Interpreter Handbook

Welcome to DSS

Welcome to the Disability Support Services (DSS) team! This Handbook is intended to familiarize Cypress College Interpreters with our required practices and procedures. DSS is responsible for providing Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students with the appropriate accommodations, including sign language interpreting.  Please read this handbook thoroughly and become familiar with the provisions that have been established in accord with your employment.  Always feel free to contact the Interpreter Coordinator at the DSS office should there ever be questions.

This handbook was developed with contributions from and thanks to the following institutions:

North Orange Continuing Education, Interpreter Handbook
Fullerton College, Interpreter Handbook
Napa Valley College, Interpreter Handbook
Ohlone College, Interpreter Handbook

The provisions of this handbook are meant to articulate the role and responsibilities of our Interpreters. The primary function of our Interpreters is to facilitate communication between students, staff and faculty. Also contained in this handbook are policies and procedures for Interpreters. It is the responsibility of each Interpreter to be familiar with and to follow the provisions contained herein.

Temporary Employment Agreement (TEA)

All hourly employees of the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD), including Cypress College Interpreters, are required to sign a TEA for each fiscal year to be worked. No hourly employee of the NOCCCD can work for more than 38.5 weeks in any fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).  Additionally, they may not work more than 26 hours in a week. The TEA you sign will include both a start date and an end date. The weeks of actual hours worked within the fiscal year count toward the 38.5 week maximum.  Interpreters are responsible for monitoring their hours to ensure that the 26 hour weekly limitation is not exceeded. You will receive a copy of each TEA you sign to keep for your records. Interpreters must monitor the number of weeks worked and not exceed the 38.5 week maximum. Exceeding either the 38.5 week or the 26 hour per week limitations are causes for termination.

Interpreter Pay

Interpreters are compensated for all authorized services provided. Please note:

  • If a student provides a 24 hour notice of absence, the Interpreter will be notified and will not be paid for the scheduled class time.
  • If a student provides less than 24 hour notice of absence, including NO SHOWS, the Interpreter will be reassigned. If another assignment is not available, the Interpreter will receive one hour of pay at the regular rate or the Interpreter may participate in professional development in the DSS office.

When interpreting for a class or other activity that lasts six hours or more, one thirty minute meal break is required. This unpaid break must be noted on the timecard.

Differential Rate

The NOCCCD created a Differential Rate to ensure that Interpreters are fairly compensated for the work they perform. DSS will attempt to schedule Interpreters to work in teams for assignments of more than 90 minutes in order to provide students with the most effective service. However, it may not always be possible or necessary to make team interpreting assignments. Interpreters may charge hours at the Differential Rate if solo assignments of greater than 90 minutes are worked and the assignment requires constant signing.


Solo assignment of a lecture class that is 2.5 hours = Differential Rate
Solo assignment of a computer class for 2.5 hours with the student working independently for most of the class = Regular Rate

Electronic Timecards and Log Sheets

Interpreters have 24-7 access to the NOCCCD Hourly Employee Electronic Timesheets (HEET) system by logging into myGateway and clicking on the Employee tab. The online timekeeping system lets Interpreters record time worked quickly, easily, and accurately. The pay period begins on the 16th of each month and ends on the 15th of the next month. Electronic timecards must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the 15th of each month. If the interpreter requires assistance completing the electronic timecard, the interpreter may visit the DSS office for assistance. Log Sheets must be completed with all required information (student name, class title, start/end times, etc.) and submitted to DSS no later than the 17th of each month. If the 17th is on a Friday, it will be due the following Monday. Log Sheets are to be filled out legibly at the time the service is provided and submitted by the 17th in person, by mail, or via email. Timecards and log sheets received after the due date or incomplete may result in a delay of payment.

Time should be recorded in 15 minute increments. If a class starts at 9:05 a.m. and ends at 11:50 a.m., then the interpreter will log 9 – 11:45 a.m. If a class takes place at 10:30 a.m. – 12:40 p.m., an interpreter will log 10:30 a.m. –12:45 p.m. If an Interpreter stays after class to assist the student with communicating with the instructor, etc., then that time should be logged as well. Note: If both Regular Rate and Differential Rate hours have been worked during the months, total hours for each rate must be entered into the HEET system with the corresponding rates.

Professional Development

If a student or the instructor is absent from class, efforts will be made to find another assignment for the Interpreter. When there are no other assignments available, Interpreters may visit the DSS office to work on future assignments or interpreting skills.  Resources such as sign language study books and DVDs are available in the Cypress College DSS office for Interpreter use.  Additionally, computers are available in the DSS computer lab.  Interpreters are asked to remain in the DSS office for professional development and will be paid at the Regular Rate during this time.

For evening class Interpreters ONLY:  If a student or instructor is absent from an evening class, evening Interpreters may choose to participate in professional development by:

  • Completing the Professional Development Form (electronic or blue half sheet). Resources and materials directly related to developing interpreting skills must be utilized.


  • Attending an outside workshop (directly related to the field of interpreting) during THAT SAME WEEK which will be counted as professional development for the loss of time.  The interpreter must submit verification of the workshop attendance prior to completing the timesheet.

Important:  When an interpreter participates in professional development because of a student or instructor absence, the interpreter must complete a Professional Development Form (electronic or blue half sheet) and include it with the Log Sheet.

Request for Time Off

Interpreters who will be missing an assignment due to illness or personal necessity must email to inform the DSS office. Interpreters must provide the name of the assigned student, the time of the class and where the class is located on the email notification.

Under the California Labor Code Sections 245-249: Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522), all employees not currently represented by a collective bargaining agreement are entitled to accrue paid sick leave. Employees accrue one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked. This sick leave will carry over from year to year but is limited to a maximum balance of forty-eight (48) hours. Employees are eligible to use this leave once it has been accrued, however, it must be used in whole hour increments.  When separating from the District, employees will not be provided compensation for any accrued, unused paid sick leave hours.

Upon oral or written request, the District shall permit an employee to use paid sick leave for the following purposes: 

  1. For the diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition of, or preventive care for, an employee or an employee’s family member. “Family member” means any of the following: (1) a child, which for purposes of this article means a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis. This definition of a child is applicable regardless of age or dependency status; (2) a biological, adoptive, or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child; (3) a spouse; (4) a registered domestic partner; (5) a grandparent; (6) a grandchild; (7) a sibling. 
  • For an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, the purposes described in subdivision (c) of Section 230 and subdivision (a) of Section 230.1. 

If the need for sick leave is foreseeable, employees shall notify the Interpreter Coordinator not less than two (2) working days in advance of the day and time of the appointment. 

If the need for paid sick leave is unforeseeable, employees shall contact the DSS office as soon as possible, but not later than the scheduled time the employee would be required to report for duty.

Total sick leave hours must be entered into the Electronic Timesheet to report sick leave hours. Payroll will confirm available sick leave. These hours should not be reported in the regular or differential hours worked section.

Employees can view their sick leave balance on myGateway (Employee Tab/Employment Details Channel/Leave Details).  Leave balances will be updated after each payroll period. To contact Payroll with any questions, please call (714) 808-4754.

Interpreter Absences

It is the goal of DSS to support our DHH students by providing consistent and reliable interpreting services. Although cancellation of Interpreter services may be unavoidable at times, such cancellations and absences have a detrimental impact upon student learning. Excessive absences/cancellations or tardiness, whether planned or not, may result in a reduction of assignments or termination of employment.

Student No Shows & Tardiness

Interpreters are required to wait for a minimum of ten (10) minutes for each hour of assigned class time for students to arrive.  If a class is scheduled for one hour, a ten minute wait time is required.  For a two hour class, twenty minutes of wait time are required.  For a three hour class, thirty minutes of wait time.  If the instructor or student does not show up during the allotted wait time, the interpreter must report to the DSS office. Efforts will be made to find another assignment for the Interpreter. When there are no other assignments available, Interpreters may work on future assignments or interpreting skills at the DSS office. If the Interpreter decides not to participate in Professional Development, the Interpreter will be compensated for one (1) hour for assignments less than three hours in length and for two hours for assignments that are three or more hours in length. Interpreters are to report all such NO SHOWS to the DSS office immediately. If a student contacts an Interpreter to inform of an absence, the Interpreter is required to inform the DSS office and remind the student to also do so. If a student does not attend a class, the Interpreter is to note the absence on the Log Sheet as a NO SHOW. If the student leaves class before the scheduled end time, the Interpreter must note the time of departure and report this to the DSS office.


Interpreters are expected to meet with and introduce themselves to the instructors with whom they will be working. Please arrive sufficiently in advance on the first day of assignment in order to do so. Include the DHH student if the student wishes to be included in the introduction. Ask the instructor if they have had previous opportunities to work with DHH students or interpreting services.  Remember that many instructors may have no previous experience with our services or students.  You can be a vital resource to promote a more successful experience. The instructor should be made aware that it is standard practice to interpret everything that is said during the course of the assignment. The interpreter will also provide voice for any signed communication from the student. If the instructor has not had previous experience, the Interpreter may take the opportunity to explain the role of an Interpreter, the benefits of visual aids and guidelines for interpreting material from a text that is read aloud in class. The Interpreter may also share any other ideas to improve the interpreting process and experience for the student and explain that they support the student and instructor as an active member of the educational team. Interpreters may request extra copies of the text, all handouts, and any notes associated with the class to help in preparing for upcoming assignments.

Team Interpreting

When working in a team situation, both Interpreters are required to arrive on time and to stay for the duration of the class. Interpreters should only leave the classroom during scheduled breaks and should return promptly. All team members should be constantly engaged in the team process. Team members rotate between primary and supportive roles. Primary roles are directed to students and include tasks such as signing and voicing. Support roles are necessary to enhance and improve the team effort. Support functions assure accurate and complete communication and include such activities as:

  • Monitoring the overall classroom setting
  • Assuring appropriate and timely transitions of team member roles
  • Supporting/cueing other team members as appropriate

In team interpreting situations, Interpreters rotate at regular intervals of 20 to 30 minutes. Interpreters should rotate in a manner that assures continuity of message transmission (see RID standard practice paper Team Interpreting). Interpreters should not be using personal cell phones or engaging in other non-class related social activities when serving in the support role, even when there is class down time.

Dress Code

Interpreters are expected to wear appropriate and professional attire when performing an assignment. Interpreters are part of the DSS team and represent the Department when on assignment. Interpreters are also representatives of the community of interpreters and the DHH community. Appearance and behavior reflects on the Department, School and the community. Use professional judgment at all times.

Professional appearance includes the following:

  • Non-distracting shirt/blouse
  • Pants/trousers/slacks that are clean and professional in appearance
  • Skirts that are professional in appearance and of appropriate length
  • Appropriately trimmed nails
  • Hair worn neatly and away from the face
  • No more than one ring on each hand/wrist watch/tasteful earrings

Examples of non-acceptable attire/appearance:

  • Apparel that disrupts the learning environment such as prints/shirts with logos
  • Skirts that are inappropriately short or with high slits
  • Sleeveless or revealing shirts/blouses
  • Sweatshirts or sweatpants
  • Ragged/worn/torn jeans
  • Excessive jewelry that detracts from the learning environment
  • Bright nail polish or excessively long fingernails
  • Unprofessional footwear such as flip flops
  • Unnatural and distracting hair color (two tones, blues/greens/orange, etc.)

DSS values our Interpreters. Adhering to the professional standards above will ensure the integrity of our instructional environment and will enhance student learning. Please be aware that failure to follow these guidelines may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. Questions regarding professional attire or these guidelines should be directed to the Interpreter Coordinator.


Interpreters are expected to adhere to DSS standards regarding the confidential communications. Interpreters are not to share confidential information with other interpreters, faculty members, staff members, students or members of the public. If an Interpreter has a concern regarding the safety and/or well-being of a student, staff or others, that concern should be brought immediately and privately to the Interpreter Coordinator, DSS Director, appropriate faculty member, or the DSS Counselor.

Important Numbers to Know

Interpreters are highly visible and are representatives of Cypress College’s DSS Deaf Services.  Therefore, Interpreters should be knowledgeable and able to refer inquiries to the appropriate office(s).  Listed below are important Cypress College offices and phone numbers.

Disability Support Services (DSS)
(714) 484-7104

Sandra Garcia
Interpreter Coordinator
(714) 484-7496

President’s Office
Dr. Scott Thayer
CCCPLX (3rd floor)
(714) 484-7308

Health Center
Gym II Building (1st floor)
(714) 484-7361

Career Planning Center
Student Center (2nd floor)
(714) 484-7120

CCCPLX 201 (2nd floor)
(714) 484-7368

Library/Learning Resource Center (L/LRC)
(714) 484-7193

Counseling Center
Student Center (2nd floor)
(714) 484-7015

Financial Aid
CCCPLX (1st floor, next to DSS)
(714) 484-7114

Transfer Center
Student Center (2nd floor)
(714) 484-7129

Admissions and Records
Student Center (1st floor)
(714) 484-7346

Campus Safety
Business Building (1st floor, near Lot 1)
(714) 484-7387