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   a PINS Interpreter

1200 G Street, NW
Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
Voice: (202) 638-5630
Fax: (202) 638-5632
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Getting the Most For Your Interpreting Dollar

Because interpreters are in high demand, we recommend that you notify us at least two weeks in advance when requesting interpreting services. Begin by gathering as much information as you can about the event to be interpreted. The more details an interpreter knows about the people involved, topic of discussion, special vocabulary or jargon, and the purpose of the presentation or meeting, the better he or she will be able to perform.

When you contact PARTNERS IN SIGN (PINS), please have the following facts:
  • Your name and phone number
  • Your company’s name and billing address
  • Name of the person authorizing the interpreting services
  • Date, time, duration and place of the event
  • Name and phone number of an on-site contact person
  • Name(s) of Deaf customer(s) and/or number of Deaf individuals who will be attending the event
  • Sign language mode preferred: American Sign Language (ASL), contact sign (Signed English/PSE) or other.
  • Nature of the assignment:
      Meeting: One-on-one or a group?
      Platform Presentation: Will there be lectures, a panel discussion, interviews, poetry, singing, and/or visual presentations? How many hearing speakers? Deaf presenters?
      Training: Lectures? Technical language? Hands-on learning? Equipment?
  • Credit card information
  • Name of specifically requested interpreter (if applicable)
Quick PINS Links
  How Many Interpreters?
  Certified Versus Qualified
  Working With Interpreters
  Short-Notice Requests
  Customer Responsibilities

How Many Interpreters?
A rule of thumb when scheduling interpreters: Any assignment more than one hour long requires two interpreters. PINS reserves the right to determine how many interpreters to send based on the length of the assignment, the nature of the assignment, and the skills that are needed. (Some short assignments, such as those involving platform interpreting, may require two interpreters, while some full day on-call assignments may only require one interpreter.)

Certified Versus Qualified
The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) was established in 1964 to certify basic interpreting skill competency. Certification is important because the general public usually cannot determine whether an interpreter is qualified or not. However, many uncertified interpreters possess professional-level skills and are fully aware of their ethical responsibilities as interpreters. All PINS interpreters in the DC area have been screened to ensure that they are qualified for the assignments we send them to.

Working With Interpreters
Upon his or her arrival, an interpreter will introduce himself or herself to those involved in the event. Then the interpreter will generally request information about the communication session being interpreted, and ask to meet the Deaf individual(s). Sometimes a Deaf customer will lead the introductions and explain to others the role of the interpreter. In all cases, an interpreter should have the opportunity to interact with the Deaf individuals prior to interpreting in order to discuss their communication preferences, special needs, and optimum seating and/or standing arrangements. Of course, courtesies like providing a place for an interpreter’s coat and bag and directions to the nearest rest room and water fountain are much appreciated. Before an event, please express any preferences regarding the attire of the interpreter, as interpreters are advised to dress in a manner that reflects the presenters.

Please offer feedback — both positive and negative — to the interpreter and to PINS. If it is at all possible during a break, but certainly after the event, discuss with the interpreter and the Deaf customer(s) how things are going or how they might be improved. Your input is invaluable to both the interpreter and PINS.

Short-Notice Requests
Although making a last-minute or “short-notice” request will cost more, it is always better to have an interpreter and not need his or her services than to need an interpreter and be without one. Because it may take hours for PINS to locate an interpreter with the appropriate skills to work on short notice, there is a surcharge for such requests.

Unfortunately, the number of interpreters has not kept pace with the rising demand for interpreting services, so there will be times when PINS cannot fulfill a last-minute or “short-notice” request.

Customer Responsibilities
It is difficult for an interpreter to deal with issues that may interfere with the interpreting process when the interpreter is actually working. Those responsible for coordinating the interpreted event should take responsibility for solving problems, making certain that Deaf customers can see and/or hearing customers can hear the interpreter at all times. Following are a few suggestions:
  • Do not permit more than one person to talk or sign at the same time.
  • Do not permit people to crowd in front of the interpreter or block the sight line needed for communication.
  • Do not permit lights to be turned out for PowerPoint presentations or videos, be mindful that the interpreter needs to be visible.
  • If necessary, change seating arrangements and provide microphones or other equipment.
  • Check with the interpreter and Deaf customers during a break to ensure that things are going smoothly.
On rare occasions, an interpreter may not meet the expectations of the customer. Sometimes an interpreter finds that an assignment differs substantially from the request. If a problem arises, please share your concerns directly with the interpreter — there may be a misunderstanding, and simple solution found. If the conflict cannot be resolved, contact PINS.

A Final Note
These suggestions have been provided to help PINS’ customers accommodate the communication needs of Deaf and hearing employees, patrons, clients, and customers. While this guide is meant to be as complete as possible, you may have questions or need clarification on certain points. Please feel free to e-mail us at information@pinsdc.com or call us at (202) 638-5630.

Contact us directly for rates for interpreting services.