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On-Site Frequently Asked Questions

Q: A deaf person asked us to get a sign language interpreter. I’ve never had to do that. What do I do?
A: Breathe! We are here to help. Hiring a sign language interpreter is quite simple. You can call us, email us or use our secure web request form. When we receive your request, we will send you an email confirmation to let you know that your interpreter is set up. We’ll even tell you who your interpreter is and you can click on the link in the confirmation to see what your interpreter looks like so you’ll know who to expect.

Q: Why do we need an interpreter?
A: A federal law called Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that public and private entities/companies/agencies and all businesses with 15+ employees must be accessible to the public. The public can include people of varying abilities and disabilities. So if your company/agency/business is open to people without disabilities, then you must also be open to people with disabilities. Accessibility for a deaf person means that they are able to equally communicate with the people that work in your company/agency/business. For a deaf person to equally communicate, they may request that you provide a sign language interpreter.

Q. Somebody said we are responsible for paying for interpreting services. We don’t have the money for that!
A: We understand that it can be a shock when a company/agency/business finds out they are financially responsible to pay for interpreting services. We hear this often and we understand that a bill for interpreting services catches people off guard. The best way to solve this unexpected cost is to make accessibility a line item in your budget every year. By doing this, over the course of a year, this “cost of doing business” isn’t so overwhelming.

Q: What if we just tell the deaf person that we aren’t going to do that?
A: We are not attorneys so we cannot provide legal counsel. We strongly suggest that you speak with your corporate attorney. What we do know is that should your business not comply with providing equal access to communication for a deaf individual, your company may be breaking a federal law and could suffer serious penalties. We want our customers to know that in the long run, it is wise to provide a professional sign language interpreter when a deaf person/customer/client requests one. Disability discrimination cases are expensive to defend. The dollar signs attached to punitive damages can be significant. Let us assist in keeping your company/agency/business in compliance with federal law.

Q: Can’t we have one of our staff or employees that knows some sign language help out?
A: We do not advise this cost saving measure. First and foremost, your staff/employee may know “some” sign language (aka a “signer”) but can they read and understand sign language when a deaf person signs? Often they cannot.  It is unfair for a co-worker or someone responsible for other tasks at your company to be put in the position of interpreting for and being responsible for the communication access of a deaf co-worker or deaf customer.  Finally, quality, accuracy, and/or confidentiality are not guaranteed when a co-worker or colleague is used as an interpreter. Can your company risk an inaccurate interpretation performed by unskilled signers? Is your company prepared to deal with the extensive damage caused due to interpretations rendered by a unprofessional?

Q. Surely it’s not that difficult. Isn’t sign language just English on the hands?
Interpreting is a complex task that requires more than just knowing some sign language. Imagine processing two languages at the same time. An interpreter hears what you say in spoken English and then interprets into a second language, American Sign Language, exactly what you said. Our interpreters have studied American Sign Language for a minimum of 4 years not to mention two additional years of sign language interpreter training to get them ready to interpret for a meeting, medical appointment, employee training, conference, legal counsel, and the like.

Q: How much do you charge?
A: If you call us, we will provide to you our base rate for the service you request. Our base rate is per hour plus a portal and mileage charge. Our rates are detailed in the VCI Terms of Services Agreement. When you call or email VCI, we will ask you for your email address so that we can send you this document. We want you to have all the information needed so you or for your boss/supervisor/manager to make a decision about working with VCI.

Q. We were told we need a team of two interpreters. Why TWO interpreters?
A: Imagine mentally processing two languages at the same time. We call that simultaneous interpreting. It is very different than you may have seen with a spoken/foreign language interpreter. Spoken language interpreters listen first, then interpret into a second language. Sign language interpreters listen to what is spoken and renders that message into a second language at the same time. In addition, sign language interpreters visually read what a deaf person is signing and renders a spoken English interpretation simultaneously. Talk about a mentally and physically taxing activity. Physically sign language interpreters suffer repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel, rotator cuff, golfer/tennis elbow, shoulder tension. Mentally, research shows that an interpreter has the ability to mentally process a message and interpret it accurately for approximately 20 – 30 minutes before errors begin to show up in the interpretation. This is never a good thing. We want to ensure that the message interpreted at your location is accurate for the duration of the assignment.

Q. We don’t think we need to make our event accessible!
A:  Choosing not to make your event accessible means that you are missing out on potential event registrants/participants.  There is a section of the population that will not have the privilege to enjoy what your event has to offer.  Did you know there are 50 million deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the United States?  Lack of accessibility/barriers is part of their every day life but barriers are easily removed by providing full and equal access to aural information via highly competent, professional sign language interpreters.

Q. We simply don’t have a budget to make our site accessible.
A:   Every organization should have a budget line item set aside for communication access.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that mandates communication access for deaf and hard-of-hearing people so the excuse that an organization/company doesn’t have a budget to cover communication access expenses doesn’t hold water when it comes to compliance.  If your organization is really in a bind but you have a deaf or hard-of-hearing person attending, then a great option is to seek out a sponsor to cover the expense.  Why not offer the opportunity for a sponsor to step-up and receive the lime-light as the communication access sponsor.  This is done on TV all the time.  You’ve seen/heard it, “Closed Captioning provided by (fill in the blank)”.  Ask.  You may be surprised at how many companies are willing to say Yes to Access!

Q. Okay, I’m convinced that a professional interpreter is the way to go. What do I do next?
A: Give us a call or shoot over an email to our scheduling department. They will ask for your email address and our CEO will send over a document that details our prices, minimums, cancellation policy, request policy, and payment expectations. We want you to have all necessary information before making your decision or to have the information in hand to show your manager/boss/supervisor for approval.  If you are hosting a huge event and need more in depth consultation, contact a professional, accessibility consultant such as Svetlana Kouznetsova with Audio Accessibility.

Q. Does signing the “Terms of Services Agreement” obligate me to schedule a VCI interpreter for an appointment?
A: No. Signing the terms of services agreement does not obligate you to call VCI for a current or future appointment. Signing the agreement allows us to create a customer file for you in our system. Then, if you decide to schedule at some point, we are ready with everything we need. We know you have options. We hope you’ll choose VCI.

Q: Do I need to return the signed “Terms of Services Agreement” to VCI before the service date?
A: Yes. VCI needs to have your signed “Terms of Services Agreement” on file prior to the date for which you are requesting services.

Q: Does VCI require customers to sign a new “Terms of Services Agreement” every year?
A: No. You only need to sign the “Terms of Services Agreement” when you first become a customer. We do not require customers to sign new paperwork every year.  Terms and prices are subject to change annually.