FAQ – Sign Language Interpreting Services

What is a sign language interpreter?

A sign language interpreter makes communication possible between people who are deaf or hard of hearing and people who can hear. Interpreting is a complex process that requires a high degree of linguistic, cognitive and technical skills in both English and American Sign Language (ASL). Sign language interpreting, like spoken language interpreting, involves more than simply replacing a word of spoken English with a signed representation of that English word. ASL has its own grammatical rules, sentence structure and cultural nuances.  If you are new to working with deaf interpreters, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf has a lot of helpful publications about standard practices.

Whose responsibility is it to provide the sign language interpreter?

It is the agency, service or business that is responsible for payment for interpreting services.  Federal law (Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) generally requires an interpreter to be provided when it is necessary to ensure effective communication for a deaf or hard of hearing person. (Source: KCDHH)

What is the cost of an interpreter?

You can download a current copy of our rates below:
Interpreting Service of the Commonwealth Service Agreement

The cost of an interpreter can vary, but all rates have the same general considerations.  Generally, interpreters in Kentucky charge the rate that the Office for Vocational Rehabilitation pays (or less) – it is a documented hourly rate for services and is comparable to what interpreters in surrounding states with similar qualifications are paid.  You may call VR’s interpreter coordinator to ask what the current day and evening/weekend rates are.

This is my first experience working with a deaf person, where can I find out more?

We have lots of helpful information on our resources page, but you can also contact Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to take advantage of expertise available to you on a state level.  The program administrator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing services can make recommendations and assist you in working with a deaf client.

I have a situation that must be addressed carefully and confidentially.  What can I do to ensure the very best care for my client?

Some interpreting situations can be delicate, especially in a medical, social, or legal environment.  We have compiled separate guidelines and considerations for these types of situations: Interpreting In Therapeutic Settings and Physicians And Deaf Patients.

I would like to be able to communicate with a deaf friend or family member.  Where can I find more information on learning American Sign Language?

The Statewide Family Center through the KY School for the Deaf is a great place to start on your journey to being able to communicate directly with a family member who is deaf or hard of hearing.

If you have questions that were not addressed here, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.