How Much is Your Interpreting Service Worth? (Part 2)

By Christina Payne

This blog is the second part to the “How Much is Your Interpreting Service Worth?” blog. In the last blog, we discussed the first step in finding the value of your service, and what costs you should factor into your service rate. While calculating the cost of providing service can be rather tedious, it is considerably easy to come up with a number because you are able to look at some hard numbers printed on bills and receipts, and determine exactly how much the costs are going to be. The second step, determining your value, leads you into a gray area. How much you’re worth is a rather subjective topic, and it does not only rely on your personal opinion, it also relies on your clients’ view of your value, and it relies on your geographic location, and the demographics. Some of the variables affecting the value of your service are the following:

  • Market Demand. Where are you located? Are there many Deaf and hard of hearing individuals in your area? Are there many sign language interpreters competing for the same assignments? How much are the other interpreters in your area charging for their services? If the demand is high, your service will be valued at a high rate. If the demand is low, you will be competing with other interpreters and those with lowest price will win out. It is recommended that you constantly gauge the frequency of assignments and the reaction of your clients once a month. If you find yourself competing with other interpreters, this indicates there is insufficient work in your area and you may want to consider reducing your rates. Other clues that you’re offering a too low of a price would be when the clients start commenting that the price is a bargain. If your competitors are raising prices, do raise your own price gradually. Too big of a jump may scare away your regular clients.
  • Your Experiences. If you are certified to interpret in legal field, this justifies an increase in your rate compared to other interpreters without legal certification. However, this is only successful if non-deaf clients see value in your expertise. It may take either educating or passing of policy requiring certain level of knowledge and/or experience in the local firm, agency, business, courthouse, or other organizations. It is recommended that you carefully examine your experiences and be brutally honest about the level of your clients’ expectations. If they come with an expectation that your service should be at a certain price, try to compromise with that expectation.
  • Labor Costs. How much does it cost for you to show up in person and interpret? Are you charging for the time spent in preparing for an assignment? Do you charge for the time spent in travelling to the location? Those should be taken in consideration. Sometimes some interpreters are willing to give up certain costs and call it a “discount” to retain the loyalty of their clients. This may be successful in current weak economy, but often the repeat business is only successful if the interpreters have excellent customer service skills.

By now, you may have a pretty good idea of how much your service is valued. If you choose to work with at least one interpreting agency, bear in mind that these are the same variables the agency will have to take in consideration. The interpreting agency may be under pressure to compete with other local interpreting agencies and set the price at a reasonable rate to attract a good variety of clienteles. As such, there may be certain restraints in setting your rates, so be sure to check with the agencies prior to signing any type of agreement to ensure you and the agency agree on the price of your service.
You owe it to yourself to carefully keep an eye on current service rate and ensure decent profit. A fair rate will ensure your success in covering the cost of providing service and securing profits. In closing, feel free to visit the following links for more information on setting an appropriate rate for your service.

Freelance Switch: Pricing Your Services

Independent Contracting Resource: How Do You Determine What Rate to Charge

NOLO: How Much Should You Charge for Your Services

“How to Raise Your Hourly Rate” by Steve Pavlina

How Much is Your Interpreting Service Worth? (Part One)

By Christina Payne

The trickiest thing about working as an independent contractor is determining how much you are worth to the clients. If you price your service too high, you’ll quickly lose business. If you price your service too low, insufficient money will be the death of your business. This blog will discuss some variables you can take in consideration as you determine the value of your service, and some resources you can utilize as you make your decision.

The first, and perhaps most frequently overlooked step is accounting for the costs of providing service. Covering the costs of providing services will make it possible for you to barely break even without losses. These costs are:

  • Overhead Costs. You need to factor in the costs of your office rent or mortgage, other loans, health insurance, office supplies, mileage and car maintenance, cell phone or pager, computer, computer programs, internet costs, and most importantly: the cost of CEUs to maintain your certification. Add up all these, and any other additional bills you will need to pay, this will be a start.
  • Material Costs. When you find you will need to purchase equipment, specific clothing, or anything that helps you perform your job, these are included in material costs. It is strongly recommended that you, as an interpreter, anticipate these costs and include the cost in your final service price. Bear in mind that most of the time, the equipment or clothing can be purchased once and used frequently for other types of assignments. The final value should not be too great to make a difference in total annual costs.
  • Plan For the Unexpected. Never, never, never assume you can work every single hour of your workday for the entire year. You are human, and you will get sick. You’ll want to take a week off for your vacation on a cruise. You’ll find a day without any assignment. You’ll want to enjoy the Holidays with your family and/or friends. Take a look back in the previous year, how many days did you call in sick or go without an assignment? Take a look forward in the future, will you want to take a vacation? How often (be reasonable!) do you like going on vacation? Plan for the unexpected by putting aside a little extra money to tide you over during these rainy days.


You may want to consider visiting the Freelancer site to utilize a helpful tool called “FreelanceSwitch Hourly Rates Calculator“, which provides guidance and helps calculate the cost of providing service, and it’s been said that the resulting costs are fairly accurate. However, be sure to vouch for the resulting number by personally double-checking on the calculations and include some costs that may not have been included in the tool.

Now you have your baseline to begin with. This is a bare minimum – if you do not make more than the total sum of costs of providing service, you’ll break even. However, the reason why you’re an independent contractor is because you want to independently conduct your own small business, and all healthy businesses should garner some profit. Aiming for profits brings us to the next step – determining how much you are worth. We will discuss the last step in the next blog, coming soon!

The Truth About Firewalls

Any computer that connects to the Internet should use a firewall. A firewall is designed to protect your computer from intrusion. Firewalls are the first line of defense against security threats. Although not a panacea for all threats, a basic firewall is an important part of layered security.

A firewall is essentially a filter programmed to allow or block network data traffic. Some firewalls will automatically monitor and log suspicious network activity.

There are two types of firewalls: software and hardware.

Software Firewall

One of the most important programs you can install on your computer is a software firewall. Software firewalls are very useful for allowing certain programs access to network resources. It is imperative to know what type of traffic to allow or deny. Microsoft includes an easy to understand built-in software firewall for current Windows operating systems.

Hardware Firewall

A second type of firewall is called a hardware firewall. Hardware firewalls could be incorporated in your network as a router or modem. Most hardware firewalls are usually installed as a separate standalone device in large enterprise corporate networks to prevent outsiders from accessing proprietary business information. It is also recommended to use a knowledgeable network professional to configure your business firewall.

Using a software and hardware firewall are key tools in protecting your computer. By practicing safe browsing habits, you are less vulnerable to spyware, malware, and viruses. By using the following recommendations will also reduce your online exposure risk:

  • Back up your hard drive regularly
  • Use anti-virus and anti-spyware programs
  • Install the latest software program updates
  • Set your operating system to update automatically
  • Configure your browser security settings to medium or higher
  • Don’t download files from peer to peer file sharing programs
  • Discuss safe computing practices with your household family members
  • Only use reputable software or downloaded programs from web sites you know and trust

Do you have a question about firewalls? Please feel free to leave a comment below!

Our Story, Our Culture: An Inside Perspective

The company formed because of a vision. After a meeting with a group of fellow deaf and hard of hearing individuals, the idea of CSD came to Ben Soukup, our founder and current CEO. The group shared their frustrations about inaccessibility; access to communication was an unmet need. Ben, along with the South Dakota Association of the Deaf (SDAD), decided that it was time to make a change.

Ben Soukup in his first office, 1975

CSD’s legacy began in November of 1975, by providing opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people. These opportunities would enable deaf and hard of hearing people to enjoy a life of quality as well as increased access to the world around them. The word “disability” was to be removed from reality.

Our Vision

CSD grew into what it is today as a result of a collective vision. Our vision is to enhance our global presence as a premier organization for deaf and hard of hearing consumers by providing exceptional services and setting standards by which others are measured. We are always thinking of ways for deaf and hard of hearing individuals to be fully equivalent in modern society. Accordingly, we strive to be a model organization by continuously elevating standards for products and services for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Our People

Our company is known for our people. Throughout our locations across the country and abroad, we all work towards a common goal and contribute to the collective greater good and overall mission of CSD. Each location has its own subculture, as does each department, for they operate in the most effective way that suits their location or their positions. These subcultures are part of a larger organizational culture, unified by the same mission that we all believe in and value. Our mission is to provide greater opportunities for access, independence, and awareness for all individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. We provide tools conducive to a positive and fully integrated life.

By having a mixture of hearing and deaf employees, a unique hybrid workforce and work environment exists. Communication is not an issue. We work to ensure that all employees are given full accessibility to communication by their preferred means. If an employee doesn’t currently sign, he or she is encouraged to learn sign language.

Our Shared Ideals

For most employees, the passion for making a difference is already instilled when they come to CSD. For others, this passion develops after their arrival. We believe in teamwork, shared ideas, and creating solutions while respecting individuality and innovation. Our employees are actively engaged and empowered with responsibility for their work. Everyone contributes. Each person makes a difference.

Making a Difference

Our people are not only our employees but also the people that we serve. We work hard every day as a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating solutions towards functional equivalency. Our contact centers connect customers with the world by using the customer’s preferred method of communication. They may provide a captioned voice to text call for a person who recently lost their hearing or relay a call between a mother and a deaf child away at college. Our interpreting program provides customers with communication access either in person or through video. Our interpreters champion our cause by interpreting in emergency rooms at late night hours or interpreting long and intensive, yet important, business meetings. Our human services provide customers with a wide range of services that include advocacy, independent living, and sign language instruction. They may coach a survivor through a domestic abuse situation, advocate for increased access to communication, or provide tools to obtain satisfactory employment.

We give back because we believe in a better way of life.

CSD Partners with Deaf Services Center to Expand Upon its Nationwide Video Remote Interpreting Network

Working with Deaf Services Center to grow CSD’s video remote interpreting network creates greater access for both businesses and consumers seeking interpreting solutions.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (May 23, 2012) — Today, CSD announced that it has formed a partnership with Deaf Services Center (DSC) to broaden its scope of video remote interpreting (VRI) into Ohio.

CSD Video Remote Interpreting (CSDVRI) enables businesses to communicate — in real time — with deaf/hearing sign language users  who are in the same room or location (meeting, doctor’s appointment, etc.), all by accessing a video interpreter working from a distant location. CSDVRI is convenient for a business needing communication access for their deaf consumers when traditional community based interpreting services are not available or practical.

“As a nationwide provider of interpreting services for over 36 years, CSD is excited to bring CSDVRI to Ohio,” said Ben Soukup, CSD chief executive officer. “Aligning our organization with a deaf and hard of hearing service provider like DSC makes perfect sense, because we share a core mission and bring the same focus on quality to our consumers.”

DSC is a provider of both community and interpreting services for people living in central and southeast Ohio. Along with interpreting, DSC specializes in serving the deaf and hard of hearing community with programs like case management, youth programs, peer support, advocacy, and even more.

“Deaf Services Center looks forward to expanding our offerings to include video remote interpreting so the deaf, hard of hearing and hearing communities can use it to enhance their interpreting services in the workplace, school or personal appointments,” said John Moore, DSC chief executive officer/executive director. “We are excited to partner with CSD to ensure that users of video remote interpreting receive top quality services.

CSD’s national interpreting referral center will handle all billing, scheduling and processing for DSC’s VRI requests. The CSD platform allows access to Web chat, e-mail, TTY, fax and more for businesses to schedule or request interpreters. DSC will also market the CSDVRI brand in Ohio and the surrounding areas where they currently operate offices. While DSC is a VRI provider itself, CSD will handle the overflow once DSC’s interpreting pool is maxed out. It’s a win-win situation for CSD, DSC and especially for deaf and hard of hearing people who otherwise may not be able to access an interpreter.

For more information about DSC, go to, and to learn more about CSD, go to

About CSD — CSD (a.k.a. Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc.) was established in 1975, primarily to provide sign language interpreting services to deaf and hard of hearing adults in South Dakota. Today, CSD offers employment opportunities to nearly 2,000 individuals in 27 offices and locations all across the nation and internationally, providing a broad continuum of social and human services programs, as well as interpreting, telecommunications relay and contact center services. CSD is a private nonprofit agency dedicated to providing quality services; ensuring public accessibility; and increasing awareness of issues affecting the deaf, hard of hearing and individuals with speech disabilities. For more information, please visit
About Deaf Services Center — Since 1991, DSC has grown to be one of the largest community centers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the State of Ohio.  We mandate in our bylaws that the majority of our Board of Trustees be Deaf or Hard of Hearing.  Currently, the DSC Board of Trustees is made up of a majority of Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
We provide the following services: Case Management/Peer Support, ADA Assistance, Advocacy, ASL Instruction, Education, Deaf Equipment Modification Program, C- Print, Interpreting Services(Community and Video), Information and Referral, Rural Outreach, Speaker’s Bureau, Career Options for Deaf, Hard of Hearing Youth and the Deaf Youth Program and Kids of Deaf Adults (KODA).. (DSC) is a non-profit 501 C-3 organization based in Worthington, Ohio committed to providing direct-based services to Deaf, hard of hearing and late-deafened.
      We have two offices in which we provide services though a 24 county service area.  The offices are located at 5830 North High Street, Worthington and Communication Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Portsmouth, 1835 Oakland Avenue, Portsmouth, OH.
     We have long have been committed to the betterment of the lives of people who are deaf or have hearing loss. Our mission is to empower the deaf and hard of hearing people and to promote access to communication, services and events in the community.  For more information, log on to or call 614-841-1991 V/TTY.

Interpreting: Qualified vs. Unqualified


Who determines whether an interpreter is qualified? Is holding an interpreting certification sufficient or should we focus on interpreter’s aptitude and experiences as outlined in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? These questions were always up for debate among my Deaf family members and answer never came more clearly to me until the night I went to watch the play, The Busybody, by Susanna Centlivre.

The play script was tough to understand. Even with 6 years of experiences in theater, it took me weeks to read and understand the Shakespearean-equivalent language aspects and historical context so richly packed into this script. I was understandably alarmed when a red haired certified interpreter introduced herself to me and flippantly admitted that she did not read a script.

With only a few minutes left until the play begin, I offered her my script as a source of reference during the play. She quickly declined. The lights darkened, and after her stunned silence upon hearing the first a few lines, the interpreter frantically stood up: “I can’t understand what they’re saying! I can’t do this!” She fled to the back of the theater, leaving her team interpreter alone to interpret for the remaining two hours. I remember spending the rest of the play feeling sorry for the lone team interpreter and wishing that the red haired interpreter would at least give it a try. Indeed, I felt no animosity against the red haired interpreter; I could empathize with her panic. It was a learning experience for all of us.

From the experience, I realized that while interpreting certification is a great tool in indicating whether an interpreter can utilize even the smallest nuances of ASL, it still is not sufficient in preparing an interpreter for just any assignment. Perhaps recognizing more depth to qualifications than simply certification, Title II of ADA takes a stance on which steps should be taken to ensure that communications between a Deaf person and a hearing person should be as effective, clear, and understandable as those among hearing people. Furthermore, a “qualified interpreter” is loosely described as someone able to sign and convey important concepts between Deaf and hearing people. With that requirement entails an unconditional expectation for accurate, objective, and unbiased interpretation, and utilization of knowledge of specialized vocabulary.[¹] Certification is not used to define qualification, nor is it required by ADA for those pursuing an interpreting career.

Should certification be required? That is still up for debate. From my standpoint, to be a qualified interpreter means a combination of certification, vital spirit, positive attitude, skills, adherence of Code of Professional Conduct, and continuous education. When I say education, I mean attending training and workshops, applying constructive feedback, researching new terminologies, and understanding concepts. A successful accomplishment takes experiences and training.

No one can better determine whether an interpreter is qualified than the interpreter him/herself. With honest self-assessment, only the interpreter can identify his/her area of strengths and weaknesses. Only the interpreter can apply the tools learned in CEUs and training. It is up to the interpreter to ensure efficient communication by determining whether he/she is qualified for any given assignment.

And hey, life still happens. If you have carefully chosen an assignment believing that you were qualified and end up finding otherwise, that’s okay. Give it a shot, and hang on for your dear life. Get your team to help you facilitate communication, and if you can, ask for clarification on concepts and terminologies. The experience may not be fun at the moment, but it will be a priceless learning experience.

[¹] 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.

What is a Contact Center?


Formerly referred to as a “call center”, a contact center is defined as a place where contacts are made and received. It is often the “front door” to a business and is the place where most crucial customer interactions take place. Therefore, its effective and efficient operation is a key ingredient to the overall success of any organization.

The definition of a contact center increasingly includes mention of the handling of various types of interactions in addition to telephone calls which include email, webchat, fax, etc. As a result, the industry has evolved and now more commonly uses the term “contact center” to refer to the place where these transactions take place.

In addition to defining a contact center as a place for customer interactions, it is important to denote what makes an entity a contact center and not just a place where telephone calls are answered. A contact center is typically defined as an operation where more than one person is responding to contacts and where an interaction can be handled by anyone within a group.

The contact center profession employs a large number of employees. Studies from The Call Center School using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that approximately 4.5 million frontline agent positions are active today. Approximately 3 million of these positions are filled by full-time staff and the remaining 1.5 million positions are shared by part-time staff. These millions of contact center employees represent approximately 2% of the total U.S. population and about 3.5% of the working population.

Meet the Faces Behind CSD: Adam Ellsworth


From interpreting to equipment distribution to managing personnel, Adam Ellsworth, our Senior Database Administrator, has been a rock star in developing custom software to meet our unique needs for over 7 years. Adam originally developed the Interpreter Scheduling software that allows CSD’s nationwide Interpreter Referral Services to be centrally managed and accessible from anywhere. Along the way, he also engineered a program that keeps track of all of our contact center agents:

Today, he’s mainly focused on making equipment distribution more efficient so agents can spend more time helping consumers instead of entering data.

A native of Southeast South Dakota, Adam went to school at Dakota State University and earned a degree in Computer Science. While working for a software development firm, he became interested in CSD’s projects and passionate work environment. He appreciates the opportunity to work at a non-profit company where the focus is serving a community.

When not swimming in SQL programming, Adam spends his spare time mixing live music for bands and being a stage manager for regional concerts. In January, he spent 8 days on a mission trip in Haiti which culminated in a 3-day music festival where he was lead engineer. “What I love about both live music production and software development is that, at the core, you’re just problem solving.”

Breaking New Ground in Austin, Texas


CSD Technology Group is opening a new Technology+Design Studio (TDS) in Austin, Texas. The mission of TDS Austin is to design and develop our next generation web environment, mobile applications, and network/communication infrastructure. The terminology “technology+design” was chosen to communicate the integration of information technology and creative design skills essential to building modern web applications. Designers and technologists have become one community.

New Design

The formation of TDS Austin creates an unprecedented opportunity for CSD to amplify our existing enterprise services team by hiring individuals with expertise in emergent technologies for web and mobile applications. This new software development group will serve as the technical engine for our enterprise computing environment as well as our sales and marketing team. The creation of a core technology group to empower all CSD business units is part of an overall modernization of the CSD organization.

TDS Austin will work closely with other Technology Group teams, including Enterprise Services and Business Solutions in Sioux Falls, and our technical resources in California.

Work Environment 

The TDS Austin office is being designed as a studio environment, utilizing open space, meeting and huddle rooms, and lots of natural light. The goal is creativity and collaboration. Dreary cubicle farms need not apply. The Technology Group team will share the office with sales and marketing teams, thus accelerating product strategy and sharing of ideas.


CSD is recruiting with a focus on flexible skills rather than static roles. We are looking for highly talented individuals who are jazzed about open technology and positive social values. Areas of expertise include:

  • Technical Leadership
  • Web and Mobile Application Development
  • UX/UI Design (User Experience / User Interface)
  • Network Architecture
  • Systems Administration (Linux, Windows, OS X)
  • Project Management


TDS Austin will leverage open standards technology such as Linux, PHP, HTML5, Ruby, Java, and Drupal. Open source software powers the majority of web sites on the Internet. Building our future products in this manner ensures that CSD can participate in popular and emerging technologies, and will have the option to contribute to open source projects.


We believe that Austin is an ideal location for the new studio. Austin’s combination of dense technology resources and creative arts culture reflects the esthetics of our future technology-driven business strategy. Add to that the excellent Texas School for the Deaf and you have a wonderful environment for CSD to thrive.

We are excited about our new product strategy, excited about the new TDS, and excited to be in Austin!

Executive Career Opportunity: Chief Sales and Marketing Officer

Do you want to work in a unique organization of talented professionals with diverse cultural, educational and employment backgrounds? Do you want to work in an organization that values public service along with cutting edge technology?

We are excited to announce a significant professional employment opportunity within CSD to join our executive leadership team as the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer (CSMO). This senior-level position will provide strategic support to all of our revenue acquisition and retention efforts organization-wide. Specifically, the CSMO will oversee the planning, implementation and management of CSD’s sales, account management, and marketing programs. Through the achievement of a global awareness of and demand for the continuum of products, services, and programs provided by our organization, the CSMO will create and retain revenue channels vital to the organization’s success. The CSMO will be based either in Austin, Texas or Sioux Falls, SD. For more information on this position as well as other career opportunities, view our website.  If you are interested in working with us, you may apply online.