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The VDDHH Interpreter Services Program (ISP)

The VDDHH Interpreter Services Program (ISP) includes the following activities:

  • Maintain a Directory of Qualified Interpreters.
    • The Directory of Qualified Interpreters provides a quick and easy way for anyone to locate a qualified sign language interpreter in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Check out our current Directory listings, tips for using the Directory, and, for qualified interpreters, see the Directory Release form so you can be included in this valuable resource.
  • Coordinate sign language interpreter services for state agencies and Virginia Courts.
    • In an average month, the program coordinates about 200 requests for services from state agencies and Virginia Courts. The request forms on this website are available for authorized staff of agencies and courts to complete and submit. For consumers, look for information about how you can get interpreter services if you have an appointment with an agency or a court date.
  • Contract with Qualified Interpreters to provide services to state and local government agencies:
    • The Interpreter Services Contract is a cooperative contract that any state agency can join. It provides state agencies with access to verified qualified interpreters at set rates and terms. Interpreters and agencies can sign on to the contract at any time during the contract period.
  • Provide information about sign language interpreters and effective communication for consumers, health care providers, employers, and others.
    • If you want to know more about interpreters, how to hire an interpreter, how to know if an interpreter is qualified, and, for consumers, how to get an interpreter for your doctor’s appointment or your driving test or any of the many important activities in your life, ISP may be able to help.

About Sign Language Interpreters

A qualified interpreter for the deaf or hard of hearing is a professional who facilitates communication between deaf and hearing individuals. A qualified interpreter has demonstrated proficient ethical and interpreting skills and has gained the knowledge and expertise required to function in a professional capacity.

Perhaps the biggest misconception concerning interpreting for people who are deaf or hard of hearing is the generally-held assumption that a beginning course in sign language or fingerspelling is a sufficient qualification to work as an interpreter. A person who knows conversational sign language does not necessarily possess the expertise required to perform well in the role of an interpreter. Professional interpreting requires intense training and experience before proficient levels of skill are attained.

The role of an interpreter is to accurately convey all messages between the individuals involved in the communication setting. Interviews, conversations and presentations can proceed at a normal pace, transitioning fluently from one communication modality to another, with the aid of a qualified interpreter.

VDDHH Directory of Qualified Interpreters

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. Website:

  • The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) is the national certifying body for sign language interpreters. Using their website, you may locate nationally certified interpreters anywhere in the US.
  • Tips for your search:
    • The RID “Find an RID Member” search tool includes both certified and non-certified members. Be sure to select “Certified” in the CATEGORY box to find an interpreter who has the qualifications you need.
    • You can search locally by city/town name but may want to search by state and then put in order by name of city.
    • Review the Explanation of Certifications  if you are not sure what type of certified interpreter will best meet your needs.

About CART Services

As explained by the National Court Reporters Association :

  • Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), also referred to as realtime captioning or live-event captioning, is a way to transcribe the spoken word into readable English text using a stenotype machine, notebook computer, and realtime software. Through the services of CART providers using the latest realtime technology combined with a stenotype machine and notebook computer, the text appears on a computer monitor or other display and serves as an important communication tool for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or learning a second language. CART provides a complete translation of all spoken words and environmental sounds for the benefit of an individual consumer or larger group in a variety of settings, including classrooms, courtrooms, religious services, conventions and conferences, personal appointments and events, civic events, cultural presentations, or anywhere communication access is needed. Increasingly, CART is being provided remotely via the Internet or a telephone connection.

VDDHH does not maintain a “directory” of CART providers in the same way we have a “Directory of Qualified Interpreters. The agency does have a list of CART providers that this agency uses to provide onsite services in Virginia state agencies and courts. There are also many “remote CART providers” who can provide services over the internet.

For more information about CART services, visit:

Directory of Qualified Interpreters

The VDDHH Directory of Qualified Interpreters (The Directory) provides credentials and contact information for freelance sign language interpreters in the Commonwealth who have granted VDDHH permission to include their information.

The Directory is divided into two sections:

There are many qualified interpreters in Virginia who are not listed in the Directory of Qualified Interpreters. You may want to go to the RID “Find an RID Member” search tool to find an interpreter. Be sure to select “Certified” in the section for “Category” so that you know the interpreter names that come up in your search are people who have current, valid certification.

For Consumers Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

General Information About VDDHH Interpreter Services for Consumers Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • VDDHH coordinates interpreters for state agencies and Virginia Courts.
  • VDDHH coordinates interpreters for VCU Health/MCV.
  • VDDHH does not coordinate interpreters for doctor appointments (except for VCU Health Doctors) or for job interviews with private companies or for weddings or funerals.
  • If a doctor or an employer calls VDDHH, we will explain to them how they can find an interpreter on their own. We will give them information about the Directory of Qualified Interpreters and about the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA).
  • You can give your doctor or employer information about the ADA, too.
  • The US Department of Justice has a very good document that explains the ADA and Effective Communication (including information about getting sign language interpreters. You can print that document out and give a copy to your doctor.

  • Important Information About Interpreters for DMV  
  • Information for Getting Interpreters for a Meeting or Appointment at Other State Agencies
    • To request an interpreter for a meeting with a state or local government agency (such as the Health Department or the Department of Social Services), please contact the person you will be meeting with and explain that you need an interpreter. If you plan to attend an event hosted by a state or local government agency, please contact the event coordinator or the person in charge of registration and explain that you need an interpreter. The agency may schedule an interpreter on their own or may contact VDDHH to schedule an interpreter for the meeting. Again, the earlier you request an interpreter, the easier it will be to find an interpreter for your appointment/meeting.
  • VDDHH can get an interpreter for Virginia Courts but we have to get the request from the court or a court-appointed attorney. If you have to appear in a Virginia Court, you should let the clerk of the court know as soon as possible that you will need an interpreter. You should let the court know the case number and the date/time you have to be in court.
  • You can also ask the court for an interpreter if you need to go to court to file a petition (for custody, visitation, divorce, a warrant in debt, etc.). Call them before you go and let them know you will need an interpreter to file your paperwork.
  • Please do not call VDDHH to ask for an interpreter for court. We can only get the interpreter if we get the request from the court.
  • Be sure to ask the court to get an interpreter every time you have to go to court
  • The court can get an interpreter or CART for you if you are a party to the case (the defendant, the plaintiff, the victim or a witness), a family member of a party to the case or an interested person (friend, observer, etc.)
  • The court may be able get an interpreter or CART for you if you have to go to a court-ordered class (driving school, domestic violence, anger management, parenting, etc.) ONLY IF the case is “pre-disposition” or has not been “finalized.” If you have to go back to court when you finish your class, the case has not been finalized and the court will pay for the interpreter. If your case has been finalized (so you have been found guilty or the case is finished) and you have to take a class or participate in a program, you will have to ask the class/program to provide the interpreter.
  • Virginia Courts include:
    • General District Court
    • Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court
    • Circuit Court

For Virginia State & Local Government Agencies

Are you an employee or authorized representative of a state or local government agency in Virginia?

Do you have an appointment or event coming up that will require the services of a qualified sign language interpreter?

If you answered YES to both questions above, please continue reading to find out how to secure the services of a qualified sign language interpreter to meet your needs.

VDDHH has recently established an Interpreter Services Agreement and Manual for State Agencies and Sign Language Interpreters. This Agreement provides state and local government agencies in the Commonwealth with access to pre-qualified Sign Language Interpreters who have agreed to set rates and terms. Agencies may contact these interpreters directly or submit a General Sign Language Interpreter Request form to VDDHH for assistance in coordinating the assignment of an interpreter.

You can call us at 804-662-9502 and ask for the Interpreter Services office if you need more information.

Interpreter Services Program Agreement and Manual
Emergency Video Interpreting Addendum
List of Pre-Qualified Interpreters

The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) is charged with assisting state agencies and their local counterparts in the process of securing qualified sign language interpreters.

VDDHH maintains a contract for interpreter services in which other state agencies have the option of participating. Participating agencies are assured of consistent hourly rates and terms for interpreters. If you do not know whether or not your agency participates in the contract, please contact us.

VDDHH can coordinate interpreter services for state agencies whether or not those agencies participate in the VDDHH Interpreter Services Contract. There are two basic methods for doing this:

  1. VDDHH-Coordinated Assignments: in this method (described in detail below), the agency that needs interpreter services submits a detailed request form to VDDHH and VDDHH contacts and assigns qualified interpreters and notifies the requesting agency when an interpreter is assigned. The requesting agency is responsible for paying the interpreter and the interpreter will bill that agency directly.
  2. Self-Coordinated Assignments: You are NOT required to go through VDDHH to secure interpreter services. While it may be helpful to use our service for occasional requests, if you have an ongoing need, you may want to handle the arrangements yourself. If your agency is on contract, you should have a copy of the current list of contracted interpreters. If not, you can request a copy of that list from VDDHH. You may contact any interpreter on that list and see if they are available for the date/time needed. If your agency is not on contract, you may contact interpreters on the contract list and negotiate a rate or use the Directory Of Qualified Interpreters online to locate an interpreter.

Use the “General Sign Language Interpreter/CART Request Form” which you can find in the Forms section above.

  • You must include a billing address on the request form. We will not begin the search for an interpreter or CART provider until we have an authorized billing address.
  • The email address ( is ONLY for the initial submission of a NEW request. Do not use this address for follow-up inquiries, cancellations or other communication about an existing request. All correspondence regarding a request beyond the initial email submission should be addressed to the general email box at
    1. If you submit a request to, you do not have to fax a copy of the request. Faxed requests will still be accepted in lieu of emailed requests but we prefer email requests from this point forward.
    2. Requests submitted to the general email box at will not be acknowledged and may not be processed, so please do not use the general ISP address to submit requests.
  • If the request is URGENT (URGENT is defined as any request with less than one week's notice), please follow up the submission with a call to Interpreter Services at 804-662-9703 or 804-662-9708 to alert use to the request. If I am not at my desk, please call 804-662-9502 and alert the Receptionist.
  • If you do not receive acknowledgment of the request within 2 working days, follow up with a phone call to the Interpreter Services Program.
  • Once your email request has been submitted, you should receive an auto-reply explaining that your request was received in the system. This does not mean that processing has begun, only that your request has been received. We do not confirm receipt of faxed requests so you might want to follow up with a phone call to be sure we got the request if you faxed it.
  • You may also submit requests by fax. Complete the form and fax it to 804-662-9718.
  • Processing of your request will begin as soon as practicable, depending upon the volume of requests in the office at the time, assignment date of the request, and ISP Staffing at the time. Processing means that the request has been entered into our database and sent out to contracted interpreters for consideration.
  • Once processing has begun on your request, you will be notified of the status if there are any questions. Please note that at this point, the subject line will include a 5-digit number. That number is the VDDHH job number. Please use that number in the subject line of any additional correspondence about the request, including changes, updates, submission of prep materials or cancellation notices.
  • Once an interpreter has been assigned for the request, you will receive a Confirmation Notice email. Subject line: [Send Secure] Confirmation of Sign Language Interpreter for [date] [VDDHH Job #]. Since confirmation details often include “personally identifiable information” or “personal health information,” which is protected, emails with Confirmation Detail Sheets are encrypted. The first time you receive a confirmation, you will be prompted to register with Cisco Registered Envelope Services (CRES). If you have any problems with that process, contact Leslie Prince at 804-662-9703. Please acknowledge receipt of that notice.

And a few reminders and tips:

  1. Remember that advance notice on any request is critical to ensure interpreter availability, especially when multiple interpreters are needed. VDDHH does NOT provide services 24 hours a day so if your need for an interpreter arises “after hours,” you should contact interpreters directly.
  2. When possible, indicate if you have an interpreter preference. This could include a specific interpreter by name or a general preference for a certified interpreter or which specific VQAS-level interpreter might be appropriate for the assignment.
  3. Be prepared to decide whether you would like VDDHH to expand the search for interpreters. When no interpreters are available locally, VDDHH can expand the search to other areas of the state. We do not do this without authorization from the requestor. If time is short and you MUST have an interpreter, please indicate on your initial request that an expanded search is approved.
  4. Be sure to include a start and end time on your request. If no end time is provided on the request form, VDDHH will schedule the interpreter for the 2 hour minimum. This is not the start and end time of the event, but the start and end time of the interpreters service needed. For example, for a meeting that starts at 10:00, you may want the interpreter on site at 9:30 for meet and greet activities. Unless you specify 9:30 as the start time, the interpreter will not necessarily arrive at that time. Also, when you specify an end time, you must understand that the interpreter may have scheduled another assignment after yours. If an event/meeting/activity runs over time, the interpreter may have to leave before the event/meeting/activity ends. Keep this in mind when specifying start and end times.

If you must cancel a request, please be sure to make that clear in the subject line: “CANCEL Request: [AGENCY NAME], Richmond, 8/1/2011 ##### [VDDHH JOB #, if established]. DO NOT send a reply to the “Confirmation of Sign Language Interpreter” message to cancel an interpreter unless you change the SUBJECT LINE to include: CANCEL. Please remember that, if you cancel with less than 2 full business days’ notice, the interpreter(s) will still be able to bill for the full scheduled time.

CART is Computer Assisted Real Time Transcription. It is most often used by non-signing Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. VDDHH does not maintain a contract for CART services. In cases where CART is required, the agency sends the request out to known providers in the area (limited) and requests information on their rates and terms for the assignment. Rates for CART are significantly higher than rates for interpreters; however, for jobs over two hours, you only need a single CART provider

For Virginia Courts

VDDHH and the Supreme Court of Virginia have worked together, in accordance with the Code of Virginia (Criminal Code §19.2-164.1 and Civil Code §8.01-384.1), to ensure that persons who are deaf or hard of hearing who have business with any state court in the Commonwealth have access to effective communication through Sign Language Interpreters or CART services. The full text of the current Memorandum of Understanding can be found here.

Please use the COURT Sign Language Interpreter/CART Request Form to request sign language interpreters through the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH). You must submit a new request every time a case is on the docket, even if the interpreter agrees to or is ordered to return. You can also submit interpreter requests for pre-disposition, court-related assignments, such as court-ordered driver improvement clinics, meetings between court-appointed attorneys and their clients, etc.

Please submit interpreter requests as early as possible before the court date. The earlier you submit a request, the more likely we will be to successfully locate an interpreter. When filling out the form, please provide as much detailed information as possible. The information is provided only to the interpreter(s) assigned to that particular assignment.

Be sure to include the names of all key parties/witnesses, etc. and notation of which of these parties is deaf. Also, if possible, include an anticipated end time for the proceeding. If no end time is provided, the interpreter will be scheduled for the 2 hour minimum and may schedule additional assignments after that 2 hour time frame. The time frame is also important so that we know whether 2 interpreters are needed. If the actual working time for the interpreter will exceed two hours, or if more than one party to the case is deaf, 2 interpreters may be needed.

Please keep in mind that not all deaf people use American Sign Language. If a deaf or hard of hearing individual needs or requests an oral interpreter, a foreign sign language interpreter (i.e. Spanish sign language, Vietnamese sign language, etc.), or CART services (a captioning process for deaf people who do not use sign language), please indicate this on the request form.

You may email the completed request form to or fax it to 804-662-9718 As soon as an interpreter is assigned, VDDHH will e-mail confirmation to the contact person indicated on the form. If we are unable to locate an interpreter for the case, we will notify you as soon as possible.

If a case is canceled or continued before the scheduled date, please contact us immediately. If a cancellation is made with less than 24 hours notice, the interpreter will still bill for his/her scheduled time. Even if you have a short notice cancellation, please contact us so we can notify the interpreter and you can avoid being charged for his/her travel time.

For Qualified Sign Language Interpreters

  • How to Get Listed In the VDDHH Directory of Qualified Interpreters
  • How to Become a Contracted Interpreter with VDDHH
  • How to Become a Virginia Court Interpreter

If you still have questions about our Interpreter Services or need further guidance you can

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