Interpreter Policy Handbook

Dear Colleagues:

The intent of this Interpreter Handbook is to offer guidelines, clarify expectations and responsibilities of the interpreter, and give a basic understanding of some of the objectives, policies and procedures of Disability Resource Center (DRC). With the general information presented in this handbook and good judgment, interpreters should have a reliable guide as to what is expected of them. If you do not understand any portion of the material or if questions come up that are not covered here, please contact me.

We look forward to working with you here at UALR and hope you will enjoy it as well.


Ann Marie Lott, NIC
Interpreter/Transcriber Coordinator

Back to the top

Hiring and Schedule Procedures

Qualification Criteria

The following list outlines the minimum criteria to be hired as an interpreter at UALR:

  • Certification from RID or NAD, or
  • QAST level (Quality Assurance Screening Test); level III or higher preferred
  • Graduate of an Interpreter Education Program preferred
  • Three years interpreting experience, in the postsecondary educational arena preferred

Hiring Procedure

DRC provides quality access to all programs and services of the university. In the area of communications access, we endeavor to use the most qualified interpreters. When hiring, DRC will generally contact interpreters based on certification, starting with those nationally certified, continuing through QAST Levels 5, 4, and 3, and equivalent levels from other states. Student preferences and seniority are also considered.

It is critical for UALR interpreters to commit to assignments accepted. If an interpreter is habitually tardy or absent, it has an adverse effect on the student. Such a lack of commitment will impact the interpreter’s placement in future assignments.

Scheduling Procedure

DRC has no control over students adding, dropping, or withdrawing from classes. Scheduled hours could change at any time. If a full-time staff interpreters’ hours drops below an acceptable number, she/he will occasionally be required to replace hourly interpreters. In addition, on rare occasions, an interpreter with a higher certification level who loses a class may replace an interpreter with a lower level of certification. This will be done at the discretion of the Interpreter Coordinator. These replacements will in no way reflect negatively on the hourly interpreters.

Some classes, because of length or some other factor, may at the onset look as if they require two interpreters. However after the first few classes, it may be obvious that one interpreter can do the job. It is the responsibility of the interpreters to inform the Interpreter Coordinator of this situation. At this point the Interpreter Coordinator will determine if it would be best to alternate the two interpreters or to keep only one interpreter.

The interpreter is scheduled until the end of class. If an instructor goes past the designated time, or if a student needs to speak to the instructor after class, the interpreter may stay if her/his schedule allows. If the time goes over the scheduled class time, call DRC to inform the Interpreter Coordinator. If the interpreter has another class or assignment, she/he may leave at the end of the scheduled time. If the interpreter has to leave, and the instructor continues teaching, the interpreter should inform the instructor that she/he has to leave and inform the Interpreter Coordinator of the situation.

Only assignments that are scheduled through DRC will be paid. A student may ask an interpreter if she/he is available, but the interpreter must be given the assignment through Disability Resource Center. DRC maintains the right to move interpreters within their scheduled time. All interpreter requests must come through the Interpreter Coordinator. Students must request an interpreter in advance from the Interpreter Coordinator (the exception is for interpreting that takes place immediately after class that runs over the scheduled class time). Students are made aware of this procedure.

Interpreters should not make other commitments that would force them to leave UALR early, or accept a UALR assignment if they know they must leave early.

During the semester, interpreters may be needed for such events as dorm meetings, lectures, and pep rallies. As these requests come in, the Interpreter Coordinator will contact interpreters to fill these requests.


Group meetings with interpreters may be held prior to the beginning of the semester. These meetings are mandatory for any interpreter who wishes to maintain a schedule of interpreting classes. The interpreter will be compensated for these meetings at a two-hour rate.

There may be times when it is also necessary for the interpreter to meet individually with DRC staff. Attendance at these meetings is mandatory and part of the interpreter’s responsibility while working for UALR. There will be no compensation for these meetings, however they usually will be brief. Reasons for meetings may include, but are not limited to, discussion of performance; meeting between student, interpreter, and DRC staff; or discussion of schedules for upcoming semesters. DRC will attempt to schedule these meetings at a time that is convenient to all parties.

Student Absences/Cancellations

If a student has not appeared at the beginning of class and has not indicated that he/she will be arriving late, the interpreter is required to wait 20 minutes outside of the classroom. After waiting the allotted time, the interpreter must report to DRC personnel by phone or in person and inform them of his or her availability and indicate “no show” on his/her timesheet (e.g. “no show” 1.0 hour). If DRC is lacking an interpreter in another class at that time, the interpreter will be reassigned. [This should be reported on your timesheet as (student initials) “no show”, (student initials) 1.0 hour]. Failure to report to DRC will result in no payment for that class period. The one exception is classes that begin when DRC is closed.

If the student wishes to attend the class after the interpreter has left and the interpreter has not yet been reassigned and is still available, she/he will go to class with the student (e.g. if the interpreter is in the Donaghey Student Center and a student informs the interpreter that she/he will attend the end of the class, the interpreter must interpret the remaining class time).

Interpreters are not to bill for assignments cancelled with at least 24 hours notice. Announcements in class are considered 24-hour notice. In daily classes the day before is considered 24 hours notice. Interpreters should also ask the professor for a class syllabus, and any classes designated in the class syllabus as canceled should be considered as notice.

If 24 hours notification is not possible, the interpreter will be paid for the assignment. However, if a documented good faith effort to contact the interpreter at least 24 hours in advance is made and DRC is still unable to contact her/him, the interpreter will not be paid for the assignment.

For evening classes after DRC closes and for weekend classes, the interpreter is free to leave after waiting the required time. Interpreters should exchange phone numbers with students (if both agree) so that students may notify interpreters of an absence prior to class.


Consistency throughout the semester is very important. When an interpreter accepts classes for the semester, DRC expects the interpreter to maintain that schedule of classes throughout the semester. However it is understood that substitutions may be needed from time to time for emergencies, illness or doctor appointments.

Requesting a substitute in order to accept an off-campus interpreting assignment is not considered an appropriate request. Exceptions may be approved by DRC on a case-by-case basis.

When a substitute is needed, the interpreter is responsible for making a formal request by emailing the Interpreter Coordinator.  Interpreters should make all substitution requests in advance if possible.   For emergencies and illness, notify the Interpreter Coordinator by phone or text as soon as possible.

Chronic absences may result in dismissal for the remainder of the semester. Reliability will be a consideration when filling classes in future semesters.

Back to the top

Team Approach

DRC, the student, faculty, notetaker, transcriber and interpreter work together as an educational team for the purpose of creating a fully accessible learning environment. Each member of the team has a vital and specific role. In order to create an equitable learning experience, all team members must actively fulfill their respective roles.


  • follow the RID Code of Professional Conduct
  • interpret lectures, discussions, movies and all asides in the classroom setting
  • provide interpreting services to the best of her/his ability
  • keep all information regarding interpreting assignments confidential
  • facilitate communication between persons who are hearing and persons who are deaf or hard of hearing as accurately as possible
  • show up on time for assignments
  • be professional in all aspects of the interpreting assignment
  • dress appropriately wearing clothes that contrast with skin color and are not distracting to the student
  • prepare for class by reviewing textbooks, handouts and movies ahead of time
  • if student is absent or late, stay 20 minutes unless notified otherwise
  • remain outside of the classroom until the student arrives, which will lessen any disruption to the classroom if the student is absent and the interpreter has to leave
  • any problems with the student should be discussed directly with her/him before coming to talk to a DRC staff person
  • contact the Interpreter Coordinator with comments or concerns


  • meet with DRC staff person for initial appointment
  • for interpreter requests outside of regularly scheduled class times, complete the Interpreter Request Form two weeks prior to the event (or as soon as the need for an interpreter is discovered)
  • on the first day of class or in any new situation, identify yourself to the interpreter
  • be on time for all classes, labs and meetings
  • sit in a place that provides the best distance, lighting, background, and angle for seeing the interpreter
  • direct questions relating to the class materials to the professor, not the interpreter
  • personal conversations with the interpreter should not occur during class
  • complete academic advising and registration for classes as soon as possible
  • notify the Interpreter/Transcriber Coordinator of your schedule at least 10 business days prior to the first day of class (students who do will be given priority when scheduling services).
  • pick up notetaker flyers to give the instructor the first day of class
  • request Faculty Notification Letters
  • any problems with the interpreter should be discussed directly with her/him before coming to talk to a DRC staff person
  • notify the Interpreter Coordinator if the interpreter does not come to class
  • inform the interpreter of any planned absences, if the class is cancelled or is late, if there will be a video shown in class, or if the student will be making a presentation
  • know and abide by all UALR and DRC policies, rules and regulations.


  • provide qualified interpreters
  • help students determine which accommodations are appropriate and explain how these services will be provided
  • assist faculty and staff members in working with interpreters
  • meet with students and/or professors as needed

Back to the top

Interpreter Responsibilities

Ethics and Confidentiality

Interpreters are expected to adhere to the RID Code of Professional Conduct. They are to provide interpreting services to the best of their ability and not allow personal feelings to interfere in the interpreting process. When interpreters socialize with students outside of the classroom, they should keep all information about interpreting assignments confidential, regardless of how inconsequential the information may seem.

Here are suggested phrases to maintain confidentiality:

  • I am not at liberty to say.
  • I am sorry, that information is confidential.
  • I am not sure.
  • I don’t know.
  • I only see the student in class.
  • I don’t know the student personally.
  • I am not able to discuss that information.
  • I can’t answer that question, but I would be happy to interpret if you would like to ask the student directly.
  • The student could probably answer that better than I could.
  • DRC could probably answer that question for you. Let me give you their phone number.
  • I am sorry, I am not able to step out of my role of interpreting during class time.
  • If you have concerns you would like to address concerning the interpreter in your class you might want to talk to DRC. Let me give you their phone number.

First Day of Class

It is important to start out the semester on the right foot. Here are some recommendations for the first day of class:

  • Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early to introduce yourself to the instructor and student.
  • Discuss with the student his/her preferred mode of communication.
  • Use the team approach to best establish preferred placement within the classroom (i.e. standing by the board, sitting near the desk).
  • Obtain a syllabus in order to be better prepared.
  • After class has been dismissed, solicit feedback from the instructor. Encourage continued open communication throughout the semester.
  • Promptly communicate any changes in room or instructor to the Interpreter Coordinator.

Messages/Exchange of Information

We ask that all interpreters who work for UALR provide updated contact information to the Interpreter Coordinator. If your email address or mobile number changes, please notify the Interpreter Coordinator. This information is needed for hourly interpreters to receive possible schedule changes and any non-emergency phone messages.

In case of an emergency phone call, every possible effort will be made to contact you wherever you are on campus. Therefore, it is important that the office know if your scheduled class has been cancelled or changed location.

Interpreter/Student Interaction

Interpreters should not have conversations with deaf students or other students during class time. Visitation should be done before and after the class. If another student in the class asks for information about what the interpreter is doing, the interpreter should politely let the student know she/he is not able to discuss it during class, but could answer before or after the class. When answering questions about interpreting from faculty and other students, the interpreter should provide only general information, keeping in mind the importance of confidentiality regarding the deaf student.

Interpreters should be careful when talking with students (both deaf and hearing) before and after class. Interpreters should not discuss anything related to the class. Comments made may influence the students’ class work and/or their original ideas. As a result, the work the students provide is not 100% their own.

Team Interpreting

Due to duration or intensity, some classes require two interpreters. Team interpreters should support one another on assignments. At all times, both interpreters are “on duty” and should not take care of personal business until there is a break. While one interpreter is signing/voicing, the other interpreter should be attentive, supportive, and ready to feed information when needed. Cues for requesting assistance should be agreed upon prior to the start of the assignment. The task of interpreting should be equally distributed between both team members whenever possible.

When in a team interpreting situation, it is only necessary for one interpreter to be present on test days. The team should decide which one will interpret on a given test day (e.g., alternating days or one interpreter taking all test days). If no decision can be made, the Interpreter Coordinator will make the final decision. When a staff interpreter is in the class, the staff interpreter will interpret on test days unless otherwise arranged.

On non-test days, both team interpreters are expected to stay until the end of the designated time. Because of the interpreter shortage, exceptions may be made. Interpreters should make these arrangements in advance with the Interpreter Coordinator. If an interpreter does leave before the class or assignment ends, she/he should bill only for time worked.

If a class is longer than an hour and 15 minutes, and DRC has not been able to find a team interpreter, the interpreter may then request to take a break. The Interpreter Coordinator will clarify this with the instructor and the interpreter.

Interpreting Videos

DRC is making every effort to ensure that videos on campus are captioned. If a video is captioned, the interpreter is not responsible for interpreting the video. If the video is not captioned, the interpreter is responsible for interpreting the video to the best of her/his ability.

The interpreter should refer the professor to the DRC office for information on captioning videos. Captioning films on campus is a very lengthy process. Interpreters should not give the impression that a video can be captioned in a short amount of time. Interpreters should inform DRC of any concerns related to videos in the classroom as soon as possible.

Dress Code

Although there is no formal dress code at UALR, Disability Resource Center supports the RID Code of Professional Conduct regarding appropriate and professional dress. Interpreters should dress in a manner that is consistent with the general dress of instructors on campus. This does not include sweats, shirts with holes, mini skirts, mini shorts, or jeans that are worn out, have holes or are frayed. Interpreters should wear clothes that contrast with skin color and are not distracting.

Mobile Devices

Interpreters should take care of personal business at times other than during assignments with UALR. Because mobile devices can interfere with the quality of interpreting services and disrupt the setting, interpreters are expected to turn them off or silence them during the assignment. Interpreters may check their devices if a break occurs, but should not respond to calls or texts during an assignment.

Back to the top



The Interpreter Coordinator will send several evaluations during the semester: student evaluation of the interpreter, faculty evaluation of the interpreter, and interpreter evaluation of the semester. Student and faculty evaluations will assist the interpreter in identifying strengths and areas for improvement. Student evaluations of the interpreter will be administered at mid-term and near the end of each semester. Faculty evaluations of the interpreter will be administered near the end of each semester. DRC will attempt to provide evaluation summaries in a timely manner. Interpreters, as part of the DRC team, will complete an interpreter evaluation of the semester in order to provide valuable feedback to the Interpreter Coordinator for future planning.

Due Process

If DRC receives a complaint about an interpreting situation from students, faculty or staff, the Interpreter Coordinator will meet with the interpreter involved. If a complaint about the same problem is reported more than once, the interpreter involved will meet with the Interpreter Coordinator and the Director of DRC. If this specific complaint continues, the decision may be made to terminate the interpreter’s services. Depending on the nature or seriousness of the complaint, a decision may be made to terminate services at an earlier stage in this process.


UALR interpreters interact with students, faculty, staff and the community. Relationships with a variety of people will inevitably develop, and positive professional relationships and networking within the profession are strongly encouraged. However certain personal relationships with students are unacceptable within the context of a working relationship.

Interpreters will not be placed in assignments that could threaten to compromise their commitment to the RID Code of Professional Conduct. Examples of this include but are not limited to interpreting for family members and romantic interests. As stated in the RID Standard Practice Papers, “The relative may have attitudinal or emotional issues that could affect objectivity and impartiality and prevent accurate communication.” The deaf person’s right to privacy and confidentiality could easily be compromised.

Any questions about the ethics of a relational situation should be directed to the Interpreter Coordinator.

Continuing Education and Licensure

Nationally certified interpreters must maintain their certification through participation in the RID Certification Maintenance Program. All other interpreters are expected to maintain their Quality Assurance Screening Test certification. Interpreters, regardless of their certification level, are encouraged to join professional organizations, attend workshops, and keep abreast of issues, standards and practices within the interpreting profession.  Licensure must be maintained in order to interpret at UALR.

Health Tips

Interpreters are encouraged to maintain good health habits on a routine basis. Attention to diet, exercise, and positions when seated or standing can help prevent syndromes associated with overuse (cumulative trauma disorder).

Just as an athlete warms up before engaging in physical activity and cools down afterward, interpreters should physically prepare themselves with simple exercises for a few minutes before interpreting, during the day, and at the end of the day. One such exercise involves gently moving each wrist up and down and from side to side. Another is a handshake exercise, to be done with a partner. Another suggestion is to squeeze a soft tennis ball, or manipulate Silly Putty. When seated for interpreting, sit straight in the chair. Do not cross your legs. This helps prevent stress on the back and shoulders. Other interpreters have suggested that prior to interpreting in a cold classroom, running hands under warm water or a hand dryer is helpful. Wearing thin gloves (liners) after interpreting can also be effective.

Note: The above information comes from a presentation by Chiropractor Peter Biondi (Franklin Park) at the Illinois Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Convention, June 7, 1986.

Random Observations

Random observations of each interpreter may take place a various times throughout the course of the semester. Observations may or may not be announced in advance. The purpose of these observations is to document the interpreter’s attendance, promptness, professionalism and to note whether the interpreter is staying in his/her role while in the classroom setting.

IEP Students

DRC supports the Interpreter Education Program by allowing students to observe classroom interpreters as part of their practicum experience. The Interpreter Coordinator will attempt to inform interpreters ahead of time when a student will be in the class. The practicum student will be instructed to identify himself or herself to the interpreter. The interpreter has no responsibility to the practicum student. However if the student asks questions, and the interpreter has time to respond, it would be of great benefit to the student (future interpreter) to answer appropriately. Practicum students are required to follow all aspects of the UALR Interpreter Policy and the RID Code of Professional Conduct. If the practicum student fails to do so, the interpreter should talk with the student to resolve the problem. If the problem persists, the interpreter should talk with the Interpreter Coordinator, who will then speak with the student and/or the practicum supervisor.

Inclement Weather

If the weather appears hazardous, please refer to the inclement weather policy for UALR. Information regarding school closings will also be posted on the UALR website,

Back to the top


Pay Scale

RID Certification RID Hourly Rate NAD Certification NAD Hourly Rate NIC Certification NIC Hourly Rate QAST Level QAST Hourly Rate
Multiple $35.00 5 $34.00 Master $36.00 5 $25.00
CI or CT $34.00 4 $30.00 Advanced $35.00 4 $23.00
IC/TC/RSC $27.00 3 $26.00 NIC $34.00 3 $21.00
IC/TC $27.00

Increases in pay rate due to the interpreter successfully achieving a higher certification level will be implemented at the beginning of the next pay cycle. The Interpreter Coordinator must first be provided with written confirmation from the testing organization.

MWF/MW/TR 50 min 1 hour
MW/TR 1 hr 15 min 1.5 hours
once a week 2 hr 40 min 3 hours

For other classes that meet once a week (for example, a 2 credit hour class), round the actual time up to the nearest quarter hour. For example, if a class is scheduled for 2 hours and 10 minutes, the interpreter would bill 2.25 hours.

If an interpreter is going to be late for a class, she/he should inform DRC or the Interpreter Coordinator and arrive as soon as possible. Interpreters should only bill for time worked, to the nearest quarter hour (e.g., if 5 minutes late for a 50 minute class, bill for .75 hour (45 minutes).

Time Sheets

Timesheets must be filled out properly and submitted on time, weekly by close of business Friday.

It is the interpreter’s responsibility to fill the time sheets out correctly.  If there are any questions, the interpreter should feel free to come to the interpreter office (DSC 113) for assistance, or to the Office Manager in DSC 103.  Submitting time sheets filled out incorrectly or turned in late will result in a delay of payment of at least one pay period.

Misrepresenting time worked is considered stealing and will result in immediate action, possibly including suspension or termination of services.

Checks/Direct Deposit

Interpreters must complete a direct deposit request form (available in the DRC office).

Checks are deposited on the 15th and the last day of each month. Pay stub information is available on the web at


We have collaborated with various departments across campus to gain hourly interpreters some additional perks:

  • free admission to the fitness center
  • 10% bookstore discount on most items
  • access to health care through Health Services
  • free admission to many cultural events on campus
  • parking


Back to the top

Acknowledgement of Policies and Procedures

All service providers are required to submit an acknowledgement of agreement form indicating that they have read, understand, and agree to follow all UALR policies and procedures.  Please follow this link to the agreement form.