Interpreting Services

Interpreting Services

Here is the definition of and resources for various types of interpretation.

The Role of the Interpreter

  • provide an oral translation or sign language translation between speakers who speak different languages.
  • Interpret the message accurately.
  • Convey the feelings of the speaker.
  • Maintain impartiality and confidentiality.

Simple guidelines for hiring and working with Interpreters

Explanation of National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Certification:
The certificates described below are an indication that the interpreter was assessed by a group of professional peers according to a nationally recognized standard of minimum competence. The individual’s performance was deemed to meet or exceed this national standard.

NIC (National Interpreter Certification)
Individuals achieving certification at the NIC, NIC Advanced or NIC Master level are all professionally certified interpreters.

CI (Certificate of Interpretation)
Holders of this certificate are recognized as fully certified in Interpretation and have demonstrated the ability to interpret between American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English in both sign-to-voice and voice-to-sign.

CT (Certificate of Transliteration)
Holders of this certificate are recognized as fully certified in Transliteration and have demonstrated the ability to transliterate between English-based sign language and spoken English in both sign-to-voice and voice-to-sign.

CI and CT (Certificate of Interpretation and Certificate of Transliteration)
Holders of both full certificates (as listed above) have demonstrated competence in both interpretation and transliteration and have the same flexibility of job acceptance as holders of the CSC listed below.

CSC (Comprehensive Skills Certificate)
Holders of this full certificate have demonstrated the ability to interpret between American Sign Language and spoken English and to transliterate between spoken English and a English-based sign language. This test is no longer offered.

SC:L (Specialist Certificate: Legal)
Holders of this specialist certificate have demonstrated specialized knowledge of legal settings and greater familiarity with language used in the legal system. Generalist certification and documented training and experience is required prior to sitting for this exam. This test is currently available.

IC/TC (Interpretation Certificate/Transliteration Certificate)
Holders of this partial certificate demonstrated ability to transliterate between English and a signed code for English and the ability to interpret between American Sign Language and spoken English. This test is equivalent to one step below a CSC. The IC/TC is no longer offered.

CDI (Certified Deaf Interpreter)
Holders of this certificate are Deaf or hard of hearing themselves and work in tandem with a hearing interpreter. A CDI may be needed when the communication mode of the deaf consumer is so unique that it cannot be adequately accessed by interpreters who are hearing.

In addition to these national certification categories several states offer their own screening certificates which will demonstrate a level of competence satisfactory for accepting work until such time as national certification is achieved.

Overview of Registry  of Interpreters for the Deaf  (RID)  Certification – RID plays a leading role in establishing a national standard of quality for interpreters.

Medical Interpreting Services

Medical Training Program

  • CultureSmart – Our interpreter program trainers are also practicing medical interpreters and therefore can relate to their bilingual participants.
  • Massachusetts Medical Interpreter Training –  Massachusetts Medical Interpreter Training, a program of the MassAHEC Network at UMass Medical School, has a dual purpose. In addition to helping health care institutions ensure clearer communication between staff and patients with limited English-language skills, we offer career advancement opportunities for people with multilingual skills.
  • Massasoit Community College –  This 60-hour program provides working knowledge of medical interpreting, including standards of practice, ethics, HIPAA regulations, cultural competency, and medical terminology/vocabulary. Open to all languages, students must be fully bilingual and must be fluent in English and one other language.
  • Bunker Hill Community College  –  This program is offered on the Chelsea Campus as a part-time evening program each fall semester.
  • MassBay Community College –  The course listed below is non-credit. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a certificate of completion from the college.

Massachusetts General Hospital  Working with an Interpreter – Guidelines for Partnering with Medical Interpreters

MGH: Patient’s Rights in Requestiing an Iterpreter
MGH: Working With An Interpreter (pdf)
MGH: Becoming An Interpreter

Educational Interpreter Services

Each school district is required to provide an interpreter.

A Parent’s Guide to Special Education – Available in several different formats and three languages: English (pdf), Spanish (pdf), and Portuguese (pdf).

IEP Translated Forms and Glossaries –  Massachusetts Department of Education has Individualized Education Program (IEP) forms and the Parents’ Rights Brochure have been translated into sixteen languages. A glossary corresponds to each language translating common education terms.

IDEA Regulations Regarding Native Language and Limited English Proficiency Issues

300.29 Native Language
300.345 Parent Participation
300.324 Development, review and revision of IEP
300.500 General responsibility of public agencies; definitions

Parent’s Notice of Procedural Safeguards –  Massachusetts’s Department of Education. Translated in nine languages.

Interpreting Resources

If an individual or an agency is in need of interpreting services for American Sign Language (ASL), Signed English transliteration, spoken English, oral, tactile and close vision interpreting for Deaf and Deaf – Blind individuals, or CART services on behalf of hard of hearing and/or late deafened individuals in a wide variety of settings such as medical, legal, mental health, employment, education and recreational situations in Massachusetts, he/she can contact the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) at 617-740-1600 (Voice) or 617-740-1700 (TTY) or Toll-free voice:1-800-882-1155 Toll-free TTY: 1-800-530-7570. Although there are fulltime staff interpreters employed by MCDHH, the majority of requests are filled by freelance interpreters. All CART requests are filled by freelance CART Providers. For more information in Massachusetts for CART: Statewide Interpreter and CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) Referral Service

If you require ASL interpreting services in Rhode Island, services can be requested by contacting the Rhode Island Commission for the Deaf Interpreter Referral Service at 401- 222- 5300 (V) or 401- 222- 5301 (TTY).

For referral services in New Hampshire for ASL-English interpreters: Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, Inc (NDHHS)~ Communication Access Service: 603-224-1850 ext 250 (V), by videophone 603-968-5891, or by email:

ASL Interpreters and CART providers are professionals and are paid for their services. Several laws (ADA, Section 508 of the Rehab Act, etc.) require agencies to make services and programs accessible (in most cases, at no cost to the consumer).

Over-the-phone Interpretation

Language Line Solutions

This over-the-phone interpretation service is used by some of our Information and Referral  agencies.

In over-the-phone interpretation, Language Line Services interpreters listen to your limited English speaking (LEP) customer, analyze the message and accurately convey its original meaning to you or your staff member. It provides a quick and easy way for an organization to provide service to customers, clients or patients who speak limited English. Language Line provides interpretation from English into more than 240+ languages, 24 hours a day.

Professionally trained and tested Language Line Services interpreters do not interpret word-for-word, but meaning-for-meaning. This is why non-English conversations can seem to take longer. Many English concepts that are communicated in one or two words can take several phrases to accurately describe in another language.

Language Line Services is also the only telephonic interpretation provider that offers Certified Medical Interpreters in more than 20 languages.

Some small towns or unpopulated states use this in their court system with speaker phones. It saves money on mileage, travel hours and cost for an actual interpretation.

The Massachusetts Trial Court has a contract with The Language Line. This is used when there isn’t an interpreter available for the language needed. The language line may be used for intake interviews at the probation department, for arraignments or other simple proceedings.

Customer Service: 1-800-752-6096

Additional Over-the-phone Interpretation Links:

Certified Languages International -Telephone and video interpreters.


New World Language Services

Language Scientific, Inc. – Technical & Medical Translation

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services

Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH)
Requests for ASL interpreters are made either directly by Deaf, Deaf-Blind, late deafened, hard of hearing and hearing individuals and/or agencies, organizations, schools, employers, businesses, doctors, hospitals, police departments, and courts.

MCDHH Interpreter Service
600 Washington Street,
Boston, MA 02111
617-740-1600 (Voice)
617-740-1700 (TTY)
800-882-1155 (Toll Free TTY)
617-740-1880 (Fax)  with a interpreter/CART Request Form
Emergency: Legal emergencies are received 24 hours 7 days/week at 800-249-9949 TTY/VOICE.
Hours: 8:45 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday – Friday

How to Request an ASL Interpreter or CART provider


PEPNet-Northeast Tip Sheets available for free download

  • Interpreting & Biomechanics
  • Hiring a Qualified Interpreter
  • Math Signs
  • Oral Translation

Some of the Tip Sheets are available in Spanish


Fact Sheet last updated on: 6/24/2020