As you know, sign language interpreters function
as a resource for Deaf and hearing individuals,
facilitating communication between them. It is an
interpreter’s job to convey the content and
spirit of any message as accurately as possible
— whether the message originates in spoken
English, ASL, contact sign, or another form of visual/gestural
communication. There are three “musts”
for a qualified interpreter:
- An interpreter must be skilled in English,
ASL, contact sign, and other forms of visual/gestural
communication and able to render any message
- An interpreter must be versatile, that is,
able to adapt to the needs of the people he
or she is serving.
- An interpreter must be professional, never
obtrusive, disrespectful or biased, and mindful
that his or her basic role is to facilitate
communication and to provide cultural and linguistic
Interpreters must keep all assignment-related information
strictly confidential. The Registry
of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) has a long-standing
Code of Professional Conduct for interpreters. Follow it.
Interpreters may not solicit work independently
from a PINS customer within one year of their last
contact with that customer and with PINS. This means
you may not solicit, accept, or negotiate (in any
way) independent work or employment through contacts
made while on PINS assignments. Violators of this
ethical trust may face litigation.
As independent contractors, interpreters are not
limited to working exclusively for PINS, in fact,
they are encouraged to work with other agencies
and private customers. However, all requests for
interpreting from our customers should be directed
to us and channeled through the usual PINS scheduling
At PINS, we evaluate all interpreters on the basis
of educational background, previous experience,
and certification. After receiving your resume,
we will schedule a verbal interview — to be
conducted either in person or over the phone. Next,
our Service Manager will meet with you to assess
your skill level, professionalism, ethics, and ability
to interact effectively in a simulated interpreting
As a PINS interpreter, your initial meeting with
a customer is often the first face-to-face contact
the customer has with PINS. Therefore, your professionalism
— or lack of professionalism — can determine
whether there will be future work for both PINS
Remember that when you receive an assignment through
us, you represent not only yourself, you represent
PINS and the entire profession of interpreting.
Because of this fact, we have the highest expectations
and requirements for our interpreters. We respect
you as a professional, and in turn, we expect to
be represented well by you.
Interpreters should arrive 15-30 minutes before
most assignments to allow time for:
- Meeting Deaf customers and becoming acclimated
to their communication preferences, as well
as reviewing any specialized vocabulary or jargon.
- Meeting hearing customers and making sure
they understand what to expect from you in your
role as interpreter.
- If you are doing a multi-interpreter assignment:
Meeting your teammate and planning the working
strategy. For example: How will you “feed”
and back each other up? When will you alternate?
- Checking the setting and working out logistics:
Will you stand or sit? Will the speaker be reading
text? Will there be visual aids? Is there an
agenda, program, or class syllabus to review?
Does the layout of the room foster effective
communication? Would the Deaf customer prefer
to have the seating re-arranged?
We expect all interpreters to reflect good taste
and professionalism in their dress. As a general
rule, your attire should be comparable to that
of the main speakers of the event you are interpreting.
Jeans and other casual clothes are almost never
Getting to Assignments
As an independent professional contractor, you
are responsible for getting to all assignments
on time. Call the contact person in advance for
directions and information about typical traffic
patterns, Metro or bus routes, taxi availability,
and other transportation issues. Be forewarned
that directions can be confusing or even incorrect
at times. For this reason, we strongly urge you
to use reliable maps to understand where you are
If you arrive on-site and your assignment has
been cancelled, the Deaf or hearing customer may
use your services for another assignment during
the same time period at the same site. If your
services are not needed, PINS asks that you call
us immediately and make yourself available for
other assignments. If there are other assignments
open, we would appreciate your taking an alternate
one. If you accept another assignment, you will
be paid for both assignments. If PINS cancels
an assignment giving you at least 48-hours notice,
you will not be paid.
Cancellations and “No-Shows”
We understand that unexpected illnesses, emergencies,
and mishaps arise. If one occurs, please contact
PINS as soon as possible so we can attempt to
locate a replacement for you or reschedule the
assignment. If, as an independent contractor,
you fail to appear for an assignment you have
accepted, and neither you nor PINS can find a
suitable replacement, or if you arrive disruptively
late, we will expect you to provide complimentary
interpreting services for a similar assignment
to the same customer in order to restore good
faith between the customer, yourself, and PINS.
If you are habitually late or prone to cancelling
assignments frequently, we may elect not to do
business with you.
Snow and Inclement
We expect interpreters to be on time to all assignments,
regardless of weather conditions. However, assignments
with the federal government are cancelled whenever
the federal government is closed. If the federal
government closes, non-government assignments
are likely to be cancelled as well, but you must
always check with the contact person. If the federal
government is on “unscheduled leave,”
call to make sure your assignment has not been
cancelled, and plan to be there. In addition,
please do two things:
You will not be paid for any assignments that are
officially cancelled due to snow or inclement weather.
- Listen to the radio and watch television for
lists of cancellations.
- Contact PINS for the assignment status.
Last-minute, unannounced closings do occur. If,
after checking all the above options, you arrive
at an assignment and find it has been cancelled
or postponed, you will be paid. It is critical,
however, that you document your arrival in some
manner: sign in with a security guard or get a signature
from a person on-site. It is much easier for us
to persuade a customer to pay for a cancellation
when there is proof that an interpreter was present
for the assignment.
When an assignment runs over the scheduled time
period, you, as an independent professional contractor,
may choose to stay or leave. If you decide to leave,
please do so graciously and professionally. If you
anticipate that a meeting may run late, it is always
best to forewarn the Deaf and hearing customers,
as well as the contact person, of your time constraints.
If you are able to stay, you should be reasonably
sure that the customer has authorization for the
additional cost of your services. Use your best
judgment and check with the contact person whenever
It is important that you call PINS within 24 hours
of the assignment to report the actual ending time
of any assignment that is completed after the scheduled
time — otherwise, we will not accept the additional
time submitted on your invoice. We must know the
exact number of overtime hours in order to accurately
bill the customer.
As a general rule, all information affecting billing
must be reported to PINS within 24 hours.
Definition of an
Most interpreters working for PINS are independent
professional contractors in private practice, meaning
they are not employees of PINS. We do not withhold
taxes or make any other deductions from their pay.
An independent contractor must provide his or her
own liability, disability, and health insurance
coverage. PINS is required by law to provide independent
contractors earning more than $600 in a calendar
year with a 1099 tax form by January 31 of the following
year. If you are an independent contractor, you
should understand how you are viewed from the Internal
Revenue Service’s perspective and from PINS’
- An independent contractor is the master of
his or her own time.
- An independent contractor can work when and
for whom he or she chooses.
- An independent contractor makes his or her
services available to the general public.
- An independent contractor generally gives
his or her services to two or more different
businesses at the same time.
- An independent contractor is paid by the assignment.
- An independent contractor who agrees to complete
an assignment is legally obligated to provide
compensation for failure to complete it.
- An independent contractor builds costs such
as meals and transportation into the billing
price of an assignment.
- An independent contractor is responsible for
his or her own training.
- An independent contractor cannot be fired
as long as he or she produces the result that
meets the requirements of the assignment for
which he or she was hired.
We realize that independent professional contractors
are not dedicated to us exclusively, and PINS
abides by the IRS rules for conducting business
with independent contractors. We feel that it
is important for you to understand those rules
Billing PINS and
We pay interpreters by the assignment, according
to the number of hours worked. As an independent
contractor, each interpreter negotiates his or
her hourly rate or assignment rate with PINS.
All assignments are billed to the customer and
paid to the interpreter to the nearest half-hour,
with a two-hour-per-assignment minimum. For example,
an assignment that starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends
at 10:45 a.m. would be billed to the customer
and paid to the interpreter as 3 hours. If you
are late to an assignment, you should conscientiously
bill PINS from the time you arrived, to the nearest
We make payments to independent professional contractors
on a biweekly schedule. Invoices received between
the first and the fifteenth of the month will
be paid on the fifth of the following month; invoices
received between the sixteenth and the last day
of the month will be paid on the twentieth of
the following month. If the 15th and the last
day of the month fall on a weekend or holiday,
invoices are to be sent in on the last working
day of each specified period. Whenever the fifth
or the twentieth falls on a weekend or a holiday,
checks will be processed the next business day.
For any invoices paid late (after these deadlines),
we will pay an additional 10% surcharge up to
$50. We must receive an invoice for services rendered
within 30 days of the assignment. Please mail,
e-mail, or fax your invoices to us at the address
below within 30 days:
Partners In Sign, Inc.
1200 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Fax: (202) 638-5632
Once we receive your invoice, we will send an
email notifying you of receipt. Therefore, if
you haven't received an email from us, we haven't
received your invoice.
The cost of gas, parking, food, and other business
expenses will not be reimbursed to independent
professional contractors. You should account for
these items in your hourly or assignment rate.
(We do not generally bill our customers for these
costs.) Occasionally, a unique situation will
warrant the inclusion of such expenses on an invoice,
but you must negotiate these special arrangements
with PINS on a case-by-case basis.
A Final Note
We at PARTNERS IN SIGN are proud to offer the
finest interpreting services. If you are interested
in joining our interpreting team, please contact
us at: (202) 638-5630 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest in PINS. We are eager
to hear from you!