There are two main ways to set up interpreting services: on your own; or through an agency.
If you’ve never arranged interpreting services before, you have a complex schedule to organize, and you don’t have much time to arrange everything, you would be better off using an agency. On the other hand, if you have a simple request, plenty of time, and a tight budget, you may prefer to hire the interpreter(s) directly.
Sometimes people who are searching for interpreters have the impression that there are very few of them around. Most of NorCRID’s members are working interpreters in the Bay Area and Northern California. A helpful analogy is to think of interpreters like the roads in our area. Most of the time, there are plenty of lanes to go around, but that is not the case during peak traffic times and rush hour.
Hiring an interpreter can seem expensive. Interpreters earn a living from their work just like other professionals. We have families and partners and children and homes just like you do. In addition, unless interpreters are staff interpreters, they pay their own health insurance and self-employment (employer) taxes, fund their own retirement plans, and spend more money on their cars than people who have a regular and predictable commute.
Here are a few tips to improve your chances of successfully hiring the right interpreters when you need them:
Hiring an interpreter for your communication needs can be a daunting task. NorCRID allows referral agencies to join as organizational members and be listed here on our website. An interpreter referral agency can guide you through the process of getting your communication needs met. NorCRID does not endorse any particular agency above another. Organizational members are listed in alphabetical order. You are encouraged to call several until you to find the one that meets your particular needs best. Most agencies serve a wide area; thus their address does not necessarily indicate areas served.
If you would like to hire an interpreter directly, please read the following information as a way to begin to educate yourself. You can locate interpreters directly by searching the database of our parent organization, The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, by visiting www.RID.org. Alternatively, you may describe your communication needs in an email and post it to the NorCRID list, which is a free Yahoo group that many interpreters in the Bay Area and beyond subscribe to.
Some guidelines for posting a call for interpreters:
You may get several responses or none at all. The earlier you begin looking for interpreters, the more likely you are to fill your need.
Click here to post to the NorCRID list
NorCRID takes a formal position which states that a consumer’s best tools to evaluate choices of interpreters are:
Many people who are trying to locate an interpreter may not realize that they have an expert right under their very noses: the Deaf consumer of interpreting services. Deaf people may not always be able to recommend interpreters by name, they often know what qualities to look for in interpreters. Even Deaf consumers who know little about interpreting, know who they like to be around and who they trust. Over time, you’ll come to know when communication is effective as well.
When you hire interpreters regularly, it’s worth the time to develop relationships with several professionals. Interpreting is likely to be more comfortable for everybody when there is consistency in communication protocol and when the interpreter is familiar with the context of your interactions. However, “freelance” interpreters accept appointments from a variety of interpreter referral services, businesses, medical providers, schools, and government offices so you may not be able to hire the same professional every time you need one.
Reliable interpreters adhere to the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct which has defined the professional behavior of interpreters for many years. Some interpreters also act as consultants or teachers-but not while they are interpreting.
Interpreters must gain and keep the respect of the Deaf and hearing consumers with whom they work. They have an obligation to remain fair and objective, which is one reason that it’s not a good idea to hire family members or friends who are not qualified interpreters even if they are competent signers.