No. It is a violation of both ADA and TJC requirements to not offer onsite AND/OR online interpreting services. Video Remote Interpreting or VRI, must not be used in lieu of an on-site interpreter, or as the *only* accommodation available for Deaf or hard of hearing individuals’ communication needs. The preference of the deaf person *must* be honored.

Settlement Agreement between Fox and Trinity Regional Medical Center & Trinity Health Systems: Deaf/HH patients have right to choose between online or onsite interpreting services (section 3 “Provision of Interpreter”).

USA vs. Inova Health System: Defines VRI and on-site interpreter usage, and provides guidance on the importance of patient choice between the two.

USA vs. Dimensions Health Corp dba Laurel Regional Hospital: VRI usage and when technology fails to provide appropriate services.

National Association of the Deaf (NAD) recommended usages for VRI

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) VRI position paper

Judicial Council of California, recommended guidelines for VRI use in the courtroom

All Language Alliance article, VRI services

Gallaudet University Video Interpreting Repository. A collection of articles, discussion, material and media dealing with VRI services.


Oklahoma currently recognizes 2 certifications and 2 assessment sources:

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf or “RID”: The most prestigious and trusted certification. Persons who hold national certification are considered to have demonstrated general knowledge in the field of interpreting, ethical decision making and interpreting skills. Candidates earn national certification if they demonstrate professional knowledge and skills that meet or exceed the minimum professional standards necessary to perform in a broad range of interpreting assignments. The following RID certifications are available in Oklahoma: CSC, CI, CT, NIC, NIC Advanced, NIC Master, CDI, SC:L, and ED: K-12

Quality Assurance Screening Test or “QAST”: The Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Oklahoma Interpreter Certification and Resource Center manages and administers this system and is the state certifying body for Oklahoma interpreters. The ICRC uses the Quality Assurance Screening Test to evaluate the proficiency of individuals interested in becoming employed as interpreters for the deaf in the state of Oklahoma. The QAST exam awards five levels of certification (five being the highest skilled) and awards separate certifications for interpreting (English to American Sign Language– not English based signs) and/or transliterating (English to English based signs). It is possible for a candidate to hold one QAST certification in transliterating, and have no certification in interpreting and vice versa. It is also possible for a candidate to have a high level in one certification, a five in transliterating for example, and a one in interpreting.

Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment or “EIPA”:  An assessment, not certification, the program focuses on supporting the unique skills required for sign interpretation in the educational setting. The EIPA evaluates an interpreter’s ability to interpret classroom content, student discourse and classroom discourse.

Educational Signed Skills Evaluation or “ESSE”: An assessment, not certification, the E.S.S.E. was developed to provide a means of identifying the dominant signing style of an individual and to provide meaningful, helpful feedback on areas of strength and areas in need of improvement [for work in the educational setting]. It provides an overall expressive skills rating as well as information on the type, level, and degree of understanding demonstrated receptively for both English-related signing and signing in American Sign Language.


Yes. The National Association of the Deaf explains this well. “A public accommodation may deny an auxiliary aid or service only if it can demonstrate that it would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, or would constitute an undue burden (a significant difficulty or expense). If the public accommodation is able to demonstrate that there is a fundamental alteration or an undue burden in the provision of a particular auxiliary aid or service it must, however, be prepared to provide an alternative auxiliary aid or service, where one exists. 28 C.F.R. § 36.303(f).

Yes: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990, requires businesses, organizations, services, and other entities to make its services/programs/products accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. A reasonable accommodation can be a qualified Sign Language interpreter. Furthermore; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, requires businesses, organizations, services, and other entities that receive federal funding (including contracts with the government i.e., Medicare, Medicaid providers) to make its services/programs/product accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. A company may be exemption if it can prove the accommodation is a financial hardship. This is not measured appointment by appointment, but rather by the entity’s annual revenue and any federal assistance in which the entity might qualify.

No. Foreign language interpreting services, although good and necessary do not accommodate a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. A Sign Language interpreter is accommodating a disability, and provides linguistic accessibility.

Yes. Title I of the ADA requires EMPLOYERS to provide accommodations to a disabled employee (if they have more than 15 employees), and Title III  requires organizations that provide services or goods to the public, to make communication accessible no matter how many employees the organization has. This is the same title and law, which requires hallways and bathroom stalls widened for wheelchair accessibility, regardless of the number of employees.

No, this is forbidden by the ADA and other Federal and State laws. However, you can raise ALL your clients’ fees to create revenue for disability accommodations. In addition, there are tax breaks and rebates available for small organizations that provide accommodations under the ADA. See our Resources page for more information.

Depends. If the Deaf person says note writing is not appropriate, then note writing may not be used. Generally speaking, you will need a qualified interpreter to effectively communicate with a Deaf person. Some Deaf people do not have adequate English skills to effectively communicate by notes. If a Deaf person does not understand English, no amount of printed English material will be effective. A skilled and qualified interpreter is able to assess the language needs of a Deaf person so they can match the mode of communication most readily used by the Deaf person. Even when a Deaf person’s English skills are very good, writing is time-consuming and cumbersome, and notes tend to be brief and businesslike rather than conversational and interactive. An interpreter allows both the hearing and Deaf consumers to speak freely and openly, thereby reducing the risk of misunderstandings.

National Association of the Deaf:  “Deaf and hard of hearing people deserve to have interpreters who know what they are doing and who do it well. A qualified interpreter is one who can, both receptively and expressively, interpret accurately, effectively, and impartially, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. Interpreters who struggle with their own expressive and receptive sign skills are difficult to understand, and cannot convey their clients’ messages accurately. This situation benefits no one. Deaf and hard of hearing people get frustrated, hearing people (businesses, speakers, interviewers, etc.) form an unfavorable impression of the entire experience, and the interpreting profession gets shortchanged.”

Department of Justice “Effective Communication- People with disabilities cannot participate in government-sponsored programs, services, or activities if they cannot understand what is being communicated. What good would it do for a deaf person to attend a city council meeting to hear the debate on a proposed law if there was no qualified sign language interpreter or real-time captioning (that is, a caption of what is being said immediately after the person says it)? Providing effective communication means offering auxiliary aids and services to enable someone with a disability to participate in the program, service, or activity.”

A: Usually no. The law stipulates the individual providing the interpreting service must be a “qualified interpreter,” able to impartially and accurately interpret spoken English into the equivalent of signed language most readily used by the deaf person. “Signing” and “interpreting” are completely different skills. A qualified and skilled interpreter is able to accomplish the legal requirements, unlike many signers. IF your staff member meets the ADA’s requirements for a “qualified interpreter”, and the deaf person considers them “qualified,” then the signer may be used. Ask the deaf person if the accommodation is appropriate. The deaf person should have the final say on who is qualified for each situation, and should be asked each time.

No. It is never the disabled person’s responsibility to provide your company with an accommodation. You would never tell a wheel chaired person to bring their own ramp. The same law governs both accommodations. The entity is responsible to provide, and coordinate the accommodation, not the disabled person.

No. You should avoid using family members or friends. Rarely can these individuals remain impartial, and generally are not “interpreters.” (see Q “I have a staff member…” ) You risk miscommunication because you have no way to measure the quality of interpreting skills. In many instances, case law determined a signing family member or friend was not a “reasonable accommodation,” especially when the deaf person requested a qualified interpreter and the family member or friend was used instead