What Makes a Good ASL Interpreter?

Across the United States, there are millions of people who have difficulty hearing. Of these, it is believed that over half a million are deaf. 

Although the past few decades have seen a great deal of improvement in the provision of support for people who are Deaf/Hard-of-hearing, it should come as no surprise to learn that the community still faces plenty of challenges on a daily basis. 

For businesses, schools and other organizations who intend to be inclusive, it is important to be able to respond to those challenges.

Statistics show that, among the Deaf community, approximately 500,000 use American Sign Language (ASL), making it one of the premier means of communicating with people who cannot hear, or whose hearing is affected to a significant level. 

If your organization is to offer an appropriate level of support to people with hearing loss, it will be beneficial to hire an ASL interpreter who can help you effectively communicate. When choosing an interpreter, it is important to consider a variety of qualifications. The following are the most essential considerations to take into account when hiring an ASL interpreter. 


Although not everyone who uses ASL is qualified to interpret.ny business looking for an interpreter should seek to confirm that the person they hire has a certification of some type (RID, EIPA, ESSE), formal training, or has otherwise verified qualifications

Only by making this a requirement can you be sure of getting someone whose knowledge of the language has been independently verified, and who certainly understands and can communicate in ASL. This is the best way to satisfy legal requirements set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ada.gov).

When you are hiring on behalf of an organization, you can’t afford to hire an enthusiastic amateur. A qualified  expert is a non-negotiable requirement.


It is one thing to academically “know” a subject, and quite another to be able to put it into practice. Someone who performed well in high school French may very well struggle when placed in the center of Paris and expected to find their way around. 

When working to ensure that a Deaf or Hard-of-hearing individual gets the level of assistance that they require, it is all the more important to ensure that the person interpreting for them has at least several months or years of professional experience. 

Sometimes, the communication they seek is urgent, and such situations require the dexterity and adaptability of a seasoned ASL interpreter.

Special Skills

A skilled interpreter will be able to interpret in a wide variety of settings. Your business or organization may require specialized knowledge or technical vocabulary, however. Sometimes there are not standard signs for these terms in American Sign Language and the word must be spelled out or “fingerspelled.”

When settings such as legal, medical, technical, educational, or trilingual, require specialized knowledge or training, an interpreting agency can be an integral partner.  An agency can match the right individuals from their large pool of skilled and trained interpreters to your situation.  


The qualifications, expertise and experience of an interpreter are all matters of vital importance, but it is additionally important to find someone who is a good fit for your organizational ethos and the nature of your business. 

For example, an interpreter who will be working on behalf of a hospital may have to spend some time communicating bad news to families, and will need to be able to do so with the required gravitas. 

Equally, someone communicating legal information will need to bring absolute precision to their communications. For someone who may be working primarily on video calls, the ability to be expressive enough that they are understood on a small screen is important.

Trustworthy Organization

To ensure you get the right person for the job, it is imperative to work with an organization that devotes its time and effort to finding people who will fit each and every time. 

Do your research to find local ASL interpretation services that will provide you and your customers with the very best communication experience.