Interpreter Resources: Vocational Rehabilitation Interpreters

This guide points to different types of interpreting and library resources.

What Does a VR Interpreter Do?

The image  shows a woman with shoulder-length dark hair in a purple shirt signing.

This is from the NCIEC website. Interpreters working in this setting report that most of their assignments are related to employment placement; postsecondary/vocational training; employment preparation, and career assessment settings (NCIEC, 2010). For those interpreters working as employees of a state VR agency, they are also often trained as job coaches as a second level responsibility to interpreting, thereby allowing the interpreter to develop additional skills and proficiencies.

The competencies of interpreters working in this setting include the ability to work effectively with Deaf and Deaf-Blind individuals with secondary disabilities and/or with limited language proficiency. Work in VR settings often involves assignments with consumers that are either immigrants or have parents that were immigrants and are not acculturated. As a result, the deaf consumer and/or their family members are not English proficient and sometimes come from countries where there was no formal education for deaf individuals. As well, family members may need spoken language interpreters. There are often language and cultural nuances present that make interpreting very complex.

Certified Deaf Interpreters are often be the best qualified to work with certain VR deaf/hard of hearing consumers, particularly deaf/ hard of hearing VR consumers with secondary disabilities and/or limited language proficiency. However, there is a severe shortage of Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) and/or many interpreters do not know how to collaborate effectively with CDIs. Therefore, interpreters working in this setting must be fluent in both American Sign Language and English, be able to adapt their language and interpreting performance to a wide range of consumers, and have the ability to effectively team with Deaf interpreters.

Interpreters in this setting must also have a broad understanding of the VR system and how it operates, including knowledge of the world of work and a wide range of jobs in different settings. They must have the ability to work collaboratively with a wide range of professionals in meeting the unique needs of VR clients. Add to this the need to be able to deliver competent interpreting services through distance technologies and it is easy to understand the complexities of working in this setting.

Cokely, D. & E. Winston (2009). Vocational Rehabilitation Needs Assessment Final Report. National Consortium of Interpreter Education.

Winston, E. (2010). Vocational Rehabilitation Interpreter Practitioner Interview Findings. National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers.


There are online modules (must create an account to log in) and an interpreter internship manual for your review. Explore other resources in this area.

The NCIEC developed this series of study guides to provide examples of how the competencies of VR interpreters (NCIEC VR Work Team, 2012) can be translated into curricula. The five units address various aspects of the VR system and provide practitioners with a foundation in the law, regulations, theories, and practices that underpin VR’s services to individuals with disabilities. The Study Guides, originally designed for a series of online modules are also being used by a select group of interpreter trainers across the country, include roadmaps of instructional activities, full descriptions of assignments, and rubrics for assessing learning

The Study Guides provided here were developed by the MARIE Center and the University of Northern Colorado (UNCO) for five, for-credit courses offered by UNCO. The content of the Guides has not been changed. If you wish to utilize the Study Guides, you must review them in their entirety and modify the content to meet your specific needs. Please note that some readings are not available due to copyright limitations. However, citation information is provided so you may find those readings on your own. Within the “Roadmap” section of each Study Guide, links to video presentations and PowerPoint presentations are live. They may not be live elsewhere in the documents. With the passage of time, some links may be broken. To the extent possible, we’ve tried to keep links updated but do not guarantee their availability.

We’re certain you’ll find these Guides to be a tremendous professional development resource for the interpreter interested in Community Interpreting or Vocational Rehabilitation settings.

Interpreting in VR Settings Module 1: VR as a Federally Mandated System Study Guide, Fall 2012
Interpreting in VR Settings Module 2: Roles and Responsibilities, Spring 2014
Interpreting in VR Settings Module 3: Interpreting for Deaf Professionals, Summer 2014
Interpreting in VR Settings Module 4: Interpreting for VR Clients – Knowledge, Spring 2014
Interpreting in VR Settings Module 5: Interpreting for VR Clients – Skills, Fall 2014

Annotated Bibliography

Check out the VR Literature Review and the VR Interpreting annotated bibliography. Use our RIT Libraries Catalog to find book and conference titles and the A-Z Journal Finders to find journals and articles.

Search for Periodical Titles

Online Videos

The collection of videos includes six titles that are listed on the right of this page. The titles include: A Vocational Evaluation, A VR Staff Meeting, Deaf Professionals in Action, Setting a Vocational Goal, Stories form Life Experiences, Support in the Job Search. Each video offers 20 to 60 minutes of text involving VR Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing consumers, Deaf Professionals working in the VR context, and other VR professionals. The texts can be viewed with or without an interpreter and with or without captions.

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