Funerals are stressful times for families as they make arrangements for their loved ones. Deaf or Hard of Hearing individuals find it even more stressful if they have to worry about how they will understand and participate. Guidance from experienced professionals can make things go much more smoothly and help alleviate the extra pressure for all parties — the family, their guests, and the funeral staff.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that places of public accommodation provide equal access to communications (e.g., funeral ASL interpreters). Section III-1.2000 explicitly lists many such sites (including funeral homes):

In section #6:

“Service establishments (e.g., laundromats, dry-cleaners, banks, barbershops, beauty shops, travel services, shoe repair services, funeral parlors, gas stations, offices of accountants or lawyers, pharmacies, insurance offices, professional offices of health care providers, hospitals)…”

First Recommendations

We recommend that your first interview with the family include the question, “Will there be anyone present who will need a sign language (ASL) interpreter?” By establishing this need ahead of the funeral, you will be able to request services as soon as possible. With more advanced notice, it is much easier to find an available and qualified interpreter for this assignment.

An interpreter should be provided for all of the service(s) parts – in the funeral home and the graveside service if there is one. Some families, however, may keep the graveside service more private. If the person needing an interpreter is not in the immediate family, you may not require the interpreter for the graveside service.

Please Note: We will bill the funeral home directly for these services. By law, the family must not incur these costs.

The Process

After the family confirms that they need an interpreter, your next step is to contact Partners Interpreting:

The scheduling team will need to know:

  • Time, date, duration, location of the service(s)
  • Name of the Funeral home or service provider
  • The name of the Deaf client/consumer and relationship to the event (family member or guest etc.). As we are the premier provider of interpreting services across Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, there is an excellent chance that if the Deaf person is local, we have worked with them in the past.  As a result, we would have a list of their preferred interpreters, and that would help us find the most appropriate match.

Our goal is to serve you as you serve the families, by providing communication access to those who need ASL interpreters.

Request a Consultation



  • 508-699-1477 (voice); answering service supports non-business hours sending messages to on call staff
  • 508-809-4894 (videophone) for ASL users