Interpreting Types

Emergency Interpreter Services (EIS)

DHCC has the longest-serving and most accessible on-call Emergency Interpreter Service (EIS) in the Philadelphia region.  EIS is used only for police and medical emergencies that occur after DHCC business hours, weekends and holidays.Our EIS interpreters allow medical and law enforcement personnel to ensure that clear, effective communication will occur as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Use of sign language interpreters for the Deaf or hard of hearing person minimizes the chance of misunderstanding that could escalate the emergency.
Please note that during normal business hours, we respond to any type of emergency or last minute need.

Who should contact EIS for an emergency?

Medical or police personnel that need a sign language interpreter for a Deaf or hard of hearing person with an emergency should call DHCC at 610-604-0452 immediately. You will be asked if your hospital or police or legal department is a DHCC customer. If you are not sure or you are not a customer, the coordinator will ask to speak with someone in authority to authorize the service and guarantee payment.

A Deaf or hard of hearing person should ask the hospital or police personnel to call DHCC to request an interpreter.

How does EIS work?

If you have an emergency during non-business hours, call 610-604-0452. Listen to the message and follow the prompt to push 1 for the Emergency Service Mailbox. You will be asked to leave your first and last names, phone number and extension, location calling from and a short description of the emergency. This information will be forwarded to the EIS Coordinator, who will call you back and get the rest of the information regarding your situation and dispatch interpreters to your location.

Who will be providing the services?

One Coordinator and four interpreters (two hearing and two Deaf) are on-call every evening, weekend and holiday.  This way, we are prepared for multiple emergencies. A Deaf/hearing team – one interpreter who is Deaf and one interpreter who is hearing – ensures that we are prepared for any level of communication.
Police and medical emergencies can have life-altering consequences.  Therefore, a Deaf/hearing team of interpreters is usually required to ensure accurate, effective communication. This team approach has proven to be the most effective way to handle police and medical emergencies especially when the communication skills of the Deaf person are unknown

How long do I have to wait for service?

In most cases, interpreters can be at your location within 60 minutes.  However, depending on our location and demand for service, arrival time may be up to one and a half hours.  Our coordinator will advise you of the expected arrival time.

How can I learn more about working with Deaf and hard of hearing people?

As part of our Education and Outreach program, DHCC offers special training for police and emergency service personnel to help them become more aware about the best ways to provide communication access to Deaf and hard of hearing people in an emergency or a planned appointment. We would be glad to work with you to tailor a program to your particular needs.  Click here to find our more about our sensitivity trainings.

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI)

DHCC coordinates Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), which is the provision of sign language interpreting through the use of video conferencing technology where the parties that need to communicate are in the same location and the interpreter is connected remotely.  High-end videoconferencing equipment is not necessary.  In fact, the interpreter can be reached through any standard videophone or through a webcam on almost any computer. This technology allows the Deaf consumer needing interpretation to see the sign language interpreter clearly through the computer or videophone over the internet and vice versa. The interpreter would also be able to hear everything that is said on the opposite end to be able to effectively interpret through the videophone or computer’s microphone.
For more information about VRI including rates and/or to make a request, please contact the DHCC Interpreter Referral Department at: 610-604-0452 or
There are several potential benefits to utilizing a VRI interpreter:

    • An interpreter can often be accessed with little or no advance notice. If a Deaf employee needs to attend a meeting that was called at the last minute, or a hospital needs to determine the immediate needs of a Deaf patient in the ER, an interpreter can be contacted on the spot and communication can take place without waiting for an interpreter to travel to the location.
    • Areas that have a high demand for interpreting services can tap into the skilled interpreters remotely. Instead of being told there is no interpreter available because all of the local interpreters are busy, the consumer can always be connected with an available interpreter.
    • VRI can offer a substantial cost savings. Instead of having to pay for a two or three hour minimum for short assignments, as well as mileage and parking expenses, the client only pays for the time used, with much shorter minimums, depending on the type of assignment and amount of advance notice.
    • No additional late minute request fees – If forgotten appointments or emergency situations are needed on short notice, additional fees will not be applied for VRI.
    • No monthly service fees – DHCC does not charge monthly fees. Charges are based on a 15-minute assignment fee plus any additional minutes used.
    • Allows for easy compliance with disability laws. The ability to provide an interpreter, or provide an interpreter more quickly (while waiting for the in-person interpreter to arrive), allows organizations to more fully comply with applicable laws which require communication access.**

VRI is an excellent option for anyone who often needs last minute access to interpreting services and/or is having trouble finding qualified interpreters to meet their need for interpreting services.
** The Americans with Disabilities Act as amended (covers private businesses such as doctor’s offices, realtors, private employers, etc.), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended (covers government entities and those receiving government funds) both require the provision of equal access to communication.  It is important to strongly consider the preferences of the deaf person when determining what is necessary to provide equal access.

Technical Requirements

Worried about the technical requirements?  Don’t be!  Click here to read more information about the Technical Requirements for VRI

Specialized Interpreting Situations*

Legal Interpreting

In legal settings, clear and accurate communication among all involved parties is essential. Interpreters are used in many different legal situations, such as lawyer’s consultations, court actions, real-estate closings, social security hearings and any situation where a legal document is explained and signed or a formal decision is appealed.

Mental Health Interpreting

Effective communication is critical in mental health situations, which may include assessments, evaluations, diagnoses and treatments. When two languages and cultures are involved, communication presents the mental health professional with additional challenges. This is often the case when a patient or a significant person in the patient’s life is Deaf and uses sign language.

Medical Interpreting

In medical settings, such as doctor’s appointments, inpatient hospital procedures or consultations, effective communication between consumers and health care professionals may require interpreters to bridge the communication gap. The communication gap may be between the medical professional and a patient who is Deaf or between the medical professional and a responsible person other than the patient, such as the Deaf parent of a minor child or the Deaf adult responsible for an aging parent.

Educational Interpreting

In an educational environment such as primary or secondary schools, colleges and graduate schools, interpreters are used to facilitate communication between Deaf students and others, including teachers, service providers and peers.

Religious Interpreting

Religious interpreting occurs in settings that are spiritual in nature. These settings can include worship services, religious education, workshops, conferences, retreats, confession, scripture study, youth activities, counseling, tours and pilgrimages, weddings, funerals or other special ceremonies.

Deaf-Blind Interpreting

Deaf-Blind is a term used to describe a group with varying degrees of Deafness and blindness. Some Deaf-blind people have a substantial amount of vision while others have little or no useful vision. The same is true for hearing; some Deaf-blind people are hard of hearing while others are moderately or profoundly Deaf. The diversity in levels of vision and hearing contribute to the type of interpreting required. Examples of Deaf-blind interpreting include: sign language at close visual range or in a limited visual space; sign language and/or fingerspelling received by sense of touch with one or two hands (tactile); and close range sign supported speech.

Oral Interpreting/Transliterating

Oral transliterators (also called oral interpreters) facilitate spoken communication between individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and use speech and speechreading as their primary mode of communication and other persons. The oral interpreter silently mouths sentences to the deaf or hard of hearing person, changing words or phrases as needed, to ones that are easier to speechread. Oral transliterators may also “voice” for speakers who use no voice, or whose voices are difficult for listeners to understand.

Deaf/Hearing Team

DHCC uses a Deaf/hearing team, one Deaf interpreter and one hearing interpreter, in major life-altering situations such as legal and mental health assignments. Due to the major impact of these situations, there is a critical need for communication and cultural accuracy. Our Deaf interpreters have the most linguistic skill in ASL and the best cultural connection to the Deaf consumer. In addition, some Deaf consumers require a Deaf/hearing team in a regular assignment due to their individual language needs. Please click here to learn more about the Deaf/hearing team.

Hearing/Hearing Team

It is DHCC’s policy to assign two (2) hearing interpreters to work as a team for the duration of complex assignments or those exceeding two hours.

*Note: DHCC thanks RID for the excellent information about specialized services on their web site, which we used to compile some of this information.