Questions about your responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
Contact the Department of Justice ADA Information Hotline: 800-514-0301 or visit their website at


The role of an interpreter is to facilitate effective communication between Deaf or Hard of Hearing individuals and hearing people, without bias and without altering the intended message.

Professional interpreters adhere to a code of ethics established by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

In short, no. All interpreters are not the same. Factors such as education, signing style, experience, knowledge of Deaf Culture, skill level and ability to match the communication style of the Deaf consumer all affect an interpreter’s ability to effectively facilitate communication.

The ADA requires that people with disabilities have equal access to all communication. This means that all communication must be as clear and understandable to people with disabilities as it is for people who do not have disabilities.

According to the Department of Justice ADA Toolkit:

“The individual with a disability is in the best position to determine what type of aid or service will be effective.” In order to be considered qualified under the ADA, “… an interpreter must be able to convey communications effectively, accurately, and impartially, and use any necessary specialized vocabulary.”

Typically, family members and friends do not have the necessary skill level to provide effective and accurate interpretation in professional settings.

Regardless of skill level, family members and friends are certainly not able to meet the requirement of impartiality. As someone who is close to the Deaf person and possibly emotionally involved in the situation to be interpreted, they may alter the message, withhold information, or interject their own opinion.

A family member or friend of a Deaf person who accompanies that Deaf person to a medical appointment is there as a support person, just as a hearing person might bring along someone close to them to provide support. It is not appropriate to ask that support person to also interpret because that interferes with their ability to participate in the conversation, ask questions and provide the support needed by the Deaf person.

No. A common myth is that anyone who knows some sign language can interpret. A “signer” is someone who may know enough sign language to have a basic conversation, yet lacks the professional training and skills to provide effective and equal communication access required by law.


C-Print Captioning is a rapidly growing communication option for people who have a hearing loss but who do not use sign language to communicate. It utilizes computers and a specialized text abbreviation software that was developed by the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, New York.

The C-Print captionist transcribes spoken information onto a laptop computer that is linked to a second laptop computer or other display device. The text appears on the consumer’s display screen almost simultaneously. C-Print Captioning has traditionally been used in educational settings, where students find the messaging, highlighting and note-taking features very useful. C-Print is also a very effective communication tool in other settings such as counseling sessions, job interviews, medical and dental offices, business meetings, workshops, etc.

C-Print captionists are professionally trained through National Technical Institute of the Deaf and, like our interpreters, they are HIPAA and FERPA compliant and they follow a professional code of ethics.

C-Print utilizes a laptop computer and provides a meaning-for-meaning transcription, whereas CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) utilizes a stenograph machine along with a laptop computer to provide a verbatim transcription.

C-Print’s advanced features, versatility and affordability make it the most viable communication option for people with hearing loss as well as individuals with visual impairments and other disabilities.