A step-by-step guide to asking for an interpreter

2 weeks ahead

  • Call the person in charge.
  • Tell them you are deaf.
  • Ask for a sign language interpreter.

What if they say “no”?

  • Explain your rights.
  • Tell them that English is not your first language.
  • Ask for an interpreter.

Still say “no”?

  • Tell the person you will send a letter.
  • Send the letter right away (sample letter)
  • Keep a copy of what you send for yourself.

1 Week Ahead

  • Call the person in charge.
  • Ask if an interpreter has been hired for your appointment.

If the answer is still “no”?

  • Tell the person that you will make a complaint against them.
  • Ask an advocate for help.

How to ask for an interpreter: communication points

Hi, I am a person who is deaf. I will need a sign language interpreter during our upcoming meeting or appointment. Will you provide an interpreter?

What can you say if the person says “no”?

  • My first language is American Sign Language.
  • Did you know that ASL is a different language from English?
  • I can read and write English but not very well.
  • A sign language interpreter allows both of us to talk to each other in our first language.

If the person still says “no”

Once the person says “yes”

If you need help advocating for a sign language interpreter in a medical setting, view this fact sheet.