Interpreting Glossary

Note: Unless otherwise described, all acronyms here are pronounced as individual letters rather than words; e.g., “A–S–L,” not “Azzle.”

American Sign Language, the signed language used by deaf and hard-of-hearing people throughout North America, with the exception of Quebec.
Certified Deaf Interpreter
CI [1]
Certificate of Interpretation, the certificate awarded by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) to those who pass their proficiency tests to become certified interpreters for the deaf. This certificate was retired.
CI [2]
Consecutive interpreting. Interpreter listens to one speaker for a short time, possibly taking notes, and renders an interpretation when the speaker has finished speaking. In CI, only one person is speaking at one time. It gives the interpreter more time to process the language and has been shown to increase accuracy and naturalness (Russell, 2000).
“Conference of Interpreter trainers is a professional organization dedicated to laying the educational foundations for interpreters to build bridges of understanding. While focused primarily on interpreters working between American Sign Language and English, we welcome educators who work with other languages, whether signed or spoken.”
Child of Deaf Adults. Generally used to denote Hearing people whose parents are/were Deaf. CODAs in the ASL-English interpreting field are usually the native signers whose parents signed with them at home.
NAD–RID Code of Professional Conduct. The professional code of ethics created jointly by the NAD and RID, merging the older NAD Code of Ethics with the RID Code of Ethics and expanding upon many ethical considerations and behaviors involved in various aspects of the interpreting profession.
Certificate of Transliteration, the certificate awarded by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) to those who pass their proficiency tests to become certified transliterators for the deaf.
Demand Control Schema. A framework (schema) and taxonomy for analyzing and discussing interpreting work and the ethical decisions we make (controls), taking all circumstances (demands) into consideration. (Dean & Pollard, 2001, based on Karasek, 1979).
Deaf Interpreter working with a Hearing Interpreter (HI).
Hearing Interpreter working with a Deaf Interpreter (DI).
The process of conveying one spoken or signed language into another. Interpretation is performed “live” and “on-the-fly.”
National Association of the Deaf, a national American organization of deaf and hard-of-hearing people and those who are aligned with their goals. They also offer a written and performance test to determine levels of competency in sign language interpreting and transliterating.
National Interpreter Certification, the current national certification offered by RID.
Oral Transliteration
The process of making speech visible to a deaf or hard-of-hearing person through precise mouthing of words and the use of facial expression, body language, gestures, and air-writing (such as writing an M or a B in the air to distinguish “million” from “billion” which look similar on the lips).
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, a national American organization of interpreters and transliterators for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. RID offers written tests and performance tests that interpreters and transliterators can take to become certified.
The process of conveying one “frozen” (i.e. not “live”) text (either written or signed and video-recorded) into another frozen text, either written or video-recorded.
The process of representing the phonemes and morphemes of one language into those of another language via an encoding system that is acceptable to the users of the target language (e.g. the phonetic representation of Hebrew—which has its own unique “alef-bet”—in latin characters using English phonemes, or the visual representation of English into sign-encoded English and mouth morphemes that represent English phonemes.)
Simultaneous interpreting. There is no such thing as truly simultaneous interpreting, since all interpreting involves some lag time to allow the interpreting to listen and process, but in SI the interpreter renders the interpretation slightly behind the speaker while the speaker is speaking.
Source text. Text here refers to spoken, signed, or written message, and is what the interpreter or translator interprets or translates from.
Text Relay Service, a service that relays calls made between telephones and TTY’s
Target text. Text here refers to any spoken, signed, or written message, and is what the interpreter or translator interprets or translates into.
Teletype Machine, or Text Telephone
Video Remote Interpreting, a service paid out–of–pocket by the same people who would normally hire an onsite interpreter. This service allows all parties but the interpreter to be in the same room. The interpreter, who works from a remote location such as a call center, is placed in the room via a videoconferencing link.
Video Relay Service, a service that provides ASL interpreters to interpret calls made between telephones and videophones. In the United States this is compensated and regulated by the FCC.

P.S. The RID Standard Practice Papers discuss some of these topics in greater detail.


Dean, R. K. & Pollard, R. Q (2011). Context-based ethical reasoning in interpreting: A demand control schema perspective. Interpreter and Translator Trainer, 5(1), 155-182.

Karasek, R., & Theorell, T. (1990). Healthy work. New York: Basic Books.

Russell, D. (2000). Interpreting in legal contexts: Consecutive and simultaneous interpreting. [Doctoral dissertation]. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary.