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Sign Language Interpreting Services - When do I need a sign Language interpreter?

Sign Language Interpreting Services

When do I need a Sign Language Interpreter?

When do I need a sign Language interpreter?

The answer to the question, 'When  do I need a Sign Language Interpreter for my Deaf Client?' is dependent on the nature of the service to the Client.  This question has been studied at length by many different organizations and specified in several court settlements.


It is helpful to ask yourself if you are trying to collect or communicate important and/or complicated information.  If you are it is probably best to use an interpreter.  If you opt to use paper and pencil please consider the English proficiency of your client in making that decision.  Some Deaf clients can communicate easily in English but many do not and have only a rudimentary understanding of written English.  Also, think how much you yourself will be able to communicate if you have to write everything down.  Will your Deaf clients really be getting the same depth of information that your hearing clients will be getting?


Following is a list focusing on Medical Services that was compiled from a Settlement Agreement 'DJ 202-14-44 USA and Davis Hospital and Medical Center'.  In this settlement it was ordered that the medical office would hire an interpreter in the following situations:


  • Determination of a Patient’s medical, psychiatric, psychosocial, nutritional and functional history or description of condition
  • Provision of Patients’ rights, informed consent or permission for treatment.
  • Religious services and spiritual counseling
  • Explanation of living wills or powers of attorney (or their availability)
  • Determination and explanation of Patient’s diagnosis or prognosis
  • Explanation of daily scheduled events and activities, procedures, tests, treatment, or treatment options
  • Explanation of medications prescribed (such as dosage, instructions for how and when the medication is to be taken, and side effects or food or drug interactions}
  • Explanation regarding follow-up care, treatment, therapies, test results or other recovery
  • Admissions and or orientation
  • Discharge instructions
  • Provision of mental health evaluations, individual, group and family therapy, counseling, and other therapeutic activities, including grief counseling and crisis intervention.
  • Explanation of complex billing or insurance issues that may arise
  • Provision of educational services and educational presentations such as classes concerning birthing, nutrition, CPR and weight management.