For Businesses


Who is Covered by Title III of the ADA? The Title III regulation covers —

  • Public accommodations (i.e., private entities that own, operate, lease, or lease to places of public accommodation),
  • Commercial facilities, and
  • Private entities that offer certain examinations and courses related to educational and occupational certification.

Please read Title III Highlights for more information about Title III responsibilities and requirements.

Please see the Resources>>ADA Rights/Legislation page for more helpful links.

General Practices

Never worked with a Deaf person or a Sign Language Interpreter before? Here is some helpful information about Standard Practices, what to expect, and how you can help the interpreting process be smooth and effective.

The Interpreter's Role

The Interpreter’s Role

  • A Sign Language Interpreter provides communication between deaf and hearing people. Interpreters are responsible for interpreting language into a culturally and linguistically appropriate equivalent. An interpreter is not an assistant or personal aid to any party involved in the interpreting situation. In some situations, an interpreter may play a dual-role (especially when interpreting for a deaf-blind person), but this does not outweigh their primary responsibility of providing effective communication.
  • Interpreters are professionally and ethically obligated to provide equal access to communication. This means they are obligated to say/sign everything that happens during the interpreting interaction, including side comments, phone conversations, etc. If you would not say or do something in front of a hearing client/patient/person, follow the same protocol for deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind clients/patients/persons.
  • Professional Interpreters adhere to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) Code of Professional Conduct.


The 7 Tenets of the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct:KCD Interpret

  1. Interpreters adhere to standards of confidential communication.
  2. Interpreters possess the professional skills and knowledge required for the specific interpreting situation.
  3. Interpreters conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the specific interpreting situation.
  4. Interpreters demonstrate respect for consumers.
  5. Interpreters demonstrate respect for colleagues, interns, and students of the profession.
  6. Interpreters maintain ethical business practices.
  7. Interpreters engage in professional development.

When you are the Speaker

  • Face the Deaf person and speak directly to him/her like you are talking to another hearing person. There is no need to speak to the interpreter to request communication, for example “Tell him/her that…”, “Ask him/her…”, etc.
  • Speak at a normal rate. Make sure your speech is clear and in a normal tone of voice. (No shouting. It does not help.)
  • Avoid walking between the Deaf person and the interpreter while communicating.
  • Be prepared to explain technical terms or jargon. There are no specialized signs for most technical terms and jargon, so the interpreter may spell the term and then explain it.
  • You might need to re-explain in different terms if the Deaf person or interpreter does not understand the first explanation. Remember, using an interpreter is about providing effective communication. Understanding is key.
  • Facial expressions are important in ASL in the same way that tone and volume are important to English.
  • There will be lag time between the speaker and the interpretation. Because of this lag time, responses or questions may be delayed. Pause to allow time for responses/questions.
  • Only ask one question at a time and wait for the response before continuing.
  • Use names/proper terms when talking about or indicating something specific. Vague terms such as “this”, “that”, “here”, etc. are easily missed or misunderstood. And because of lag time, the Deaf person will have missed whatever “it” was by the time the interpreter gets to that part.
  • Inform interpreter about any audio-visual equipment or technology that may be used.
  • If using a video, please check for appropriate captioning and inform the interpreter about the presence or absences of captions.

When you are in a Group Setting

  • Only ONE person speaking at a time. The interpreter can only follow and interpret for one speaker at a time.
  • Be sensitive about the Deaf person wanting to give input. Remember, because of the interpreting process, the Deaf person will be a few seconds behind the natural flow of the conversation. Thus, pauses for questions and comments need to be longer to allow time for the interpreter to finish relaying the message as well as time for the Deaf person to indicate a desire to speak.
  • If using visual aids, when indicating something specific on that aid, use a short pause before and after indication to allow the Deaf person time to look away from the interpreter to see the aid, then back at the interpreter to continue receiving the message. This may take some practice to remember to do mid-presentation. If you rehearse your presentation, practice using pauses before and after indications.
  • If using handouts or visual aids, allow time for all participants to review material before discussing it. A Deaf person cannot follow the interpreted conversation and read hand out materials at the same time.
  • Please, provide the interpreter with a copy of all handouts/materials, if at all possible. This helps the interpreter better understand what is being discussed and relay information more effectively.
  • Inform interpreter about any audio-visual equipment or technology that may be used.
  • If using a video, please check for appropriate captioning and inform the interpreter about the presence or absences of captions.

Room Set-up/Positioning

  • The interpreter needs to be across from the Deaf person and will likely be off to the side and slightly behind you. This allows for the clearest visual communication.
  • Inform interpreter about any audio-visual equipment or technology that may be used.
  • Good lighting is important for the Deaf person to see the interpreter and vice versa.
  • If unsure about interpreter seating arrangements, ask the Deaf person what he/she needs or prefers.

When more than 1 Interpreter is needed

It is common practice in the interpreting profession to work in teams of 2 or more. Many factors are considered when deciding if a team is appropriate. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  1. If the appointment is scheduled to last more than 1 hour
  2. If the appointment is expected or known to be complex/technical
  3. If the appointment is in lecture setting or will require continuous interpreting
  4. If the appointment is for a client with specific needs that require more than 1 interpreter

 Why is a team needed?

  • Teaming allows the interpreters to work in 20-30 minute intervals by switching roles. In teams of 2, there are 2 roles: an Active Interpreter (AI) and a Support Interpreter (SI).
    • The Active Interpreter is the one relaying the message to the Deaf person/s
    • The Support Interpreter is helping catch and correct errors the Active Interpreter may make, as well as listening to the message to help “feed” the AI should the AI miss or misunderstand part of the message.
  • Teaming helps reduce and prevent physical strain, repetitive strain injuries, and mental fatigue.
  • A hearing interpreter may sometimes work with a Deaf interpreter in particular situations if the Deaf person uses unique communication methods, the subject matter is intricate or sensitive, or have a variety communication deficits that may be difficult for a non-native signer to comprehend.


For more information about Team Interpreting, please click HERE to see RID’s Standard Practice Paper “Team Interpreting”

For more information about the use of Deaf interpreters or Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs), please click HERE see RID’s Standard Practice Paper “Use of a Certified Deaf Interpreter”



For more information about the Interpreting Profession’s Standard Practices, please click HERE to see the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID)’s collection of Standard Practice Papers.


We’d love to work with YOU!

Please, call us at 865-579-0832 (voice) if you have any questions or would like more information about any of the following:

  • Our Fee Schedule
  • How to request/schedule an interpreter
  • Understanding how disability legislation (e.g. the ADA) applies to your business/entity/group
  • Video Relay Interpreting Demonstrations