How to Book an Interpreter

Thank you for inquiring about how to secure a sign language interpreter. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III requires that an agency or facility providing services to the public must be accessible to consumers with disabilities.  In the event that your agency/facility will be serving consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing, you may need to obtain the services of a sign language interpreter. This information will allow you to do so easily and effectively through the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center's Community Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing.

Regular business hours: Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm, call 216-231-0787.

In the event of an emergency request outside of normal business hours, call 216-258-3520.


Who do we provide interpreters for?

24-Hour Sign Language Interpreting

We provide services for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.

The uppercase "D" refers to the population of people who share similar life experiences, a common culture and a common language: American Sign Language (ASL).

The lowercase "d" is used to refer to the audiological condition of hearing loss and is often used to describe individuals who are late-deafened (individuals who lose their hearing as teens or adults).

hard of hearing/hearing impaired:

These are terms used by some individuals who have a slight to moderate hearing loss or are late-deafened. 

Why is an interpreter needed?

Often a person is not completely deaf, as hearing loss can fall anywhere along the continuum from totally deaf to hearing. The amount of usable (or residual) hearing varies greatly from person to person. Depending upon the type of loss, the person may or may not benefit from the amplification that a hearing aid provides. Hearing aids only amplify sound; they do not make sound clearer. The severity of a person's hearing loss could be different at various frequencies. Therefore, the ability to hear different voices will vary depending on a number of factors, including the pitch of the voice. Also, it is important to note that the ability to hear a voice is different than the ability to discriminate between sounds and understand speech.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing, like people who are hearing, have different education levels. Knowledge of English grammar, syntax and spelling varies from individual to individual. A person who uses American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary language of communication may or may not be proficient in using Standard English. For the most part, English is an oral/aural language designed to be spoken and heard. Therefore, it is quite challenging to learn and understand English when you cannot hear, especially when it varies so greatly from the structure and syntax of ASL. The person who is not proficient in English is not stupid or illiterate; he or she just uses a different language to communicate.
For many people who speak sign language, American Sign Language (ASL) is the first language that they acquire and use. ASL is a recognized language with a unique syntax, grammar and structure. It is not a form of English.

When is an interpreter needed?

The need for an interpreter depends on the situation and the people involved. Interpreters can be described as a communication link. Interpreters facilitate communication between hearing and deaf individuals. It is the responsibility of an interpreter to relay communication between two or more parties via sign language and voice. Interpreters sign everything that is said and say everything that is signed. Per the Code of Ethics for Interpreters, the interpreter is not permitted to voice personal opinions or enter the conversation. Interpreters can be needed in a variety of settings and situations from preschool to graduate school and any level in between. An interpreter can be needed in settings as intimate as a private therapy session or as public as a televised address at a national political convention. An interpreter can be needed anywhere a deaf or hard-of-hearing person lives, works or plays.

Where are interpreters used?

  • Doctors offices 
  • Hospitals
  • Weddings
  • Court rooms
  • Police stations
  • Churches
  • Funerals
  • Employment offices
  • Airports
  • Retail stores
  • Law offices
  • Immigration office
  • Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Vocational guidance services
  • Schools grades K-12
  • Colleges
  • Conferences & conventions
  • Real estate offices
  • Car dealerships
  • Nursing homes
  • Home health care providers
  • Any place that employs a deaf individual

The function of the interpreter is to:

  • Allow more direct communication
  • Improve communication accuracy and avoid misunderstandings
  • Decrease frustrations
  • Raise the comfort level of those interacting
  • Facilitate more complete communication so that both individuals feel free to ask questions and offer more in-depth explanations
  • Save time
  • Make clear any nonverbal communication

Book an Interpreter

Who should call and request the interpreter?

Here at the Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, we accept the request only from the individual, agency or company responsible for payment of the interpreter. We cannot accept a request for an individual, agency or company and bill someone else for an interpreting service they have no knowledge of. 

Individuals should notify their employer, doctor, lawyer, event and other places of business they are attending of their need for an interpreter. Your request should be made as far in advance as possible, allowing them to time request the interpreter. You cannot expect an interpreter to be provided when the request is made at the last minute or if you do not have an appointment.