Deaf or Hard of Hearing Interpreters


For information on certified court interpreters, visit the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearings Services (DARS) website by clicking here.

• For the Code of Professional Conduct for certified interpreters, click here.

• For information on the Board of Evaluation for Interpreters and becoming a certified interpreter, click here.

 

To find a certified interpreter for deaf or hard of hearing services, click here.

 


Laws on Interpreters for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Persons

Article 38.31, Code of Criminal Procedure: Interpreters for Deaf Persons

(a) If the court is notified by a party that the defendant is deaf and will be present at an arraignment, hearing, examining trial, or trial, or that a witness is deaf and will be called at a hearing, examining trial, or trial, the court shall appoint a qualified interpreter to interpret the proceedings in any language that the deaf person can understand, including but not limited to sign language. On the court's motion or the motion of a party, the court may order testimony of a deaf witness and the interpretation of that testimony by the interpreter visually, electronically recorded for use in verification of the transcription of the reporter's notes. The clerk of the court shall include that recording in the appellate record if requested by a party under Article 40.09 of this Code.  

(b) Following the filing of an indictment, information, or complaint against a deaf defendant, the court on the motion of the defendant shall appoint a qualified interpreter to interpret in a language that the defendant can understand, including but not limited to sign language, communications concerning the case between the defendant and defense counsel. The interpreter may not disclose a communication between the defendant and defense counsel or a fact that came to the attention of the interpreter while interpreting those communications if defense counsel may not disclose that communication or fact.  

(c) In all cases where the mental condition of a person is being considered and where such person may be committed to a mental institution, and where such person is deaf, all of the court proceedings pertaining to him shall be interpreted by a qualified interpreter appointed by the court.  

(d) A proceeding for which an interpreter is required to be appointed under this Article may not commence until the appointed interpreter is in a position not exceeding ten feet from and in full view of the deaf person.  

(e) The interpreter appointed under the terms of this Article shall be required to take an oath that he will make a true interpretation to the person accused or being examined, which person is deaf, of all the proceedings of his case in a language that he understands; and that he will repeat said deaf person's answer to questions to counsel, court, or jury, in the English language, in his best skill and judgment.  

(f) Interpreters appointed under this Article are entitled to a reasonable fee determined by the court after considering the recommendations of the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. When travel of the interpreter is involved all the actual expenses of travel, lodging, and meals incurred by the interpreter pertaining to the case he is appointed to serve shall be paid at the same rate applicable to state employees.  

(g) In this Code:  

(1) "Deaf person" means a person who has a hearing impairment, regardless of whether the person also has a speech impairment, that inhibits the person's comprehension of the proceedings or communication with others.  

(2) "Qualified interpreter" means an interpreter for the deaf who holds a current legal certificate issued by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf or a current court interpreter certificate issued by the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters at the Department of Assistive or Rehabilitative Services.

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Section 57.001, Government Code: Definitions

(1) "Certified court interpreter" means an individual who is a qualified interpreter as defined in Article 38.31, Code of Criminal Procedure, or Section 21.003, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, or certified under Subchapter B by the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

(2) "Department" means the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

(3) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

(4) "Hearing-impaired individual" means an individual who has a hearing impairment, regardless of whether the individual also has a speech impairment, that inhibits the individual's comprehension of proceedings or communication with others.

(5) "Licensed court interpreter" means an individual licensed under Subchapter C by the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation to interpret court proceedings for an individual who can hear but who does not comprehend English or communicate in English.

(6) "Real-time captioning" means transcribing the spoken words of an oral proceeding to simultaneously project the words on a screen.

(7) "Court proceeding" includes an arraignment, deposition, mediation, court-ordered arbitration, or other form of alternative dispute resolution.

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Section 57.002, Government Code: Appointment of Interpreter

(a) A court shall appoint a certified court interpreter or a licensed court interpreter if a motion for the appointment of an interpreter is filed by a party or requested by a witness in a civil or criminal proceeding in the court.

(b) A court may, on its own motion, appoint a certified court interpreter or a licensed court interpreter.

(b-1) A licensed court interpreter appointed by a court under Subsection (a) or (b) must hold a license that includes the appropriate designation under Section 57.043(d) that indicates the interpreter is permitted to interpret in that court.

(c) Subject to Subsection (e), in a county with a population of less than 50,000, a court may appoint a spoken language interpreter who is not a licensed court interpreter.

(d) Subject to Subsection (e), in a county with a population of 50,000 or more, a court may appoint a spoken language interpreter who is not a certified or licensed court interpreter if:

(1) the language necessary in the proceeding is a language other than Spanish; and

(2) the court makes a finding that there is no licensed court interpreter within 75 miles who can interpret in the language that is necessary in a proceeding.

(d-1) Subject to Subsection (e), a court in a county to which Section 21.021, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, applies may appoint a spoken language interpreter who is not a licensed court interpreter.

(e) A person appointed under Subsection (c) or (d):

(1) must be qualified by the court as an expert under the Texas Rules of Evidence;

(2) must be at least 18 years of age; and

(3) may not be a party to the proceeding.

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Section 57.021, Government Code: Court Interpreter Certification Program

(a) The department shall certify court interpreters to interpret court proceedings for a hearing-impaired individual.

(b) The department may contract with public or private educational institutions to administer a training program and by rule may provide for suspension of training offered by an institution if the training fails to meet requirements established by the department.

(c) The department shall maintain a list of certified court interpreters and other persons the department has determined are qualified to act as court interpreters and shall send the list to each state court and, on request, to other interested persons.

(d) The department may maintain a list of persons certified by the Texas Court Reporters Association as qualified to provide communication access real-time translation services for a hearing-impaired individual in a court proceeding and, on request, may send the list to a person or court.

(e) The department may accept gifts, grants, or donations from private individuals, foundations, or other entities to assist in administering the court interpreter certification program under this section.

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Section 57.022, Government Code: Certification; Rules

(a) The department shall certify an applicant who passes the appropriate examination prescribed by the department and who possesses the other qualifications required by rules adopted under this subchapter.

(b) The executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission by rule shall provide for:

(1) the qualifications of certified court interpreters;

(2) training programs for certified court interpreters each of which is managed by the department or by a public or private educational institution;

(3) the administration of examinations;

(4) the form for each certificate and procedures for renewal of a certificate;

(5) the fees for training, examination, initial certification, and certification renewal;

(6) continuing education programs under this subchapter;

(7) instructions for the compensation of a certified court interpreter and the designation of the party or entity responsible for payment of compensation; and

(8) administrative sanctions enforceable by the department.

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Section 57.023, Government Code: Examinations

(a) The department shall prepare examinations under this subchapter that test an applicant's knowledge, skill, and efficiency in the field in which the applicant seeks certification.

(b) A person who fails an examination may apply for reexamination at the next examination scheduled after the date the person failed the original examination.

(c) Examinations shall be offered in the state at least twice a year at times and places designated by the department.

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Section 57.024, Government Code: Duties of the Commissioner

(a) The commissioner shall enforce this subchapter.

(b) The commissioner shall investigate allegations of violations of this subchapter.

 

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Section 57.025, Government Code: Denial, Suspension, or Revocation of Certificate

(a) The executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission shall adopt rules establishing the grounds for denial, suspension, revocation, and reinstatement of a certificate issued under this subchapter. The department may revoke or suspend certification under this subchapter only after a hearing.

(b) The department may reissue a certificate to a person whose certificate has been revoked if the person applies in writing to the department and shows good cause to justify reissuance of the certificate.

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Section 57.026, Government Code: Prohibited Acts

A person may not interpret for a hearing-impaired individual at a court proceeding or advertise or represent that the person is a certified court interpreter unless the person holds an appropriate certificate under this subchapter.

Section 57.027, Government Code: Criminal Offense; Administrative Penalty

(a) A person commits an offense if the person violates this subchapter or a rule adopted under this subchapter. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.

(b) A person who violates this subchapter or a rule adopted under this subchapter is subject to an administrative penalty assessed by the department.

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Section 62.1041, Government Code: Deaf or Hard of Hearing Juror

(a)  A deaf or hard of hearing person is not disqualified to serve as a juror solely because of hearing loss except as provided by this section.

(b)  A deaf or hard of hearing person is disqualified to serve as a juror if, in the opinion of the court, his hearing loss renders him unfit to serve as a juror in that particular case.

(c)  A deaf or hard of hearing person serving as a juror shall be reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. Section 12101 et seq.).  An interpreter who is assisting a deaf or hard of hearing person serving as a juror may accompany the juror during all proceedings and deliberations in the case.

(d)  If an interpreter is provided to a deaf or hard of hearing person serving as a juror in a district, county, or justice court, the county shall pay the cost of obtaining those services.

(e)  A deaf or hard of hearing juror may request an auxiliary aid or service for a municipal court proceeding.  The city shall honor the request unless the city can demonstrate that another effective means of communication exists.  The city shall pay the cost unless the auxiliary aid or service will result in a fundamental alteration of the municipal court proceeding or in undue financial or administrative burdens.

(f)  In this section, "deaf or hard of hearing" means having a hearing impairment, regardless of the existence of a speech impairment, that inhibits comprehension of an examination or proceeding or communication with others.