Disability Services Center

Hiring ASL Interpreters

When a request for interpreting services is received, every effort should be made to grant the request. It is the responsibility of each USM unit to provide access to Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who need to use the resources the unit provides to its constituency. However, scheduling interpreters can be difficult; in some situations it may be necessary to plan for longer lead times.

Hearing impairment is a broad term that refers to hearing losses of varying degrees from hard-of-hearing to total deafness. Hearing-impaired persons vary widely in their preferred mode of communication. It is often necessary to take this into account in order to schedule appropriate services.

Purpose of Interpreters and Transliterators
An interpreter’s role is to facilitate communication between hearing and Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals by conveying all auditory and signed information the individuals use to express themselves. Though some hard-of-hearing or even completely deaf individuals are able to express themselves orally, interpreters generally voice for Deaf individuals and others who may prefer this.
The common types of services provided by interpreters include:

  1. American Sign Language (ASL) – a visual-gestural language with its own grammar and lexicon. It is NOT a signed version of English; its syntax is quite different, more nearly resembling the syntactic features of highly inflected languages like Russian or Italian than English.
  2. Sign Language Transliteration – sign language and mouth movements using elements of ASL and English.
  3. Oral Transliteration – silent repetition of spoken English.
  4. Cued Speech Transliteration – a tool to make spoken languages visible. It is a phonemically based system that uses eight hand shapes in four locations near the face to supplement the information available on the lips during speech.

The only information an interpreter attempts to transmit is the message the participants wish to convey. Interpreters do NOT add opinions or recommendations to conversations nor change the intent of the message. An interpreter will convey any fear, anger, happiness, excitement or sarcasm expressed by the Deaf or Hard of Hearing Person.

How to hire an Interpreter

    1. Consult with the deaf or hard or hearing individual requesting the interpreter regarding his or her special needs, i.e., language or communication preference (ASL, Signed English, Cued Speech, etc.)
    2. Contact an interpreting provider / referral service;

      1. Certified Interpreting (agency) Phone 798-7995; ruth@certifiedinterpreting.com.
      2. Pine Tree Society Deaf Services (agency) Phone 885-0536; interpreting@pinetreesociety.org
      3. Sign Language Interpreting Plus (SLIP) Phone 797-9986 (V/TTY) sistah1@juno.com
      4. Valorie Sears (independent contractor) Phone 939-7248; vsears@maine.rr.com


American Sign Language Services

Cued Speech Services
Cued Speech of Maine President - Suzanne Laptewicz, 622-2564 (V/TTY) E-mail: SuzanneML@cs.com

  1. Provide the following information to the interpreter/agency
    • Type of interpreting being requested by the Deaf or hard of hearing person
    • the name of the deaf or hard of hearing individual requesting service if this agreeable to the Deaf or hard of hearing individual
    • On-site contact person and phone number.
    • Assignment date including starting and ending time.
    • Location: exact address, building name, office number
    • Directions to location including major cross streets
    • Number of deaf, hard of hearing and hearing participants
    • Type of assignment, i.e., meeting, educational setting, technical presentation, platform interpreting, etc.
    • Any special environmental needs, i.e., room will be darkened to show videos, participants will work in small groups, etc.
    • Payment procedures (see Payment Procedures outlined below).
  2. Prepare the contract (see Payment Procedures outlined below).

Cost for Interpreting Services

  1. Cost is based on an hourly rate for the contracted time.
    1. Contracted time includes site time, travel time and preparation time.
    2. Preparation time may be needed for such things as technical presentations, platform interpreting, videotaped interpretations, early arrival at the site to speak with consumers, or to review relevant information. Keep in mind that interpreters can only interpret what they understand. If the topic in question calls for any special background or vocabulary, the interpreter must be given an opportunity for appropriate preparation.
    3. Hourly rates are based on the following:
      • time of day
      • week day or weekend
      • certification level of the interpreter.(evening and weekend rates are higher than normal business hour rates)
  2. Usually, a two hour minimum is charged.
  3. Each Interpreting service sets its own fees. Currently fees range between $45 and $56 per hour for normal business hours.
  4. Events lasting more than one hour that require continuous interpreting (i.e., USM Graduation, continuous lecturing, speaker with rapid speaking rate) may require an interpreting team of two or more interpreters. The same hourly rate, including travel and preparation time, will be charged for the additional interpreters.
  5. Cancellations are billed. Check with the agency for the cancellation policy.

Environmental Needs
There may need to be some physical adaptation to the area where the interpreter will be used:

  1. Lighting and background – the lighting must be sufficient for the person using ASL to see the interpreter and the background behind the interpreter should be a solid color, preferably dark.
  2. Placement of the interpreter – lines of sight should be kept free for visual access to information. The interpreter will attempt to stand or sit in direct line with the speaker, the student, and any visual aids. The consumer(s) will need to be close enough to see the interpreter’s gestures and facial expressions as well as the speaker.

Payment Procedures

  1. Complete a “Personal Service Contract” form from the Business Services office web site.
  2. Complete the top and bottom portion. Be sure to estimate the dollar amount a little higher than what is expected. This will eliminate the need to resubmit an additional contract in the event that the meeting or conference exceeds the scheduled time.
  3. Have the contract signed by the Consultant/Contractor and the University designee.
  4. Prepare a Requisition form. This form can be found at http://www.usm.maine.edu/bus/purforms.html
  5. Once both parties have signed the contract, send the contract and Requisition form to the accounting supervisor in Business Services.
  6. Business Services will issue an open purchase order number for the individual or agency contract, this number will be used throughout the contract for all invoices billed for that contracted service.
  7. Submit the original invoice from the contracted party adding the purchase order number, date, and approvers signature to: Accounts Payable/Business Services, 211 Corthell Hall, Gorham.
  8. When the contract has been fulfilled and all invoices are in and have been posted on GL, then you can close the open P.O.’s or “encumbrance”. This is done by going to http://www.usm.maine.edu/bus/, then Encumberance Removal. Complete the form with the appropriate information and submit. The encumbrance (or open P.O.) will be closed, and the change should appear on next months GL.

Tips for Using Interpreters

Hearing participants should direct all conversation to the person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

The interpreter is not part of the conversation and is not permitted to voice personal opinions or enter the conversation. Please understand that interpreters are bound by a code of ethics; do not ask them to step out of the interpreter’s prescribed role.

In discussion settings:

  • Only one person should talk at a time as the interpreter can only relay one message at a time.
  • Prior to speaking the speaker should raise his or her hand so the person who is deaf will know who is speaking.

Some ideas do not translate easily from one language to another so the interpreter may have to use longer expressions to relay the information. For example, an interpreter may still be signing after the person has stopped speaking or may continue speaking when the Deaf individual is no longer signing. There is usually also a delay between the time an individual begins speaking and the time the interpreter begins to sign.

In general, it is important in all interpreted conversations that the hearing individuals be sensitive to matters of timing. Interpreters can be most effective when all parties are careful to allow the interpreter time work.

(If you have questions about obtaining interpreters you may contact the Office of Support for Students with Disabilities for guidance.)