Quality ASL Interpreting Services

We're Philadelphia's most competent ASL Interpreting services. We've been a part of building bridges of communication in this community for over 40 years.

American Sign Language Interpreting

DHCC is familiar with the communication needs of the Deaf consumer and uses its processes to determine which interpreter has the skill to work most effectively with a particular Deaf person. 

DHCC works to fill assignments with a qualified interpreter at all of the either onsite or remote (video remote interpreting) assignments. DHCC has an excellent reputation in the community and has experience providing interpreters in all types of situations. Our sign language interpreters are thoroughly screened prior to working with our customers.

Emergency Interpreter Service (EIS)

DHCC has the first and longest serving on-call emergency interpreter service in the Delaware Valley for medical and/or police emergencies during non-business hours. One coordinator and 4 interpreters are on call each night, weekend or holiday for a quick response.

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. The parties that need to communicate are in the same location, and the interpreter is connected remotely.

Community Interpreting Program (CIP)

The Community Interpreting Program (CIP) is meant to cover one-time events not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) such as weddings, funerals, baby showers, etc. It is not for on-going, monthly events or business related meetings. This program is restricted to use by individuals only. Requests from businesses and organizations cannot be accepted.

Call us

(610) 604-0450

CART (Real-Time Captioning)

We provide CART (or Real-time captioning) which uses qualified transcribers with specialized equipment who print a word for word version of spoken language on a laptop computer, TV monitor or overhead screen. DHCC arranges this service.

We provide interpreters for nearly every situation.

We work with over 150 American Sign Language interpreters who are among the most respected and qualified in the Philadelphia area. Our interpreters are able to cover nearly every need and circumstance.

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.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Guide to Hiring a Sign Language Interpreter

The first step is to have someone in your organization contact DHCC’s Interpreter Referral Department (IRD) at 610-604-0452, option 1 to become a customer.  One of our coordinators would fax or email DHCC’s payment authorization form and rates and policies to review, complete and sign.  The paperwork should be completed and returned before you make an interpreter request.  Once DHCC has received the signed forms, you are signed on and ready to request an interpreter.

When a need for a sign language interpreter arises, call IRD at [610] 604-0452, option 1 as soon as the dates, times and locations are known.  Our coordinators will begin looking for interpreters as soon as they have all the necessary information. 

We ask that all customers submit their requests in writing. If the request is within the next 24 hours, please submit your request then call us at 610-604-0450, option 1 to confirm receipt. 

If you’d like, we can fax you a request form to copy and use to fax or email your requests.

DHCC attempts to accommodate all requests, regardless of lead-time, even last minute requests.  However, the following guide is helpful:

  • For an appointment happening on only one day, we prefer at least one week notice.
  • For an appointment happening on two days or more, we prefer at least two weeks notice.
  • For large conventions or conferences, we prefer two months notice.  It is also helpful if we can receive preparation materials for these – schedules, names of presenters, topics, abstracts, etc.
  • For legal appointments, we prefer two weeks notice, as there is a limited pool of qualified, legal interpreters.
  • Name of the Deaf individual
  • Deaf individual’s main mode of communication – American Sign Language, Signed English, etc.
  • Nature of the situation
  • Exact location of the appointment including location name, street address, nearest cross street, building name, floor number and room number.  If the location is difficult to find, please provide directions.
  • Start and end time of the appointment.  If security clearances or other preparations are necessary, be sure to include this when informing us of the start time.
  • Name and phone number of a person who will be on site at the time of the appointment.
  • Names of any other people involved in the appointment – doctor’s name, officer’s name, judge’s name etc.
  • Any information available regarding the content of the appointment – schedules, agendas, order of events, copies of any presentations, etc.
  • Requester’s name, phone number, fax number, and email address.
  • Specific interpreter preference, if any.
  • An emergency contact person and/or main number to the location so we have a specific person to contact in the event of an emergency such as a snow cancellation.

Once an assignment is confirmed, DHCC must pay our contracted interpreters unless they receive proper notice.  Notice varies depending on the length of the assignment.

For assignments lasting up to two full days, requests for cancellation of services must be made with two (2) full business days notice in between the date of service and the date of cancellation or payment of contracted hours will be required.

For example:  An assignment scheduled for Friday would need to be canceled by Tuesday in order for it to be non-billable.  The 2 full business days would be Wednesday and Thursday.  Weekends and DHCC office closures do not count as business days.

Use the following as your guide:

  • You must cancel on or before WEDNESDAY to avoid charges for requests on or after MONDAY.
  • You must cancel on or before THURSDAY to avoid charges for requests on or after TUESDAY.
  • You must cancel on or before FRIDAY to avoid charges for requests on or after WEDNESDAY.
  • You must cancel on or before MONDAY to avoid charges for requests on or after THURSDAY.
  • You must cancel on or before TUESDAY to avoid charges for requests on or after FRIDAY.

*Note: The cancellation policy above does not include the cancellation expectations for longer assignments. Click here to view full cancellation policy.

Using Emergency Sign Language Interpreting Service

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


Using Video Remote Interpreting

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

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.

The following equipment and internet guidelines will ensure the appropriate video quality when accessing VRI services:

High-speed internet:

  • DSL is usually not sufficient
  • Ability to directly connect to internet is highly recommended (wireless connections are possible depending on the strength of the connection signal)

Up-to-date computer or laptop:

  • For locations that will utilize the equipment in different areas, a cart is recommended for easy relocation of equipment
  • Webcam embedded or plug-in (HD webcam highly recommended for the clearest picture quality)
  • Optional: Headset (only necessary if one did not want to use the speakers/microphone on your laptop or computer for privacy concerns)

DHCC VRI – Software User Interface
To connect to an interpreter, simply go to joingotomeeting.com. Enter the meeting ID provided to you by coordination and click “Connect”. If prompted, click “Always”. Software will automatically download and you will be connected to the interpreter. Click on the camera icon to share your webcam so that the interpreter can see the consumer.

Should you have any difficulties, our coordinator will be happy to assist you in the process of connecting to the interpreter.

DHCC Policies

The following are some key policies. We will send you our complete list of policies if you are interested in becoming a customer. All policies are subject to change without notice. Please call 610-604-0452, option 1 or email ird@dhcc.org for the most up to date information. We look forward to discussing your interpreting needs and serving you!

Cancellation Policy
Once an assignment is confirmed, DHCC must pay our contracted interpreters unless they receive proper notice. Notice varies depending on the length of the assignment.

For assignments lasting up to two full days, requests for cancellation of services must be made with two (2) full business days notice in between the date of service and the date of cancellation or payment of contracted hours will be required.

For example: An assignment scheduled for Friday would need to be cancelled by Tuesday in order for it to be non-billable. The 2 full business days would be Wednesday and Thursday. Weekends and DHCC office closures do not count as business days.

For non-medical assignments lasting three (3) consecutive days or more, requests to cancel the entire event must be made 5 full business days in advance of the first date of service. If less notice is given, the customer will be charged the full cost of the first two full days of service in addition to a $50 cancellation fee.

For ongoing, non-medical schedules with weekly assignments lasting 4 weeks or more, requests to cancel the entire schedule must be cancelled 5 full business days in advance of the first date of service. If less notice is given, the customer will be charged for the first two confirmed assignment days in addition to a $50 cancellation fee.

DHCC does its best to find interpreters for all assignments; however, we can only provide service based on the availability of appropriate subcontracted interpreters. Proper lead-time of 5 business days is recommended for regular assignments and 2 weeks for legal assignments is recommended.

Travel Expenses
DHCC’s mileage reimbursement policy is that we match the rate that the IRS allows at the time the interpreting assignment takes place. The DHCC rate will change when the IRS rate changes, and may change without notice. Travel is charged for each mile the interpreter travels to and from an assignment. Parking, tolls, train fare, cab fare or bus fare will also be charged as incurred by each interpreter. Depending on distance, DHCC may negotiate an additional rate of $35/hour for travel time. This additional rate is subject to change without notice. Please call 610-604-0450 (voice) or email info@dhcc.org for the most up to date information.

Extra Time
Customers are encouraged to estimate the correct length of time of the assignment including any extraordinary time needed prior to the actual start time. (See the following example.)
If your business requires a security check prior to entering the building, add this time to your request time. For example: You have a meeting from 9:00 – 11:00, but the interpreter has to clear security in another building prior to the meeting and this will take 30 minutes. You should book the assignment for 8:30 – 11:00.

DHCC realizes that sometimes assignments go over the contracted time period. If the interpreters are available to stay after the end time of an assignment, extra time will be charged in 15-minute increments. Interpreters book their own time and may not be able to stay longer due to other commitments. If your meeting frequently runs over the scheduled time, consider extending the end time of your request.

Additional Charges to Hourly Rates
All assignments are charged for the requested timeframe with a 2-hour minimum; additional time will be billed in 15-minute increments.

Holiday Rate: Regular and Specialty rates are doubled and EIS rates charged at time and a half if assignment falls on New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Last Minute: Any non-medical, regular or specialty assignment requested for the same or next business day is charged at double the rate.

Last Minute Medical: A daytime Medical Emergency surcharge of $50 per interpreter will apply to any last minute, medical assignments requested during business hours for the same or next business day.

A Night Differential of $5.00 per hour per interpreter will apply to any assignment that takes place between the hours of 12:00am and 6:00am. Night Differential is doubled on Holidays listed above.

Terms of Payment
Payment is required within 30 days of the invoice. DHCC gladly accepts Visa, MasterCard, AMEX and Discover. Payments made after thirty days may be subject to an interest charge with notice.