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Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need an interpreter?

Usually, a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing will notify the Doctor, employer, or business of their communication needs after scheduling an appointment or meeting. An interpreter should be present for all lengthy and complex exchanges of information. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires accommodations for persons with a disability and the use of an interpreter is one such accommodation.

Why can't I use a family member or a friend who signs?

Although many family members and friends possess some basic sign skills, they rarely have the proficiency of a certified interpreter. Even if they are skilled communicators, they may be too emotionally involved to interpret "effectively, accurately and impartially" as required by the law. Using an interpreter from SLIS also alleviates the problem of maintaining confidentiality, as our service providers are all bound by a Professional Code of Conduct. There are a several laws that prohibit the use of family members to interpret, especially in medical or legal situations.

Is writing notes an acceptable alternative?

Written notes will suffice only if the person is fluent in written English; being able to both read and write grammatically correct sentences. American Sign Language and English are two separate languages with different grammar and syntax. Relying on written communication can lead to misunderstandings that can be detrimental in medical, legal, or business situations. The person who needs the accommodation is the best judge of what accommodation is appropriate.

Can't all Deaf people read lips?

Only 30% of English is readable on the lips. Prediction plays an important part in lip reading, so if the parties are familiar with each other and are talking about familiar topics, lip reading may be appropriate for some Deaf consumers. However, the best lipreaders only get 30% of the information when lipreading.

However, there are several factors, such as the clear enunciation of the speaker, absence of facial hair, lighting, rate of speech, and accents that can affect the success of lip reading. Sometimes Oral translators are needed for people who are proficient lip readers for group situations or presentations.

Does the Law say I must have an interpreter?

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires "reasonable accommodation" for persons with disabilities seeking services from any federally funded program. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 expanded the requirement of appropriate accommodations for persons with disabilities to include most other entities. The ADA was amended to clarify portions of the law in 2008. An interpreter is one such accommodation. For more information, contact the Department of Justice. All Texas courts are required by law to have an interpreter that is Court Certified or a certified CART provider for Deaf or Hard of Hearing persons needing communication access in court. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) added additional requirements and qualifications for interpreters in Healthcare settings.