What are the typical expectations of interpreting for DSU?

Interpreter Etiquette

First impressions are extremely important. From the moment you arrive to your assignment, you are considered “on”. Arrive early. Be sure that your appearance is professional, neat, that your attire is appropriate and pressed, and that your demeanor and interactions are personable. Introduce yourself to all parties with a firm handshake. Position yourself appropriately in order to provide the best quality of service. Be sure to listen before responding and be positive (or neutral) at all times. Remember, we as interpreters are an accommodation. Avoid behaviors that are distracting (ex. fidgeting, using your phone or other devices, leaving the room, excessive coughing, yawning, etc.). Always maintain integrity and professionalism in the provision of services.

Use of Devices

To be present in the moment you always need to be attentive to the situation. Do not use your cell phone, tablet, or other electronic devices while you are on an assignment. This also includes those times when you are working as a Team, and you are in the spell position. The use of electronic devices is a concern raised by consumers frequently. The DSU standard is to have these devices set to silent and properly put away, so they are not in the presence of consumers or customers while working. They may be used for keeping time or checking availability for future appointments but otherwise they should be out of sight.


The role of the interpreter is to allow an effective and equivalent communications exchange. Such an exchange requires the interpreter to be aware of any behaviors that lead to developing a personal relationship that could be construed as inappropriate for a professional interpreter. This requires the interpreter to maintain appropriate boundaries regarding personal communications and interactions. Some examples of what to avoid include:

  • Following or “friending” the customer or consumer for whom you have interpreted on social media.
  • Having conversations of a personal or private nature with any of the parties.
  • Taking on the role of the “helper” when presented with needs outside of the interpreting assignment.
  • Reporting or consulting on issues with other parties that are not relevant to the interpreting assignment
How do I report a situation or dilemma back to DSU?

If you are faced with a difficult situation or dilemma during your assignment, contact the DSU office as soon as possible and report the situation. Your DSU Coordinator will assist in completing an incident report and provide follow-up support in any way possible.

What if the Deaf client does not arrive to my scheduled assignment?

We ask that you wait 15-30 minutes depending on the nature of the assignment before contacting DSU to report the no-show. After that time has passed, DSU may release you from the assignment at the coordinator’s discretion. The interpreter must call or e-mail their DSU coordinator upon leaving the assignment if payment in full is expected.

What if my scheduled assignment runs late?

When an assignment runs over the scheduled time, an interpreter should plan to stay until all communications are completed. Please make reasonably sure the customer has authorization for the additional time in the provision of services. Use your best judgment and check with the contact person whenever possible. It is important to contact DSU within 24 hours to report any extended services that were authorized so we can document that information in the event the invoice is challenged. Failure to do this may result in the rejection of extra charges.

If you are unable to stay over your scheduled time, please let the parties know graciously and professionally. If it is anticipated an assignment may run late, it is best to forewarn the assignment participants of your time constraints. If it is your professional opinion that a replacement interpreter is needed, judiciously ask for a brief recess to contact the DSU office and make such arrangements.

What if follow-up appointments are scheduled?

DSU encourages interpreters to support the process for scheduling future appointments at the conclusion of the current appointment. If you are available and the Deaf consumer seems comfortable with the arrangements, let the customer and the consumer know that you are available to schedule the next appointment. Prompt the customer to continue their practice of contacting DSU to schedule future appointments so we can provide confirmation of services. This protects the terms of the agreement in case of any cancellations. As soon as possible, contact DSU and provide information on future appointments and indicate whether or not you are available.

How do I keep track of my invoices and payments?

Interpreters receive an email copy of each DSU invoice they submit. We strongly recommend you save and file these invoices in your personal email account for easy access. Your DSU coordinator will supply you with a copy of our annual pay schedule which makes invoice and payment reconciliation a breeze! If you prefer to be paid by paper check, your check stub will include any DSU invoice numbers for which you are being paid for.

What if I’m running late to an assignment?

DSU has a professional reputation for providing prompt and highly reliable services. We are proud to hold firm to a high expectation of exceeding customers’ expectations in all aspects of their interactions with DSU. Interpreters are not just responsible for getting to all jobs on time – but also to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled assignment as a business courtesy in being prepared for the job. This early arrival is not a billable time.

Plan ahead by knowing the details of the location and your route, taking into consideration any potential traffic delays or adverse weather. If you anticipate arriving late to an assignment, it is required that you contact the DSU office right away to report this. We always prefer to contact the customer and explain any delays rather than have our customers call us to report an interpreter who has not yet arrived.

What if I can’t make it to my assignment?

We know illnesses or emergencies arise that are out of your control. If this is the case, please notify us as early as possible so we can attempt to locate a replacement for you. Please ensure you speak to a DSU staff member or receive written confirmation of your call-out. In the event of a planned absence, please notify DSU with at least 2-weeks’ notice, to allow time for a replacement interpreter to be secured.

How much work can you promise me?

DSU wants to work as your agent to keep you as busy as possible! Please know that unless an assignment is ongoing, we cannot promise or guarantee anyone a certain number of hours per week or month. There are, however, ways you can make it easy for your DSU coordinator to schedule you for assignments! Our Coordination Department LOVES interpreters who keep their availability updated, are quick and responsive to requests and queries, and who stay organized with their assignment details.

What is the best way to reach DSU?

The DSU Coordination team is available to help you! During normal business hours, contact your DSU coordinator directly or contact the full team by calling (800) 930-2580 or emailing coordinators@deafservicesunlimited.com.