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About PINS
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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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Would you like a fascinating career with our esteemed group of interpreters?

If you are a professional sign language interpreter, working with PINS offers you the same personal attention that our Deaf and hearing customers enjoy. We are small by design, well-staffed, and efficient. By maintaining a low overhead we are assured of staying close to our customers and our interpreters. You can have confidence that we will match you with assignments best suited to your particular interests and skills.

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 information@pinsdc.com.

At PINS, we have three types of working arrangements with interpreters:
  1. We employ staff interpreters full or part-time.
  2. We subcontract with interpreters in private practice for fixed-schedule assignments.
  3. We subcontract with interpreters in private pratice for assignments as needed.
Please read the following guidelines so you are apprised of our policies and the necessary qualifications for being a PINS interpreter. Closely observing these guidelines will help create a mutually trusting and fulfilling work environment for you, the interpreter, for PINS, and for our Deaf and hearing customers.
Quick PINS Links
  Skills Assessment
  Providing Services
  Getting Assignments
  Customer Cancellations and “No-Shows”
  Interpreter Cancellations and “No-Shows”
  Snow and Inclement Weather
  Definition of an Independent Contractor
  Billing PINS and Getting Paid


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:
  1. An interpreter must be skilled in English, ASL, contact sign, and other forms of visual/gestural communication and able to render any message faithfully.
  2. An interpreter must be versatile, that is, able to adapt to the needs of the people he or she is serving.
  3. 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 mediation.

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 procedure.

Skills Assessment

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 situation.

Providing Services

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 and you.

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 appropriate.

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 going.

Customer Cancellations and “No-Shows”

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.

Interpreter 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 Weather

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:

  • Listen to the radio and watch television for lists of cancellations.
  • Contact PINS for the assignment status.
You will not be paid for any assignments that are officially cancelled due to snow or inclement weather.

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 possible.

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 Independent Contractor

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’ perspective:
  • 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 as well.

Billing PINS and Getting Paid

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 half-hour.

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
Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
Fax: (202) 638-5632
E-Mail: information@pinsdc.com

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 information@pinsdc.com.

Thank you for your interest in PINS. We are eager to hear from you!