DMEO: Disability & Accommodations : American Sign Language (ASL)
Sign Language Interpreting Services
American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, complex language that uses signs made with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the first language of many deaf North Americans, and one of several communication options available to deaf people.
The EEO Office contracts with a local Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) for HQ DODEA employees and visitors to our offices. All DoDEA locations should contact their local EEO offices if Interpreting Services are necessary. If you have any questions, please contact the Disabilities Program Manager.
Requesting Interpreting Services:
To request services, contact the Disabilities Program Manager or DMEO staff member in your local area It is always best to request services as early as possible. Any assignment lasting over two hours usually requires an additional interpreter. As with most accommodation requests, the division, area office or district where the employee, interviewee, contractor or guest works (or will work) is ultimately financially responsible for the accommodation.
When to Use the Service:
As with all accommodation requests, an employee must ask for an interpreter to be provided as we cannot assume that an interpreter is needed. There are cases when deaf and/or hard-of-hearing employees may not know ASL or other types of sign language or they may be fine with lip reading. Examples of when an interpreter should be used are:
- one-on-one meetings between employees
- team meetings
- office staff meetings
- training or workshops
- office gatherings of either a social or business nature
Making Events Accessible:
If you are planning an event open to all employees and/or the public, you must ask if anyone has special needs or accommodation requirements. All general announcements or publicity for the event, meeting or interviews should always include a notice asking for special needs of the attendees.
How to Work with an Interpreter:
Remember that the interpreter is only there to facilitate communication - not as a participant in the conversation.
- Always look directly at the deaf person- not the interpreter.
- Address the deaf person directly - do not preface questions with "ask her/him" or statements with "tell him/her."
Interpreters' Code of Ethics:
Interpreters Code of Ethics: Interpreters are professionals who must follow a code of ethics including:
- Interpreters shall keep all assignment-related information strictly confidential.
- Interpreters shall render the message faithfully, always conveying the content and spirit of the speaker.
- Interpreters shall not counsel, advise, or interject personal opinions.
- ASL University - a series of self-paced online ASL courses.
- ASL Browser - Michigan State University's online ASL browser where you can look up video of thousands of ASL signs.
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDHD) includes information about ASL.
- NIDCD Fact Sheet on American Sign Language.