Frequently Asked Questions for Hiring an Interpreter


    Who coordinates and pays for interpreter services?

  • If a deaf student requests an interpreter for an event sponsored by your office, your program/department is responsible for contacting interpreters and arranging the services, as well as paying for the interpreters. When courts evaluate legal responsibility to provide services vs. undue financial burden, they look at the entire UC budget and not an individual office or program’s budget. Currently, there is no centralized accommodation fund to draw from at UCSC. When costs are more than the program’s budget, some offices have shared the costs with the “next level up” (e.g. the dean’s office, vice chancellor’s office, etc).


  • Shouldn't a "Disability Resource Center" handle all campus disability accommodations, including interpreter requests?

  • The Disability Resource Center is funded with state monies to specifically address classroom related accommodations. The purpose of the DRC is to provide equal educational access through academic support services. We authorize and coordinate accommodations for required course activity. Accommodations for all other non-classroom related events are the responsibility of each sponsoring program or department. The best process for meeting the legal responsibilities of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is based on a “universal design,” which means the campus as a whole strives to make itself accessible. Students conduct business all over campus, working with various faculty and staff. With universal design, the entire campus, as it receives accommodation requests, becomes more knowledgeable, sensitive and “accessibility aware.”


  • How much do interpreters cost and how do they receive payment?

  • There are many interpreters that have filed paperwork through UC Santa Cruz’s Accounts Payable and are approved vendors. Rates vary from approximately $28-$50 an hour depending on experience, certification and whether the assignment is in the evening or on a weekend. Negotiate with the interpreter directly regarding their fees. Once the assignment is complete, the interpreter will send you an invoice. Contact your office’s business manager regarding your department’s process for paying expenditures. Note that some interpreters may charge for parking, mileage or travel time, may expect to be paid if there is less than 24-48 hours cancellation notice, and/or have other fees. Be sure to clarify expectations prior to hiring the interpreter for an assignment.


  • What is a team interpreter?

  • Most interpreters will expect to work with another interpreter (team) if the assignment is more than 1 hour. The team will switch positions approximately every 20 minutes. This is due to the intensity of the work and the risk of Repetitive Stress Injury. Be sure to check with the interpreter regarding their expectations for a team.


  • What do the different interpreter certifications mean? RID? NAD?

  • The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) both have a formal process to measure professional skill level. RID has both performance and written exams. NAD has a performance test. There are two main certifications for RID, Certificate of Interpretation (CI) and Certificate of Transliteration (CT). To be a top, master interpreter one must pass both the CI and CT, though passing one of them also denotes a highly skilled interpreter. CI tends to be somewhat more difficult to pass than CT. NAD has 3 levels of certification NAD 3, NAD 4, and NAD 5. An NAD 5 would be equivalent to RID certification.


  • What is ASL, PSE or SEE?

  • ASL stands for “American Sign Language,” PSE stands for “Pidgin Signed English” and SEE stands for “Signed Exact English.” ASL is a distinct language with a different syntax and grammar than English. Those who are “culturally” deaf and/or raised with sign language tend to use ASL. English is their second language. Other deaf may feel more comfortable using PSE or SEE. SEE is not a separate language; it is English (word order) expressed through signs. PSE is a cross between ASL and SEE. When a deaf student makes an interpreter request, determine which mode of communication they prefer and if they have any interpreters they do not want you to contact. On rare occasions, you may also have a deaf student who requests oral interpreting and needs an interpreter who can mouth the words clearly without signing.


  • What is Realtime Captioning?

  • Many deaf and hard of hearing students who do not know sign language use Realtime Captioning to access information. A Realtime Captioner is a highly skilled professional, often trained as a court reporter, who uses a Steno machine and a computer to type verbatim what is being said. The student follows the discussion by reading the live captioned dialogue on a computer screen.


  • How do I contact a deaf person on the phone?

  • You can call a deaf person (or s/he can call you) by using the California Relay Service (CRS). The operator at CRS will hear your words, type them into a TTY (telephone for the deaf) for the deaf person to read and in turn the operator will read the deaf person’s words to you. When you are done with a sentence(s), say, “go ahead” to the operator. Don’t talk until they are done reading back to you the deaf person’s response and say, “go ahead” to you. There is no additional charge for this relay service. The CRS number is 1-800-735-2922.