So You Want To Open Your Own Sign Language Interpreting Agency

Just think… could go to the mall and drink coffee and meet friends for lunch and take naps in the afternoon ALL while other people are working for you!
So how hard could it be?
Ahhhhh……sit back and relax while we reminisce over the past 4 hours…..
The following names have been changed to protect…….well…….us.
Dick – the company requesting the interpreting services
Jane – the Deaf person
Sally – the Sign Language Interpreter
Dick calls and knows nothing about the Deaf community or interpreting services. This is all new territory for him. He assumes that Interpreters are volunteers or at least work for minimum wage. He is appalled at the actual cost AND that he has to pay for 2 hours of time when he only needs Sally for half an hour. Dick says they will just rely on writing back and forth with the Deaf person (Jane). We, once again, advise Dick of the ADA and their requirements and the LAW. He still doesn’t understand why HE has to pay and says he’ll call back.

Dick always calls back.

We ask all the pertinent questions so that we can determine the “best fit” Interpreter for Jane. Knowing the best way to reach Sally, we contact her and “Yay!” she’s available!
We call Dick to let him know who to expect. Well done!
Sally needs all the details regarding where she’s going, where to park, the length of the job, the type of job, the contact’s name, the Deaf person’s name….
But wait! Dick calls back and tells us that Jane is British and has requested BSL. And we begin again……..
Dick later calls for a new “Jane” and needs a team of Interpreters. Dick doesn’t understand the need for a team. It’s only for six hours. Most people work for eight hours. What’s the big deal?
We educate Dick on the physical and mental stress placed on Interpreters as they work for that length of time. He finally agrees and we start arranging the “Team”. We’ve got three Interpreters on board and are booking the final Interpreter when Interpreter number two calls and says he just cannot work with Sally. Their discord goes way back and we will just have to choose. Negotiations begin……
Dick calls again and says he provided Sally’s name to Jane. Jane has used Sally’s services before and doesn’t care for her. We know Jane. Jane has used our agency and several others. She is never satisfied with her Interpreter. We tell Dick that we will try to find another Sally, but we know Jane will not be happy. Jane has written complaints about everybody. Sally is never qualified enough, certified enough or Deaf-friendly enough.
Can’t everyone just get along?
Sally calls and tells us she’s going to be late for Dick’s job. She’s lost and traffic is a nightmare.
We call Dick. He is not happy. Sally is frustrated. Jane is fuming. We are spinning plates and apologizing.
The computer just crashed.
Phones are ringing from people wanting to order signs or learn sign language.
Just another Monday morning.
Is it lunchtime yet?
Happy Hour maybe?

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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