Services from Interpreting Services Office

This page contains helpful information and tips for students enrolled in the San Diego Community College District.

Priority for Service Requests

The San Diego Community College District strives to provide reasonable accommodations in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008 and an agreement with the Office for Civil Rights by assigning priority to students' requests based on the following criteria whenever possible:

  1. Date of request for services - students who register early will have priority over those who register later.
  2. Classes with more than one deaf/hard-of-hearing student will have higher priority ("grouped classes").
  3. Academic courses have priority over nonacademic courses (unless required or vocationally related).
  4. Students very close to graduating or completing their programs will have higher priority for receiving services for their required classes.
  5. Courses offered every semester at a variety of times/locations have lower priority than courses offered on a more limited basis.

Sign Language Interpreting

Sign language interpreters are professionals who facilitate communication and convey all auditory and signed information so that both hearing and deaf individuals may interact.

  • Interpreters are trained in American Sign Language, Deaf Culture, and interpreting from one language to another.
  • Interpreters use sign to express what is spoken and verbalize what is signed while conveying the intent and feeling of the speaker.
  • Interpreters are versatile in adapting to a variety of communication styles, modalities and language ranging from ASL to a more English-influenced form of signing.
  • Interpreters follow a code of professional conduct:   * Keeping materials interpreted strictly confidential   * Not imposing any opinion or comments of the subject matter.

Tactile Interpreting

Tactile interpreters work with deaf or hard of hearing individuals who have a visual impairment and receive communication through touch. In this technique the client places her/his hands over the hands of the interpreter, in order to read signs through touch and movement.

  • Tactile signing can be taxing for interpreters, and may require more frequent interpreter switches or breaks.
  • The interpreter should supply both auditory and visual information to the client.
  • It is important to determine a seating arrangement that is comfortable to both the client and the interpreter.

Real-Time Captioning

A real-time captioner uses a stenography machine to provide a typed record of the lecture. The words of the lecture are virtually instantaneously readable on the screen of a laptop computer placed in front of the student while the instructor is lecturing. The captioner will typically sit next to the student. Following the lecture, a transcript of the lecture/presentation can be provided to the student, typically by email.


Typewell is a transcription system that provides communication access and note taking services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. A transcriber uses a notebook computer containing software that uses abbreviation techniques to transcribe meaning-for-meaning what is said in class lectures and discussions. This means the transcriber usually does not type every word that is said, however, yet maintains the full meaning intended by the speaker. The student reads the transcription in real-time from a second "reader" computer. Students can also type questions and comments to the transcriber during class, and even take their own notes on the reader computer. TypeWell transcribers provide notes for after-class use.

Which of the services is best for me?

We provide a variety of different options that can best meet students' educational needs. Students who are deaf and rely on ASL as their primary mode of communication typically benefit from qualified interpreters, whereas those who are hard-of-hearing and do not rely on ASL may benefit more from speech-to-text services.

Using these services in a new setting takes time. Speech-to-text services provide transcripts within 48 hours after the class, to allow the student to give full attention to the instructor rather than worrying about missing information while taking notes.

If ASL is the student's first language and it is easier for the student to comprehend information through ASL, an interpreter is the best choice.

With any type of accommodations, please discuss the options with a DSPS counselor and let them know any questions or concerns. Please see below for more detailed descriptions of some of the services we offer.

How to request services?

There are three types of service requests a student can make:

Ongoing Requests (requesting services for your classes during the semester): make an appointment to see your DSPS counselor, especially for priority registration (typically two months before the semester). Once you have decided what classes to take and when, request services through your DSPS counselor. Your counselor will ask you to sign the paperwork and will place the service requests with ISO once you have completed the registration. Requests are processed on a first-come, first served basis, so students who request early will be given priority over students who request after the priority registration date. Please see "Priority for Service Requests" for more information.

Requests for academic-related events ("Ad Hocs" - requesting services outside of your regular class meetings; i.e., instructor appointments, meetings, tutoring, etc.) - As soon as you know you will need services outside of your regular class time, contact your DSPS counselor to request interpreting or captioning services for a course-related "special event. " Let them know the exact date, start and end time, where it will take place, and what kind of an event it is. Your counselor must receive the request at least 5 working days prior to the event. If the event is not related to the requirements of the classes you are currently enrolled in, your counselor may refer you to the appropriate department sponsoring the event.

Requests for field trips - for an off-campus activity, please provide an address, the name of the facility and where you will meet the service provider(s). Be as specific as possible. Your counselor may want to discuss your field trip or activity if it is not required for the class. At least two weeks notice is required to request services for a field trip. Once your counselor approves the request, it will be sent to ISO for processing. Be sure to see your counselor well in advance of the event, preferably during the first week of the semester when you receive the syllabus from your instructor. Field trips that are out of the San Diego area, at different times than the usual class time, or include transportation or overnight support need at least two weeks to plan appropriately.

Important Forms

Before a meeting with your DSPS counselor, you may want to download and fill out one of these forms.

Services Policy Agreement Form

When you request interpreting or speech-to-text services, it is your responsibility to be aware of the policies and procedures contained in the Services Policy Agreement. Your counselor may have you sign the form before each semester.

Student Responsibility Form

The Student Responsibility Form contains the procedures to request and maintain sign language and speech-to-text services from the ISO. Your counselor may have you read and understand this form before taking classes each semester.

Field Trip Services Request Form

Two weeks advance notice is required for field trips taking place off campus. A meeting with your counselor may be in order to discuss alternatives if the field trip is not required for the class.

ISO Policies

ISO is limited to providing sign language and speech-to-text services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing students of San Diego Community College District for classes they are currently enrolled in, and state-sponsored activities outside of the classroom that are required to complete these classes.

Requests for ongoing classroom services must be requested through the student's DSPS counselor and submitted in writing prior to the beginning of the semester or class session. Services will be provided on a first come, first served basis, so students are encouraged to make their service requests as early as possible. Please check with the campus DSPS office for priority registration dates. Students must be registered for the classes they are receiving services in.

Requests for academic- or class-related events ("Ad Hocs") such as tutoring, instructor meetings, etc., must also be requested through the student's DSPS counselor. These requests must be related to the requirements of the classes the students are currently enrolled in. At least five business days are required to process these requests and are subject to approval by the DSPS counselor and ISO.

For field trips, typically off-campus, at least two weeks notice is required to submit a service request. The service request must include a full address, name of the facility, type of event and any fees due must be listed on the written request. Incomplete requests may not be honored.

ISO does not provide interpreters, captioners, or transcribers to staff or faculty of the SDCCD.

ISO does not provide paid or volunteer note takers.

ISO does not provide foreign language interpreters.

ISO does not provide interpreters, captioners, or transcribers for emergency situations (legal, medical or otherwise).

An interpreter, captioner, or transcriber may not be co-enrolled in any class in which the person is providing service.

Students are required to give ISO at least 24 hours notice when canceling service due to absence for any reason. When at least 24 hours notice is not provided and the student does not show up in a class, the absence will be counted as no-show. For second no-show or subsequent no-shows for a class, the student's services will be suspended for that class. The no-shows may be waived when the class is grouped with more than 1 student receiving the services.

Student Responsibility

BEFORE the semester starts:

  • See your DSPS Counselor early (at each college) to request your services for each new class. (ECC college students go to City DSPS)
  • Report any schedule changes (e.g., drop, add, or withdraw classes) to your counselor immediately.

AFTER the semester starts:

  • Report any schedule changes (e.g., drop, add, or withdraw classes) to your counselor immediately.

If you are ABSENT:

  • CANCEL your services (interpreters or captioners) 24 hours before the start time of your event, please email the Interpreting Services Office at, or call 24 hours answering machine at 619-550-3389 (videophone or voice). Contacting your interpreters, captioners, or counselors is not a proper procedure.

If you are ABSENT and DO NOT NOTIFY THE ISO at least 24 hours before the class start time, your services may be suspended!

If your Interpreter/Captioner is late or absent:

  • Use NCR paper and get a "volunteer note taker", and/or use an audio recorder.
  • TELL the Interpreting Services Office ASAP by email (, or call 619-550-3389 (videophone or voice). The Interpreting Services Office needs to know!

If meeting with teacher or classmates, tutoring, etc.:

  • Contact your counselor at least 5 working days before the event.


  • At least 2 weeks before the event, fill out a FIELD TRIP SERVICES REQUEST FORM.
  • Return the completed form to the DSPS Office.


  • Contact the sponsoring department. This information may be found on the flyer.

FAQs for Students

Why do you have a 24-hour "no-show" policy?

Telling ISO that you will be absent from a class with more than 24 hours notice allows us to cancel the services for that day or place the interpreters or speech-to-text service providers in another class currently waiting for service.

What does this policy mean?

This means that you must contact ISO more than 24 hours before your class starts to inform us which class and day you will not be attending. For example, if your class begins at 9:30 AM on Tuesday, you must call or email us before 9:30 AM on Monday.

What if my class is at 9:30 AM on MONDAY and I email by 9:30 AM on SUNDAY, it's still 24 hours in advance?

Correct. Our TTY line and email operate 24 hours a day and will take your messages over the weekend. You will not be counted as "no-show" with such notice in advance.

I woke up sick or had an emergency the morning of my class and was not able to inform ISO that I would not be in class with more than 24 hours notice. Does this count as a "no-show"?

Yes. Any absence with less than 24 hours notice to ISO will result in a "no-show" regardless of the reason. But please inform ISO as soon as possible in case there are other campus needs for the services.

I just received an "absence notice" in the mail. What does this mean?

This means you were absent for the first time for a class without letting ISO know more than 24 hours beforehand. This is just a warning. You will not stop receiving your services unless this happens a second time or subsequent times.

I just received a "suspension of services notice" in the mail. What does this mean?

This means you were absent for the second or subsequent time to a class without letting ISO know more than 24 hours beforehand. Your services for this class are now suspended.

I just received a "suspension of services notice" in the mail. How do I get my services back (request "reinstatement")?

You should contact your DSPS counselor immediately. Services can only be reinstated through your counselor. You might have a very good reason for no-shows, and that should be explained to your counselor, not ISO.

My DSPS counselor is not in the office to discuss reinstatement. What can I do?

You may see any DSPS counselor at your campus DSPS office or request to see the DSPS program manager.

How do I inform ISO that I'll not be attending class on a certain day?

Either email or call (619) 388-6634 TTY.

Can I call ISO through videophone?

Yes. You can call ISO at 866-570-6413 by appointment only. You may not, however, call on the videophone to inform ISO to cancel services. This restriction may change when ISO gets a videophone with message recording and time-stamp capabilities.

Can I cancel services through my service provider instead of contacting ISO?

No. Services can only be cancelled through ISO. If you inform your captioner, interpreter or transcriber that you will not be in the class on a certain date and if you do not show up, your absence will be counted as no-show.

My class will be meeting in a new location (room). Do I need to inform ISO?

Yes! It is very important that we have the right classroom information. If you just tell your service provider and your service provider is out one day, it could result in the substitute service provider going to the wrong room. So, for consistent services, please keep ISO informed of any room changes, even if you think your service provider has already informed ISO. We appreciate your help.

Where is the Interpreting Services Office (ISO) located?

We are located in Mission Valley at 3375 Camino del Rio South, Suite 275, San Diego, CA 92108. This is the district office for the San Diego Community College District.

How do I request captioners/interpreters/transcribers (service providers) for my classes for a semester?

You must make an appointment with a DSPS counselor at your campus, and they will take you through the necessary steps. Please see the section "How to request a service provider (captioner, interpreter or transcriber)?" above for more information.

Can I request specific service providers?

You may, but we'd rather know what specific skills you're looking for. For example, specific interpreter skill sets may include "strong ASL", "PSE", and "Signed English word order." By describing skills you're looking for, rather than specific service providers, you help us better serve all students and classes by matching students with interpreters who best match their needs. We may not be able to fill specific requests for individual service providers.

My class is going on a field trip. How do I request services?

You should contact your DSPS counselor at least two weeks in advance with the field trip details as soon as you know when your field trip will take place. It is important to get information regarding, travel, fees, location, etc. The more details you have and the more notice you give us, the more able we are to provide services smoothly. We prefer to be notified during the first two weeks of class when you get your syllabus.

Can I get services for tutoring appointments, meetings with my instructor, or group projects?

Yes. Contact your DSPS counselor to request "one time/ad hoc" service at least 3 working days in advance. Like field trips, the more details you give and the more notice you give us, the more you can help ensure smooth services.

Can I get services for other types of appointments/special events on campus?

It depends on the type of event. See your DSPS counselor to find out if you may request services through ISO. If not, he or she can direct you to the appropriate department to request services.

My DSPS counselor is not available today and I need to request services for a field trip. What should I do?

You should ask the DSPS front desk for a field trip services request form. Fill out the form with as many details as possible and ask that the front desk process the request for you. You may email your counselor or ISO for further direction. Please remember that ISO requires two weeks advance notice for field trips.

I am having trouble understanding one of my interpreters in my class and want to get a replacement. What should I do?

You should try to work it out with your interpreter first. For example, explain which signs are not clear and suggest how they might modify their signs in a way that you can understand. Interpreters are professionals and should welcome feedback when it's presented in an appropriate manner. If, after giving the interpreters feedback, you still cannot understand them, you may contact ISO to seek other solutions.

I have a concern about my services. Who should I contact?

If it's a confidential matter, you may contact your DSPS counselor or ISO.

Why do I have 2 interpreters in some classes and just 1 interpreter in others?

Some classes require a team (2 interpreters) for classes that have more "lecture time," while others, such as PE or lab, have more hands-on time. In these, you typically do not need the interpreter as much, so only one interpreter is usually needed. You should not be concerned, however, if you have a lecture class that has only one interpreter or a lab class that has two interpreters. This could be a strategy to accommodate classes that meet before or after yours, and you should only be concerned if the arrangement affects your comprehension of the class materials presented.

I'm using Speech-to-Text Services. How do I get my notes or transcripts?

On the first day of class, you may give your captioner or Typewell transcriber your email address and he or she will send you the class notes or transcript within 48 hours. If you would like to make other arrangements to get your notes or transcripts, please contact ISO or your DSPS counselor.