Book an American Sign Language interpreter

  • How can you book an ASL interpreter?
  • What can you book an ASL interpreter for?
  • Use Video Relay Service to communicate for phone calls
  • How to work with an ASL interpreter?
  • How to directly communicate with Deaf persons?

Using an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter makes communication accessible to Deaf people. We provide this service at no cost.

  1. How can you book an ASL interpreter?

    The Diversity and Inclusion branch will try to meet your needs. If we cannot accommodate a particular time, we'll schedule an alternative ASL Interpreter. We'll cover costs when the services needed are for fewer than 2 hours.

    You can book an ASL interpreter by phoning or texting 867-332-4275, or emailing

    Include the following information in your booking request:

    • date(s) you need service;
    • duration and time(s);
    • who the interpreting services are for; and
    • what the interpreting will be about.

    Read our handout about the ASL interpreter service.

    If the request is for a meeting or training

    We'll ask you to provide supporting materials such as an agenda or important documents. You must send materials at least 4 business days before the assignment. Email materials to We only share materials with the ASL interpreter so they can prepare in advance for the context of the assignment.

    If you need to change or cancel a booking

    Contact us as soon as possible. Email or phone 867-332-4275.

    Book a 2nd interpreter for assignments over 2 hours

    Assignments that are more complex or longer than 2 hours require a 2nd ASL interpreter to provide adequate breaks and coverage. The Diversity and Inclusion branch will provide the 1st ASL Interpreter at no cost to you. However, it's up to you to find a 2nd interpreter. Usually you'd do this through a contract. Your organization, or you, must then pay their fees.

    We can give you a list of qualified agencies and people who can help you find a 2nd ASL interpreter.

  2. What can you book an ASL interpreter for?

    The ASL interpreting service is available for a variety of settings. The Diversity and Inclusion branch pays for the service when you book through them.

    Service priorities

    We'll assess requests for ASL interpreting services based on:

    • urgency;
    • length of assignment; and
    • the interpreter’s availability.

    We may use the priorities below to determine the order in which we approve requests.

    Medical and other emergencies

    This could include ambulance, police, legal, or social service incidents or other crises.

    Medical and mental health services

    This could include doctor, counselling, therapeutic activities, specialist, dentist and physiotherapy appointments and day surgeries.

    Social services related appointments

    This could include home care, supported independent living, family and children services and other similar social program appointments.

    Yukon government services

    This could include assistance:

    • accessing Motor Vehicle services;
    • attending appointments with territorial services such as housing and courts;
    • attending parent-teacher interviews or other school events; and
    • providing student support.

    Employment and business meetings

    This could include any workplace meetings, training, job interviews and other work-related occasions.

    Non-government agency or business meetings

    This could include accessing services or participating in meetings with support agencies, financial institutions or legal assistance.

    Activities and daily living

    This could include:

    • attending community social or athletic events;
    • attending religious activities;
    • helping with phone calls;
    • writing documents or forms
    • sitting on boards; or
    • taking special interest courses.

  3. Use Video Relay Service to communicate for phone calls

    Video relay service (VRS) enables people with hearing or speech disabilities to have phone conversations. VRS connects Deaf or Hard of Hearing people with employers, friends, family and service providers.

    The sign language user connects to a VRS operator using internet-based videoconferencing. The operator places a voice call to the other party and relays the conversation from sign language to voice and vice-versa.

    The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and works over:

    • telephone;
    • smart phone;
    • tablet; and
    • desktop computer.

    Find out more about SRV Canada VRS.

  4. How to work with an ASL interpreter?

    Below are some tips to assist you working with an ASL interpreter.

    Using registered and accredited interpreter

    Use a registered and accredited interpreter to ensure an unbiased interaction. An accredited interpreter is a member of the Canadian Association of Sign Language Interpreters (CASLI). They follow the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Professional Conduct.

    Booking and preparing the interpreter

    Try to book the Interpreter at least 2 weeks before your meeting.

    Meet the interpreter in advance and provide them with your preparation material. This will allow them to review the needs of the interpreting process and prepare.

    Do you need a 2nd interpreter?

    We have 1 accredited interpreter to service all Yukoners. We'll work with you to determine if 1 interpreter is enough for your needs. Any meeting over 2 hours long or that's complex in nature, may need 2 interpreters. We'll provide the 1st interpreter, if they're available, at no cost to you. It's up to you to ask for a 2nd interpreter and you'll have to pay their fee.

    Is the interpreter impartial?

    The interpreter provides access to communication between the hearing and the Deaf person. They are not part of the conversation and will not voice their personal opinions. They do not provide advice, counselling or advocacy. They may provide feedback about the interpreting process.

    One-on-one interactions

    The interpreter and the Deaf person will tell the hearing person where to stand or sit. The interpreter usually stands or sits next to the hearing person and facing the Deaf person. This allows the Deaf person to see both the interpreter and the hearing person.

    Group interactions

    A semi-circle seating arrangement is best when there's a group. This enables the Deaf person to see what's happening around the group. Each person should take turns when speaking. This will allow the interpreter time to communicate all conversations.

    Where should you look?

    Look at the Deaf person when you're listening to the interpreter. The Deaf person will glance back and forth between the hearing person and the interpreter.

    How should you address the Deaf person?

    Use "you" to address the Deaf person instead of "him" or "her" or "they".

    How fast should you talk?

    Speak at your natural pace. Before the interpreter begins to interpret, they may wait to hear and understand your complete thought. They may also ask for clarification or ask you to slow down. Sign language is not a word-for-word rendition of English. It has its own syntax and grammar.

  5. How to directly communicate with Deaf persons?

    Communicating with a Deaf person is different than when you communicate with a hearing person. Eye contact and facial expressions are very important in Deaf culture. Try to be open to communicate in a different way or use different gestures.

    Is American Sign Language the same as English?

    American Sign Language (ASL) is not English sentences with signs for each word. ASL has its own grammar. So, sentence structure, syntax, time and verb conjugation, etc., are different than English. English is usually a 2nd language for Deaf people.

    Lip reading

    Many Deaf people do not read lips. Even the most skilled lip readers may only understand 30 percent of what is being said. Lip reading can be exhausting for Deaf people.

    Writing things out

    Written communication is best only for short and simple interactions. Not all Deaf people are comfortable with written communication. For written communication, have a pen and paper nearby. Keep your notes brief and to the point. Remember that English is a 2nd language for most Deaf people.

    Learn a few signs

    Keep a sign language chart and finger spelling chart handy. You may ask the Deaf person to develop a sign chart that suits their needs in that setting. Review the signs from time to time with others who interact with the Deaf person.

    Group discussions or meetings

    Deaf people may miss out on incidental information in group discussions or meetings. This may include overheard conversations, comments and remarks. Do your best to keep Deaf people in the loop. Repeat topics as a courtesy when someone joins your conversation or group.

    Communicating versus interpreting

    Communicating in sign language is different than interpreting. You should ask for a qualified interpreter for complex interactions.

    How to walk up to a Deaf person

    Deaf people cannot hear you approaching them from behind. Instead, approach from their side or in front of their physical position. Use a light tap on their shoulder to get their attention. People who are Deaf often use visual cues to get each other’s attention. The waving of hands or turning a light on and off up to 3 times is appropriate in Deaf culture.

    How to walk past to 2 Deaf people having a conversation

    See if there's a way to walk around them. If there's no path to walk around them, pass between them. Or, you can touch the back or shoulder of 1 person and step around or pass between the 2 people.


For more information on American Sign Language interpretation, email