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The Truth About Sign Language Interpreter Availability

If your work requires you to regularly arrange for the services of a sign language interpreter, you know well the challenge of booking a qualified interpreter when you need one.

There are many things to consider when attempting to book a sign language interpreter.

Suddenly, things like arranging your booking weeks in advance, the time during the day you need the interpreter, the nature of the booking, and the skills and credentials of the interpreter needed become critically important to successfully booking services.

Attending to these types of considerations are necessary when working with an industry where demand often outstrips supply.

 

Not the Whole Story

But what if this wasn’t the full story?

What if the agency that is supposed to be assisting you is also contributing to the challenge you face booking an interpreter? What if they are prioritizing the availability of their interpreters according to profit?

Meaning, they have interpreters available but they are reserving them for longer bookings, high volume clients, and bookings that require multiple interpreters?

Sadly, this is a regular practice for most agencies. 🙁

A big claim. Unfortunately, it is an ugly truth.

As the person being depended on to secure the interpreter, what can you do to reduce the chances that your booking will get snagged in the practice of agency prioritized availability?

 

Overcoming Prioritized Availability

To increase your chances, we recommend doing the following three things.

1. When booking services, inquire as to how the agency makes the decision to assign interpreters to their requests.

The answer you are looking for is, “On a first come, first serve basis” or “We give equal opportunity for all requests to be filled”.  

Asking this question gives you a sense of how they handle their bookings. If they are unable to answer this question, you’ll know there is potential for problems. Further, their response will encourage them to be accountable to a more equitable process when arranging an interpreter for you.

2. Give them a date by which they need to confirm your booking.

This will assist you in a couple of ways. First, you’ll have an opportunity to observe the company’s commitment to arranging an interpreter for you. Second, depending on the date you provide, you can build in sufficient time to contact another provider if necessary.

3. Ask how they approach communicating your booking to the interpreters in their employ.

Does your booking immediately go out to all of the qualified interpreters they have fit for the assignment? Does it go out to a small subset of hand-picked, regulars? Does it go to their staff interpreters first (should they have them)? How they respond to these questions will help you get a sense how they deploy their interpreter resources. You are looking for an approach that gets your booking in front of as many qualified interpreters as possible, as fast as possible.

 

At the end

There is no doubt that booking a sign language interpreter can be a challenge. So, you need to have as many things working in your favor as possible. Take the time to consider the approach above as you book services and you just may find that you get a touch more attention and a faster confirmation.

 

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