Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How much advance notice do you need to arrange an interpreter?

A: SMIS does not have a requirement as to when requests will be accepted. The sooner a request is received, the more likely your request will be filled with a qualified interpreter. We understand there are times when advanced notice cannot be given, and we do our best to fill those last minute requests as well.

Q: Why do you have a two hour minimum?

A: SMIS subcontracts with independent contractors for all interpreting assignments. A two-hour minimum is an industry standard when working with Independent Contractors. Interpreters work several places in one day and much of their time is spent driving from one location to another. The two-hour minimum charge helps to compensate for their travel to and from assignments.

Q: I requested one interpreter for our event. Why are you sending two?

A: When the sign interpreting profession was in its youth, interpreters often interpreted alone for long periods of time. These working conditions caused interpreters to develop various forms of repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome. Suddenly, many interpreters were unable to work due to injury. This forced the interpreting field to re-examine working conditions. The industry standard became team interpreting for anything longer than 1 to 1.5 hours of continuous interpreting. The potential for occupational injury obliges us to determine when the services of two interpreters will be necessary. Team interpreting allows the interpreter to take physical breaks although they are still working by supporting their team in providing accurate interpretation.

In addition to the daily physical wear and tear of interpreting on the body, the mental process of interpreting is complex and taxing. It is well documented that the accuracy of interpreting diminishes as interpreting continues without breaks.

Q: Are there exceptions to sending two interpreters?

A: Yes, there are a few exceptions to sending two interpreters: one-on-one meetings, job interviews, job fairs, public booths, lecture/lab trainings, or assignments where appropriate breaks are given. Some K-12 assignments and community training sessions are not teamed as teachers and instructors tend to lecture then give down time for students and participants to complete class or lab work. However, if there are core classes back to back, lengthy lectures, scheduled presentations, or continuous interpreting without breaks, a team of interpreters will be necessary.

Q: Is there a charge for late cancellations?

A: Yes, cancellation of assignments without the required notice will be charged for the scheduled time. The interpreters that work through SMIS are all independent contractors and it is standard practice in the field that they bill for late cancellations and no-shows. When cancellations are received with the required notice, no charges will incur. Cancellations with notice allow the interpreters to locate other work.

Q: Do you charge mileage or travel?

A: Mileage for each assignment will be charged on a roundtrip basis at the current Federal Government reimbursement rate per mile (Based on point of origin). SMIS makes every attempt to schedule local interpreters for assignments, but due to the high demand for services and short supply of qualified interpreters, we are not always able to do so.

Q: Can I be sued for not providing an interpreter?

A: Yes. There are state and federal laws mandating the provision of sign language interpreters. One of these laws, the Americans with Disabilities ACT “ADA” requires interpreting in certain cases as a way to provide access to your services to people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Many businesses install ramps and accessible restrooms because of ADA regulations. Interpreting services are mandated in some cases under this same statute.