How can I find a sign language interpreter for a court hearing?

The Washington courts are currently collaborating with the DSHS Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing to develop a list of court sign language interpreters. In the meantime, a very useful resource is the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, as this national organization is charged with certifying all sign language interpreters. Using their search page, begin by using categories such as state and area code to find interpreters in your area. There are many different certifications for sign language interpreters, as you'll see in the list of "Certificates." The best match for court interpreting is "SC:L" which means "Specialist Certificate: Legal." Interpreters with this certification are specifically trained and tested for all levels of court proceedings. If no SC:L interpreters are available, consider contacting interpreters with generalist certificates such as NIC (any level), CI/CT, CSC, NAD IV, or NAD V. Please note - many interpreters with these certifications work in other fields and not necessarily legal interpreting. If you still can't find an interpreter, please contact as she can assist you in finding an interpreter.

When receiving a request for a sign language interpreter, it's extremely helpful to find out the deaf person's name and any specific information about their communication needs. Not all deaf persons communicate in American Sign Language, and matching the communication needs of a deaf person with the right interpreter can sometimes be tricky. The more information you have up front, the easier it will be to make the appropriate match.

It is highly recommended that payment terms are agreed upon prior to the hearing. The state has no standard payment policy. However, sign language court interpreters typically charge $75/hr, and a two-hour minimum even if their services are used for less time. If you need interpretation for a trial or long hearing that will last more than two hours, it is highly recommended to hire two interpreters. Interpretation requires intense concentration and focus, and accuracy severely diminishes the longer an interpreter interprets. Having a team of two interpreters who switch off every twenty minutes will help to guarantee accuracy. For more information on interpreting, please see our information on Inside Courts.

RN id: 2149