ASL Interpreter Referral Service


Is Sign Language Universal?

No, there are many different sign languages around the world, just as there are many spoken languages. However, in the United States, American Sign Language (ASL) is the predominant sign language used by individuals that sign.

Interestingly, there is not a formal sign for every word in the English language, so American Sign Language users often develop their own individual ways to communicate conceptual meanings. It’s important to distinguish that ASL does not follow the grammatical rules of standard English. For this reason, many Interpreters have often studied for years to become proficient enough to be recognized as a Certified Professional Interpreter.

Even among American signers, there are many variations on the syntactic style of the language. For example, American Sign Language (ASL), Signed Exact English (SEE), Manually Coded English (MCE), Pidgin Signed English (PSE), Tactile/Deaf-Blind Interpretation, Cued Speech, and Oral Transliteration all have their own distinctive methods for communication. Many Interpreters have a particular language(s) of expertise. Part of the scheduling process that ASL Interpreter Referral Service, Inc. uses involves finding out which method of communication the Deaf or Hard of Hearing person prefers. With this knowledge, we will then pair him/her with an Interpreter who is proficient in that style.

What is CART?

CART – which stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation – is a word-for-word speech-to-text captioning service. Everything that is said is "captioned" live for deaf and hard of hearing clients. It is best used in settings such as classrooms, churches, meetings, conferences, and even at some major league sports stadiums. The captioning may be on a small screen that can be read only by one person with hearing loss or the CART captions can be displayed on an overhead (for a small group), broadcast on a large screen, on the internet, through captioned telephones (CapTel), and broadcast via satellite.

The CART provider quickly types into a stenotype machine using machine shorthand, and the computer software translates that shorthand into realtime captions, matching the shorthand against what is in a specialized shorthand dictionary stored in the computer. The process is so fast that there is hardly any lag time between what is said and what the person with hearing loss is able to read. It benefits people who are late-deafened, oral deaf, hard of hearing, or who have cochlear implants.

Can I get an Interpreter or CART Captionist 24 hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week,
365 days-a year? How far in advance must I schedule services?
Yes, we provide services 24/7/365. In order to best serve you, we ask that requests be made with at least seventy-two (72) business hours advance notice. In this instance, “business hours” are between 9 AM and 5 PM Eastern Standard Time, Monday to Friday, excluding holidays. Please remember that we are able to take your phone call 24 hours a day to schedule a service or answer any questions. We do accept last-minute requests, and strive to fulfill all requests regardless of lead time, but cannot guarantee that we can fulfill last minute assignments.
Why do I have to provide these services? Is it required by law?

Under Titles I, II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employer of a person with a disability, state and local governments and places of public accommodations including schools, doctors, lawyers, banks, group hosting meetings, workshops or seminar open to the public regardless of fees charged must hire and pay for Interpreting or CART if required, by a Deaf or Hard of Hearing individual.
Federal Mandates Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 stipulates that public and private agencies receiving government support or monies are responsible for providing equal access to persons with disabilities. This means the provision of a qualified interpreter to insure appropriate communication to deaf and hard of hearing of hearing people.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became effective, January 26, 1992. As per Title II, Public Services/State & Local Governments are required to make their services accessible to deaf/hard of hearing persons. Some example include but are not limited to the Governor’s Office, State Legislators, State and City Parks, Airports and Bus Terminals, State and city Police Stations, School Systems, City and Township Governments and State and City Libraries. As per Title III, Public Accommodations including but not limited to doctor’s offices, hotel, movie theaters, restaurants, day care centers, banks, dentists office, museums and private schools may not discriminate against people with disabilities.

State Mandates N.J.S.A. 34: 1-69.7 et seq. mandates the use of interpreters certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf in "any case before any court or grand jury in which a hearing impaired person is…..a complaint, defendant, witness, supplicant, or hearing impaired parent of a juvenile; all stages in any proceeding of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature before any State agency, country or municipal governing body or agency in which a hearing impaired person is a principal party of interest; in any proceedings in which a hearing impaired person may be subject to confinement or criminal sanction or in any proceeding preliminary thereto, including a coroner’s inquest, and proceedings related to mental health commitments. When a hearing impaired person is arrested for an alleged violation of a criminal law, an interpreter shall be appointed prior to reading of Miranda warnings, interrogating or taking a statement from the hearing impaired person."
For more information about the Americans with Disabilities Act, please visit

Do I have to hire two (2) Interpreters if the assignment is over two (2) hours?
Unlike spoken languages, sign language interpreting adds a physical element. Studies have determined that assignments that are two (2) hours or more in duration may require a team of at least two (2) Interpreters to work in tandem to relieve the onset of fatigue and maintain quality. The Interpreters work as a team and split the functions of the interpreting process for more effective and consistent output. One interpreter works as the production interpreter (the person who is signing or voicing) and the other interpreter works as the process interpreter and feeds the production interpreter suggestions. Other variables, including the number of individuals with hearing loss in attendance and the varying linguistic needs of those individuals, may also influence the number of interpreters required.
What is a CDI and why might I need to hire one?

The Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) is a nationally certified interpreter who is deaf or hard of hearing. In addition to proficient communication skills and general interpreter training, the CDI has specialized training and/or experience in the use of gesture, mime, props, drawings and other tools to enhance communication. The CDI has knowledge and understanding of deafness, the Deaf community, and Deaf culture. The CDI possesses native or near-native fluency in American Sign Language.

A Certified Deaf Interpreter may be needed when the communication mode of a deaf consumer is so unique that it cannot be adequately accessed by interpreters who are hearing. Some such situations may involve individuals who:

  • use idiosyncratic non-standard signs or gestures such as those commonly
    referred to as “home signs” which are unique to a family
  • use a foreign sign language
  • have minimal or limited communication skills
  • are deaf-blind or deaf with limited vision
  • use signs particular to a given region, ethnic or age group
  • have characteristics reflective of Deaf Culture not familiar to hearing interpreters.
Are the Interpreters and CART Captionists certified?

Yes, we understand that the Interpreters and CART Captionists we provide have to be the best available. Most of our Interpreters are certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and/or Educational Interpreters Performance Assessment (EIPA). Most of the CART Captionists we hire are certified by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) in either the Certified CART Provider Program (CCP) or the Registered Professional Reporter Program (RPR). If you have any questions regarding the certification and/or qualifications of an Interpreter or CART Captionist, please call us at 800-275-7551.

Do Interpreters and CART Captionists follow a Code of Ethics?

As part of their certification process, Interpreters certified by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) are bound by a Code of Ethics. Please visit to learn more about the organization and its Code of Ethics guidelines.

Cart Captionists, certified by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), are bound by a similar Code of Ethics as well. Please visit to learn more about the organization and its Code of Ethics guidelines.

How much do these services cost and what are your policies?
Please contact us for details at (800) 275-7551. We look forward to working with you to provide the best communication solution for your situation.


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ASL Interpreter Referral Service, Inc. | 21 Clyde Road, Suite 103, Somerset, NJ 08873 | 800-275-7551 | Email | Interpreter Login
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