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• Allow only one person to speak at a time.

• For longer proceedings with continuous interpreting, the court should hire a team of two interpreters.

The teaming allows the interpreters to switch roles every 15 to 20 minutes which will ensure effective


Are there other accommodations the court should provide?

For court proceedings, courts will need to use a qualified sign language interpreter if the individual’s primary

or preferred language is sign language. However, for informal and brief interactions with staff, the court may

find other accommodations, such as written communication, are effective. Examples of informal and brief

interactions are the in-person confirmation of the date and time of a hearing or an interaction confirming the

location of jury duty.

Occasionally, a person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing may request something other than a sign-language

interpreter, such as CART, intermediary interpreters, oral interpreters, or assistive listening devices. The

court should give primary consideration to the communication method requested.

Is there anything else I should know?

Ideally, courts should have a clear procedure in place for arranging for a qualified interpreter and should

verify that staff are aware of the court’s obligation to provide such interpreters and procedures for doing so.

The process for requesting a qualified interpreter should also be publicized so that individuals will be aware

of proper procedures.

If you have any questions about an interpreter’s performance or want to file a complaint, contact the DARS

Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at 512-407-3250 or by e-mail at


To file a written complaint by mail: DARS DHHS, at P.O. Box 12904 Austin, TX 78711.


to download an electronic version of this document.



Brian East and Lia Davis are attorneys with Disability Rights Texas (DRTx). DRTx is the federally designated protection and advocacy

agency for people with disabilities in Texas. Our mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law,

ensuring their full and equal participation in society. For more information about our services, visit

or call (512) 454-4816. The

content of this article was created for a project funded by a grant from the State Bar of Texas Litigation Section.

2 Tex. Gov’t. Code § 57.002.

3 Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 21.006.

4 BEI/DARS means the Board of Evaluation of Interpreters at the Texas Department of Rehabilitative Services.

5 Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 21.003.

6 Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 21.005.