after, he applied and was brought on as a contracted sign language interpreter with HIS Sign. After a year of performing interpreting services through HIS Sign, Joshua transitioned to a Business Intern position to work closely with the HIS Sign team. With the successful completion of his internship, Joshua became HIS Sign’s Staff Interpreter in August of 2019. Joshua has been interpreting for the past three years and currently holds the NIC, EIPA 4.3, and VQAS III/III. As he continues on with his interpreting career, Joshua hopes to experience all different types of ASL interpreting, further his education through a Master’s program, provide mentorship opportunities, and most importantly, continue to serve the Deaf community to the best of his ability. While Joshua is not interpreting, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three pets (2 cats and 1 dog), eating out, and watching Denver Broncos football on Sundays.
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Customer FAQ's

General FAQ

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

VRI FAQ

There are no setup costs associated with the activation of HIS Sign’s video interpreting services! (Compatibility Requirements)

Normal setup is scheduled over a period of 1-2 days and is dependent upon your availability to work with the HIS Sign Staff. (Compatibility Requirements)

Step #1: Install the HIS Sign VRI Application on your compatible device.

Step #2: Schedule to have your installation verified and tested with one of our staff.

Step #3: Begin using HIS Sign’s video interpreting services!

In a crunch, Expedited Application setup can be requested (See “Expedited Setup Fee” on Pricing Page). Utilizing this option, you can be up and working within an hour or two on a compatible device. (Compatibility Requirements)

Our VRI Application is currently supported on:

  • Microsoft OS (Windows 10, 8 and 7)
  •    Mac OS X 10.7 (Mountain Lion) or higher
  •    Mac iOS 8 or higher (iPad 3rd generation of iPad Mini 2nd generation)

Our VRI Application is currently supported on the following web browsers:

  • Google Chrome 31 (and higher)
  •    Internet Explorer 10 (and higher)
  •    Mozilla Firefox 25 (and higher)
  •    Apple Safari 6.2 (and higher)

Normal Business Hours for VRI are 8:00am – 10:00pm, Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays.

A Business Day is a 24 continuous hour period, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

On Demand Services are services that can be used in an unscheduled fashion, as they are needed.

Scheduled Services are services that are used at predetermined and agreed upon times. With HIS Sign pricing, they may qualify for reduced rates.

We invoice monthly with payments due 30 days from the invoice date. A 2% late fee is added for each 30 day increment past due.

There are no cancellation charges for On Demand Services. Cancellations less than two full Business Days before the beginning of a Scheduled Services assignment, when they qualify for reduced rates, are considered untimely and will be billed as if the services had been provided.

Yes, the platform used for the HIS Sign VRI Services meets or exceeds the HIPAA Compliancy requirements.

Yes, using the HIS Sign VRI Services meets or exceeds the ADA requirements.

There is not a simple answer to this question. We suggest you contact the ADA using this link.

Yes, HIS Sign utilizes a service that allows us to digitally sign the contract, simplifying the process of signing up to use our VRI Services.

CART FAQ

CART stands for Communication Access Real-time Translation.

The CART service is referred to as real-time captioning and results in the display of everything that is being said, word for word on a computer, television or projection screen.  The service may be provided by a “captioner” that is either on-site or off-site (remote).  A transcript can also be produced at the completion of services.

A individual, the “captioner”, uses a device (court reporting stenography machine or computer with real-time captioning software) with an internet connection and types in everything that is said.  The word for word text is then displayed on a computer, television or projection screen.

The “captioner” is not actually typing each word, the phonetic origin of a word is used instead of the actual spelling, which allows the “captioner” to type up to 260 words per minute with 98% accuracy and above.

The “captioner” uses an internet connection to hear and to project what is said at the service location.

To receive remote CART services you will need the following:

  • A computer with an internet connection (A high-speed internet connection is not required but is helpful) at the service location.
  • Compatible remote captioning software (provided free of charge).
  • A high quality microphone for use at the service location that connects to the computer or an audio feed from a sound system.
  • Computer(s), television(s) or projection screen(s) to connect to the computer in order to allow the consumers to view the captioning.

To receive on-site CART services you will need the following:

  • Computer(s), television(s) or projection screen(s) to connect to the computer used by the “captioner”.  This will allow the consumers to view the captioning.

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak,

HIS Sign is now offering Virtual Interpreting Services (VIS) to assist our clients and the deaf community.