Deaf & Hard of Hearing

ASL (American Sign Language) & DeafBlind

Request language services for the Deaf/HH

MasterWord specializes in communication access solutions and offers a full array of Deaf/Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind services. All of our interpreters are highly qualified and certified professionals with experience to provide excellent communication outcomes in diverse settings.

MasterWord recognizes that each encounter is unique in its cultural and linguistic demands and actively customizes service provisions to achieve effective communication access to the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind community.


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ASL Frequently Asked Questions

What is interpreting?

Interpreting is defined from The Globalization and Localization Association as “Interpreting is the facilitation of spoken or signed language communication between users of different languages. The formal ISO (International Standards Organization) definition for interpreting is as follows:

Rendering a spoken or signed message into another spoken or signed language, preserving the register and meaning of the source language content.

In the language industry, there are three primary modes of interpreting: consecutive, simultaneous and sight translation. In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter listens and renders the message in the target-language at the same time as the speaker is speaking. In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter speaks after the source-language speaker has stopped speaking. Sight translation is the oral rendition of a written text. In all cases, the interpreter must quickly and carefully convey the meaning, tone, and intent of the original message into the target language. Interpreting requires excellent language proficiency, the ability to quickly analyze and transfer messages between languages, and adherence to professional ethics and standards of practice. Interpreting is performed face-to-face and remotely. Remote interpreting requires technological platforms to facilitate telephonic and video multilingual communication.

Interpreters are employed in a multitude of settings including courts, schools, medical facilities, social services and national and international institutions, and more. Advances in interpreting technologies are facilitating more and more virtual and remote interpretation scenarios, making interpretation achievable in new settings and scenarios.”

What is ASL?

American Sign Language (ASL) “is a visual language. With signing, the brain processes linguistic information through the eyes. The shape, placement, and movement of the hands, as well as facial expressions and body movements, all play important parts in conveying information.

Sign language is not a universal language — each country has its own sign language, and regions have dialects, much like the many languages spoken all over the world. Like any spoken language, ASL is a language with its own unique rules of grammar and syntax. Like all languages, ASL is a living language that grows and changes over time.

ASL is used predominantly in the United States and in many parts of Canada. ASL is accepted by many high schools, colleges, and universities in fulfillment of modern and “foreign” language academic degree requirements across the United States”- The National Association of the Deaf. There are over 400 unique sign languages across the globe and is utilized by over 70 million people.

Am I required to provide interpreting/CART services?

There are approximately over one million people in the United States in which American Sign Language is currently their primary language. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the leading authority on setting the parameters for when and how communication accommodations are required in both public and private settings. Individuals who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind, or Hard of Hearing are defined as a person with a disability under the ADA. Any accommodation that falls under the ADA is the cost responsibility of the business/service entity and not the person needing accommodation. Additional information is available at

How many interpreters are needed for my request?

While every interpreting encounter is complex in nature, there may be occasions when two or more interpreters are required.

Current industry research shows that depending on the technicality, content and speed of discourse, the average interpreter experiences an increase of errors and omissions after 15-30 minutes of continuous simultaneous interpretation. In addition, due to the unique physical component in producing sign language the interpreter also experiences an increased risk of Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) when necessary precautions are not taken.

In response to these research findings, sign language interpreters are often paired together which can effectively mitigate errors in interpretation, increase quality control, and reduce the exposure to the potential physical harm that is associated with RSI.

There is a staff or family/friend available who knows some sign language; can s/he interpret?

Due to the complexity/demand of the interpreting process and the implications therein, Sign Language interpreters are trained and vetted through various accredited certifying bodies to possess the necessary skill and competence to facilitate effective communication with Deaf/HH individuals. By utilizing qualified resources an organization can mitigate internal risks due to medical errors, violations of confidentiality, unnecessary testing, poor adherence, increase preventive care compliance, wrongful conviction, reduce malpractice exposure and unintended poor outcomes and avoid infringement of civil rights. The US Department of Health and Human Services along with other government and municipal entities emphasize the difference in those who are qualified to interpret and those who are not. In most cases, onsite staff, friends and family members are not ethically permitted or deemed qualified to interpret.

How much advance notice is required when requesting interpreting/CART services?

All MasterWord’s services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is important to note that due to a high demand for American Sign Language interpreters it is best practice to request services as soon as is foreseen. Three to five business days for known scheduled requests is recommended. For special events such as conferences, performances and others, two to four weeks advance notice is recommended. This ensures the confirmation and availability of the appropriate resources to meet the requested need.

The American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) is a holistic language evaluation used to determine global ASL proficiency. The basic precept in this type of evaluation is to find out through a face-to-face interview what an individual can do with the target language at a given point in time. The ASLPI is a 20-25 minute video recorded interactive dialogue between the examinee and the interviewer. The interview is rated by a team of evaluators and examinees are awarded an overall proficiency level on a 0-5 rating scale. Language proficiency evaluation was originally developed by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the US Department of State and has been used by the government for decades. Adaptations to the language proficiency evaluation were made with respect to ASL and the ASLPI was born. The ASLPI is utilized by agencies, schools, universities, programs and employers.

Schedule ASLPI at MasterWord

Preparation Material for the ASLPI

Sample ASL Proficiency Videos

MasterWord is proud to be an approved testing site for the Center for the Assessment of Sign Language Interpretation (CASLI).  By working collaboratively with the Deaf and interpreter communities in defining professional standards and metrics, CASLI, a subsidiary of RID, was established for the purpose of development and delivery of testing that assesses the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competence of signed language interpreters for the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf  (RID) Certification Program. For more information on the testing process, please go to

The purpose of CASLI
The principal activity of CASLI shall be the development and administration of knowledge and performance tests that measure the proficiency of an individual to interpret between deaf individuals who use sign language and individuals who speak English. This testing is conducted solely for the purpose of RID, Inc. certification.

Standard Practices

Registry of interpreters for the Deaf

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf strives to advocate for best practices in interpreting, professional development for practitioners and for the highest standards in the provision of interpreting services for diverse users of languages that are signed or spoken.

National Association of the Deaf (NAD)

NAD is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the U.S. Established in 1880, the NAD was shaped by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level.

HIPPA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

Federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

HHS: Board for Evaluation of Interpreters Certification Program

The primary goal of the BEI certification program is to ensure that prospective interpreters are proficient in their ability to meaningfully and accurately comprehend, produce, and transform ASL to and from English.


Accessibility and Incentives

Texas Society of Interpreters
for the Deaf

Registry of Interpreters
for the Deaf

Department of Health and
Human Services

CCHI affiliation

Certification Commission for
Healthcare Interpreters