Requests for Interpreters are made either directly by Deaf, Deaf-Blind, late deafened, hard of hearing and hearing individuals and/or agencies, organizations, schools, employers, businesses, doctors, hospitals, police departments, courts and other entities seeking to make themselves accessible to the former.

It is generally the payee - the party legally responsible under state and federal law for provision and payment for such service - that initiates the request.

How do I request an interpreter or CART provider?

Requests are received by the Department of Interpreter/CART Services in several ways:

  1. Online request : This is the preferred way for making requests. The service may not be used for cancellations.
  2. Phone: non-emergencies are received between 8:45 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at 617-740-1600 VOICE and 617-740-1700 TTY. Legal emergencies are received 24 hours 7 days/week at 800-249-9949 TTY/VOICE.
  3. FAX: 617-740-1880 with an Interpreter/CART Request Form pdf format of Interpreter/CART Request Fax Form
doc format of Interpreter/CART Request Fax Form

NOTE: Making a request DOES NOT GUARANTEE SERVICE. (See "service is subject to availability" below.)

What information must I provide for intake?

  1. Name, telephone number and organization (if applicable) of the requester
  2. Date and time an interpreter/transliterator/CART provider is needed and the anticipated length of the assignment
  3. Address of the assignment including additional specifics necessary for finding the location (i.e., the name or number of the building, court, clinic, floor, room, etc.)
  4. The type of request and the format of the request (i.e., medical appointment, platform lecture, staff meeting, civil or criminal court case, etc.)
  5. Other identifying information associated with the assignment such as a court case docket number or the number of a seminar listing and the trainer's name and contact information (i.e., phone #, email, etc.)
  6. Names of all participants if possible. The number of participants expected. (The Department needs to know who the participants are i.e., will the Governor be there?)
  7. Equipment the format will use, such as microphones, overhead projector, video, etc.
  8. Names of all participants needing interpreter services and their preferred mode of communication (ASL, PSE, Oral transliteration, CART).
  9. Names of those specifically requesting CART services. List of CART equipment needed from the Commission (projector, microphone, etc.)
  10. Names of the consumer-preferred interpreters/transliterators/CART providers requested. Names of interpreters a consumer may wish to avoid.
  11. Name and telephone numbers of the contact person at the assignment (the "on-site contact person." Often requesters are not at the event/meeting. Interpreters need the name of an on-site contact to ask for when they arrive).
  12. "Payer" or "billing" information: the name, address, and telephone numbers of the person responsible for paying for the interpreter. (Requests cannot be processed without confirmed billing information.)

Why is the request job number important?

Once intake is complete, requesters are informed of the job number for their request. This job number confirms that a request has been made and that the Department is working to fill it. Job numbers are useful for tracking a request online through the Virtual Gateway or by calling the Department. They do not guarantee that a request will be filled, however, since filling requests is based on the availability of interpreters/providers.

Why can't the Department guarantee my request will be filled?

Service is subject to availability: The filling of all requests is subject to the availability of appropriate providers, and there are simply not enough interpreters to handle all of the requests received by the Department. For this reason, requests should be called in as early as possible, particularly if there are consumer preferences for specific interpreters, and also to ensure the Department has enough lead time to maximize the chance a request has of being filled.

Interpreters often fill their schedule 3 weeks to 3 months in advance. The Department asks that requesters call with a minimum of 2 weeks lead time whenever possible, and never with less than 2 business days of advance notice unless the request is an emergency. Requesters should also be aware that they have a better chance of their request getting filled if they can be flexible with the time and/or date for their assignment.

Emergencies receive priority: Priority for filling requests goes to those requests involving urgent mental health, medical, and/or legal matters.

How are interpreters selected?

Interpreters are selected for jobs according to the needs of the Deaf or Hard of Hearing consumer(s) who require service: the selection of an interpreter for an assignment is based on matching an interpreter's expertise to the communication needs of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened, or Deaf/Blind person(s) needing the service. It is also based on the skills required by the particular nature of each job.

Consumer preferences are honored whenever possible: Requesters should try to obtain the names of consumer-preferred providers so that the Department can research their availability. Consumer-preferred interpreters/transliterators/CART providers are contacted first by the Department in an attempt to honor consumer preferences. Since service is subject to availability, filling requests with preferred providers cannot be guaranteed.

How many interpreters are needed?

The number of interpreters needed for an assignment is based on the duration and intensity of the assignment.

The following general guidelines are used:

  • 1 1/2 HOURS OR LESS & NO NATURAL BREAKS = ONE INTERPRETER. Assignments are 1 1/2 hours or less with no natural breaks (such as lectures, discussions, meetings, trainings, etc.) but the requester agrees to take a break halfway through the agenda require one interpreter.
  • 2 HOURS OR LESS WITH NATURAL BREAKS = ONE INTERPRETER. Assignments of 2 hours with natural breaks (i.e., a medical appointment, or a hands-on training in which the consumer works independently at times) require one interpreter.
  • >2 HOUR & NO NATURAL OR PLANNED BREAKS = 2 INTERPRETERS Assignments longer than 2 hours with no natural or planned breaks require two interpreters.
  • Assignments for consumers with unique needs (Deaf/Blind, CDI need, etc.) require additional interpreters.
  • Assignments involving concurrent sessions, a large audience or multiple consumers with varying communication needs will require additional interpreters.

Who pays for the interpreter/CART services?

Paying for the service is the responsibility of the entity requesting the service: according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, if the requester represents a public or private organization that is non-religious, payment for interpreter services is the responsibility of this organization (as a "public accommodation" under the ADA).

Note, too, that any request for interpreter services made through the Commission is considered a binding verbal contract. Payers will be held responsible for paying for the interpreter service as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

How much do interpreter/CART services cost?

Interpreters are paid for state jobs according to a rate structure that is based on their certifications and levels of experience (see www.mass.gov/mcdhh and click "information for interpreters" on the far left for the current "interpreter fee schedule"). For private jobs, interpreters negotiate their own rates. For a 2 hour assignment, requesters may anticipate a bill in the range of $100-$150 (which includes travel and mileage expenses).

There is a two hour minimum charge for each interpreter request; and a three hour minimum charge for CART services. Assignments are billed for a minimum of 2 hours of a provider' time (as an "appearance fee") or however long the assignment takes, whichever is greater.

Travel time and mileage reimbursement may also be billed. Reimbursement for these expenses will be negotiated between interpreters and private requesters. State paid jobs follow a formula for travel time and mileage reimbursement that is available from the Department upon request.

Who bills for interpreter/CART provider services?

Freelance interpreters and CART providers bill payers directly. In some cases MCDHH staff interpreters provide community services, in which case the Commonwealth will bill the paying entity for the service of those staff interpreters. Otherwise payers can expect to receive bills from interpreters directly.

When will I know if the request is or can be filled?

Requesters are notified as soon as the request is filled. The latest this will occur is by the request's "notification date," which is usually 2 business days before the assignment date (see below).

Requesters are notified if the request remains unfilled by their request's "notification date". Notification dates are determined with a requester at intake and are always negotiable. If an assignment is difficult to reschedule (such as for a conference, certain meetings, etc.), and no interpreters are found available to fill it, requesters are generally notified by the Department one week prior to the assignment date. This is called the "notification period." If the requester so chooses, the Department will continue looking for interpreters until 2 business days prior to the assignment (a 2 day notification period). For less complex jobs, a 2 business-day notification period is standard for alerting a requester of an unfilled job.

What if I need to make a change to the request?

Requesters must notify the Department of any changes to their requests ASAP. Changes in location, consumers served, date, time, or billing information must be conveyed as soon as possible to the Department. Such changes often entail the withdrawal (or cancellation) of the initial request and the submission of a new request (since, for example, a change in date renders null and void all previous interpreter contacts made by the Department). Such changes often trigger the need to start the referral process over again and in the case of cancelled requests, may have expensive financial implications for the requester/payer (see below).

What happens if I need to cancel the request?

The cancellation date determines the requester's financial liability: Requesters must cancel filled requests with more than 2 business days notice (48 hours) in order to avoid being billed for the service. If cancellation occurs with less than 2 business days notice, payers will be charged for the time booked, as it is generally too late for interpreters to replace the work. Note that an assignment is considered cancelled if it is withdrawn after it has been filled with an interpreter (i.e. "booked" with an assigned interpreter).

Consumer no-shows will be paid. In the event that a Deaf or Hard of Hearing consumer fails to show for an assignment, the attending interpreter(s) will still be paid for their scheduled time; however, if interpreters cancel, they must find a replacement. This is because interpreters booked on assignments "own" those assignments and must find an MCDHH approved replacement should they cancel. If the circumstances are an emergency and the Commission is open, the Department of Interpreter/CART Referral will attempt to find a replacement and notify the requester. In the event of inclement weather, it is the interpreter's job to contact the requester and negotiate the circumstances (and then notify the Department of the outcome).

Who can I call with additional questions?

Contact Michael Krajnak, Supervisor of the Referral Department, with any questions you may have at 617-740-1600 Voice, 617-326-7546 Videophone or by email at Michael.Krajnak@state.ma.us.

How do I give the Department feedback on Referral, Interpreting and CART services?

The Department encourages requesters to share feedback, compliments and complaints in order to help ensure high quality services. Feedback may be directed to:

Dianne Shearer, Director of the Department of Interpreter/CART Services
600 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
617-326-7546 VP
617-740-1880 FAX
Dianne.Shearer@state.ma.us
9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday

Feedback on Interpreter or CART Services


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.