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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Interpreter?
An American Sign Language (ASL)/English Interpreter is a trained, credentialed professional who:

  • Is fluent in American Sign Language and English.

  • Translates between two languages: ASL and English.

  • Is knowledgeable of cultural norms and values held by Deaf people and those of mainstream American culture.

  • Is formally trained to successfully mediate between these two languages and cultures.

  • Holds credentials from a state- or national-level certifying agency.

  • Works within the guidelines of professional, ethical conduct as established by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

What is Interpreting?
Interpreting is essentially a tri-step process of receiving a message in one language, grasping its meaning and intent, and delivering it into another language. This is a simple definition of a complex process which requires a high degree of linguistic, cognitive, cultural and technical skills.

When is an interpreter needed?
A qualified interpreter is needed in interactions between Deaf, Hard of Hearing and non-Deaf (“hearing”) people where effective communication is the goal. Basically anytime communication is necessary between people who do not share a common language and culture a professional interpreter should be utilized.

Interpreters interpret for a variety of settings including, but not limited to; staff meetings, medical appointments, job interviews, board meetings, educational classes, weddings, funerals and many other situations where Deaf and hearing people interact.

Some situations require the use of a certified deaf interpreter [CDI]. A CDI is a deaf person who is trained as an interpreter and usually works with an ASL/English interpreter. There are several factors that go into the decision as to whether or not a CDI is required.

Who pays for an interpreter?
Federal and state laws mandate that private and public organizations, businesses, and other entities are responsible for providing reasonable accommodations for Deaf and disabled persons in order to have equal access to services and programs. Hospitals, public and private employers, school districts, private businesses, public facilities, courts, among many others are examples of entities responsible for the cost of such reasonable accommodations.

What requirements are there for interpreters in NH?
In order to work as an interpreter in the State of NH you must be licensed with the State of NH. Information on how to become licensed can be found at the State of NH-Vocational Rehabilitation web page In order to apply for your NH Interpreter license you must either be nationally certified or state screened.

How do I become certified?
The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), a national organization advocating for the signed language interpreting profession, has developed a nationally accepted certification system. To be certified, interpreters must meet a minimum requirement of training, successfully complete an initial written examination, and pass a performance/interview evaluation.

For more information, please visit RID’s website at

How can I get NH state-screened?
The state of NH offers a NH state screening test for interpreters. The NH screening exam consists of a live interview and performance evaluation. For more info, please contact the State of NH – Department of Vocational Rehabilitation at 603-271-3877.

Where can I get training to become an interpreter?
There are a number of interpreter training programs in New England. These offer courses and degrees geared towards preparing the interpreter for professional interpreting and National Certification. Locally, the interpreter training program at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester (UNH-M) is currently offering a variety of course work as well as a BS degree in Sign Language Interpretation.

Programs elsewhere in New England can be found at:

Northeastern University in Boston, MA
Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, MA
University of Southern Maine in Portland, ME

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