Frequently Asked Questions

Compiled below is a list of commonly asked questions. If you have further questions, please contact us above and a DIS associate will respond.

How do I get a sign language or oral interpreter?

As soon as you have scheduled an appointment or meeting with a deaf client, patient or employee click here to complete our online Request an Interpreter form.

Please have the following information available:

1. Name of deaf person
2. Date and time of appointment
3. Type of appointment
4. Location
5. Estimated length of time interpreter is needed
6. Name and phone # of a contact person
7. Billing information

An interpreter will be at the appointment or meeting at the date and time requested to facilitate communication between the hearing individual and the deaf individual.

Payment is not required at the time services are rendered. Your organization will receive an invoice approximately two weeks after the appointment. For your convenience, DIS accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

For an emergency or same-day service, please call us nationwide toll-free at (844) 545-2946.

We are glad to answer any additional questions that you may have concerning the use of sign language interpreters, working with individuals who are deaf, or establishing reasonable accommodations.

We are available via phone requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Is it acceptable to just write notes back and fort to our deaf consumer/patient?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a distinct and unique language with its own grammar and syntax. Unless the deaf person has an extremely good command of the English language, writing notes in English would have little benefit. It could be compared to writing notes in English to a Spanish-speaking person.

The deaf individual may understand a few English words, but may miss the full meaning or content of the conversation. Structurally and conceptually, ASL is very different from English and is not based upon English. Because of the linguistics differences, many English words and ideas do not transfer well to paper.

Depending on the situation, this could be detrimental. Liability issues should be of great concern. Utilizing the skills of a professional interpreter is the best choice for accurate and effective communication with a deaf individual.

Why should we not use a family member or friend to interpret?

In most cases, friends or family members do not have the sign language skills or vocabulary necessary to provide effective communication in professional situations. They may also be too close to the individual to give an objective and accurate interpretation. A family member or friend may withhold information they believe is not important or to keep from upsetting the deaf individual, not relaying the full content of the conversation. An example would be a doctor not rendering treatment to a family member.

Professional interpreters are highly skilled and nationally/state certified in sign language. They are trained in the interpreting process with a focus on non-manual and specialized vocabulary. Professional interpreters are required to maintain their certification with continuous training and mandatory continuing education units (CEU). Certified interpreters are bound by a Code of Ethics for confidentiality, impartiality, and professionalism to ensure a true and accurate interpretation.

Problems with using a friend or family member:

  1. Objectivity
  2. Skill Level
    1. Sign language skill
    2. Specialized vocabulary
    3. Reverse interpreting ability
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Liability Insurance

Benefits of using a professional interpreter:

    1. Professional Code of Ethics
      1. Confidentiality
      2. Impartiality
      3. Professionalism
    2. Training / Expertise
    3. Experience
    4. Specialized Vocabulary
      1. Medical
      2. Legal
      3. Education
      4. Technological
      5. Other Specialties
    5. Liability Insurance
    6. ADA Compliance

Why shouldn't we use a staff member who has taken some sign language classes?

The interpreting process is very different from casual signing. ASL has many idioms and idiosyncrasies, as all languages do. Along with manual signs, ASL relies heavily upon non-manual communication. Within the term of “Sign Language” there are four major signing modes that range from true ASL (American Sign Language) to PSE (Contact Signing), to SEE II (Signing Exact English) and CUED Speech. The deaf community is extremely diverse. The interpreter must be skilled in each of these areas to be able to match the signing style of the deaf consumer for effective communication to take place.

Several years of interactive training is required to achieve a level of proficiency to accurately interpret most situations. There are also different levels of state certification for interpreters which determine the types of assignments/situations they are professionally and legally capable of interpreting.

Liability Insurance is another serious issue one needs to consider before choosing to use a member of staff as opposed to a professional interpreter. For everyone’s protection, make sure you are dealing with a reputable agency that carries Professional Liability insurance on each of its interpreters.

Helpful Links

Deaf Interpreter Services, Inc. does not endorse any of the products, vendors, consultants, or documentation referenced on this link page. Any mention of vendors, products, or services is for informational purposes only.


San Antonio Police Dept – Victim Advocacy Section (SAPD-VAS)

Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice – Victim Services Division

Texas Rehabilitation Commission

Texas HHS (Health and Human services)

Texas Workforce Commission

Texas Department of Health

Disability Rights Texas

DHHSC (Division for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services)

DARS (Dept. of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services)


Department of Justice, ADA

Disability Rights Advocates

ADA (American with Disabilities Act)

Social Security Administration

Health & Human Services



Clearview Innovations (Interpreter gear/aids/devices)

TSID (Texas Society of Interpreters for the Deaf)

RID (Registry for Interpreters of the Deaf)

NAD (National Association of the Deaf)

TAD (Texas Association of the Deaf)

NTD (National Theatre for the Deaf)

TSD (Texas School for the Deaf)

Society for Human Resource Professionals

Texas Hearing & Service Dogs


San Antonio College – Interpreter Training Program

Gallaudet University

RIT/NTID (Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf)

Deafness Research Foundation

Sunshine Cottage

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired


Texas Medical Association

A&B Hearing Aid & Audiological Center

Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbloom, M.D., Ear Nose & Throat
19016 Stone Oak Parkway, San Antonio, TX
Phone: 888-255-8164

Ear Medical Group, Otology/Neurotology

Directory of Texas Hospitals

Providence Place

Methodist Healthcare System

Texas Hospital Association

ASL Cancer Education Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

La Vista Deaf Retirement Community

Hearing Loss Association of America


S.A.I.L.S. (San Antonio Independent Living Services)

ARC (Association of Retarded Citizens)

Deaf Resource Library

Community Care – Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities (DBMD)

Special Olympics, Texas


Alamo Community Association of the Deaf

Self Help for Hard of Hearing (SHHH) – Texas Chapter

Deaf Digest
Deaf Nation


Cornerstone Church

Harvest Fellowship

Windcrest United Methodist Church

Community Bible Church
ASL Interpreted at 5:00pm Saturdays or 10:00am on Sundays.

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