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Sign Language Services

The Office of Civil Rights provides a part-time on call Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) for Commerce employees and visitors to the Herbert C. Hoover Building. Some OCR bureaus at other locations also offer Interpreting Services.  Check with your EEO Officer to find out about services at other facilities.

Interpreters are also available to assist with questions about deafness, deaf culture, and communication issues which arise between deaf and hearing co-workers.

Using the Sign Language Interpreting Service

Requesting Interpreting Services: To request services, phone at (202) 482-4481 (Voice) or (202) 888-7763 (VP) or e-mail slanguage@doc.gov. It is always best to request services as early as possible. Any assignment lasting over two hours will need an additional interpreter.

Interpreters for Special Event: OCR 's on-site Sign Language Interpreter service is designed for flexible "short-term" interpreting assignments throughout the regular work day and is limited to the HCHB. If you are hosting a special event such as a conference, training session, employee retreat, or a special all-day meeting, your office or bureau will need to make arrangements to schedule and pay for interpreter service directly. To get a list of sign language interpreters, go to the GSA Schedule 738 II (Language Services).

When to Use an Interpreter: If you are deaf or hard-of-hearing or have a deaf or hard-of-hearing employee or co-worker, you should request an interpreter whenever communication is needed between employee and supervisor or between co-workers during official functions and business hours. Examples of when an interpreter should be used are:

  • One-on-one meetings between employees
  • Team meetings
  • Office staff meetings;

Making Events Accessible:

If you are planning an event open to all employees and/or the public, you must make sign language interpreting services available. Any general announcement or publicity for the event must include a notice that interpreting services are available.

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.