top of page

Medical Interpreting



How do I secure an interpreter for my Deaf patient? 


That is a simple process! Contact our office and provide us with a few specifics about your needs and the patient's needs and we will do our best to secure an interpreter for that appointment. 


Are all interpreting agencies the same? 


NO! Many medical offices use national language service lines they find on the internet to provide Sign Language Interpreters locally. The problem? 


a) There is no oversight so you don't know if you are receiving a competent interpreter.


b) They find their interpreters through national email blasts. They have no relationship with the local interpreters found. If a problem arises they have no recourse.


c) National or out of area language providers cannot guarantee that the interpreters will arrive at the appointment. 


d) National or out of area language providers usually have no expertise in providing services for the Deaf. 


e) Often national and out of area providers accept last minute requests with no staff established or available and are still email blasting local interpreters off of databases minutes before an appointment is supposed to begin. Often they cannot fill the appointment, and don't inform the requestor. You simply are stuck with a Deaf patient and no interpreter. 


ALWAYS request interpreting services from a local brick and mortar company. 


Am I required to provide an interpreter for my Deaf patients when one is requested? 


Yes. For more information about your legal requirements, CLICK HERE


Additional questions and answers for physicians regarding the ADA:



Is there reimbursement for the cost of medical interpreting services for Deaf patients? 


Yes, in part. For more answers about Medicaid reimbursement,



Some insurance companies like Amerigroup pay for an interpreter in full, others reimburse around 30% of the costs. 

Interested in the Codes? CLICK HERE


What are the ACA guidelines for Sign Language Interpreters?  


For more information: CLICK HERE 


Additional information can be found HERE.


Medical practitioners are required to have an interpreter information on file. Feel free to contact our office and we will send you a magnet as a reminder of our available medical interpreting services.


What are the HIPAA requirements for interpreters?


For more information: CLICK HERE


Do interpreters really make a difference? 


YES! Many doctors believe they can get their point across through writing notes, but many Deaf individuals are LEP patients (Limited English Proficiency) and writing notes leaves limited comprehension. Doctors will often supplement these notes with hand gestures which seem logical. What they don't know is gestures which might seem intuitive have a very different meaning in sign language. For example, a doctor might hold up a handshape to represent a 3 to a deaf individual followed by pantomiming the ingesting of a pill, indicating that medicine should be taken 3 times a day. What that doctor did not know is that gesture in ASL means either 6 or 9. The doctor inadvertently told the Deaf patient to take the medication 6 or 9 times a day instead of 3. Obviously, that well intended gesture can have dire consequences. This is the reason a qualified interpreter is critical. 


Are there online interpreters for the Deaf?  


There are some companies which will provide interpreting services for Deaf patients via the internet. It is definitely NOT a replacement for live services and should only be used in rural areas or in emergencies when no onsite interpreting can be found. Live interpreters have an easier time negotiating the environment and can manage patient interaction far more effectively than interpreters on a video screen at a distance. It's more awkward for the patient and for the doctor and in some medical environments is even impossible to use.  In addition, it has risks. Video equipment often cannot be managed in an emergency or in transit and of course equipment can and will malfunction. We do not reccommend online interpreting services for medical appointments when avoidable. 


Is it acceptable to have a family member interpret? 


We don't suggest family members serving as interpreters as it presents undue liability issues, potential harm to the patient, and could easily place undue emotional strain on the family member providing the interpreting services.


Is there a place to receive extra training? 


YES! Our office is happy to provide training to your staff regarding how to work with Deaf patients. 





Call us at 615-435-8929  



1) Look Deaf people directly in the face. 


2) Speak to them not their interpreter, even if they are looking at their interpreter. 


3) Understand there are all types of Deaf people. Some need additional assistance outside of just the provision of an interpreter for comprehension. If you have a patient who is somewhat confused by an explanation, use charts and graphs or drawings to get your point across. 


4) You don't need to shout with Sign Language users. Patients using Sign Language have all they need through an interpreter. Speaking louder to elderly hard of hearing patients or oral deaf individuals (individuals using speech not Sign Language for communication) can sometimes prove helpful. 



Deaf Med Student in the ER

bottom of page