Sign language interpreters are often asked to volunteer their time. We understand that there are many groups with very limited funds, and we do sometimes offer pro bono services.
When seeking a volunteer interpreter, please consider the following:
We are professionals and typically independent contractors, and as such, we have many expenses associated with our profession. It isn’t always easy for us to find enough work to compensate for the time for which we are unpaid. We have slow periods that must be compensated for by hard work in other periods. We must also be careful not to overuse our hands and arms.
While there are many worthy not-for-profit organizations that we would like to support, we cannot always afford to donate our time. If your organization has a budget of any size, please consider making a line-item for sign language interpreting. Become familiar with laws (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act) that mandate the provision of interpreting services, so that you can clearly understand if and when you have a legal obligation to provide these accommodations.
There are some groups and some events for which it is quite appropriate to request free interpreting services. This may include small grass-roots groups/events like a neighborhood watch meeting or an artists’ collective. It could also be appropriate to seek a volunteer interpreter when a small church is arranging a funeral or other rite of passage. And some interpreters are happy to offer their time to contribute to a cause that they find important.
If you believe that your event is appropriate for pro bono interpreting, you are welcome to ask the moderator of the NorCRIDList (TheNorCRIDlistfirstname.lastname@example.org) to post your announcement seeking volunteer interpreters. Be prepared for the possibility of a small response. As with other requests for interpreters, it is best to begin your search as early as possible.