Deaf Access Solutions (DAS) and Friends Interpreting Services (FIS) combined efforts to secure the Social Security Administration (SSA) sign language interpreting and CART contract from 2017 through 2022. This contract requires nearly 20 full-time interpreters to provide on-call services onsite and multiple interpreters for other needs nationwide, with the majority of services performed in the Baltimore area. It is one of the most coveted government contracts of its kind. To win, DAS and FIS brought together the most experienced team of skilled interpreters and qualified coordinators in the country.
To meet the needs of more than 80 Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing employees, the SSA contract requested interpreters with a wide range of language skills, including American Sign Language (ASL), Pidgin Signed English (PSE), Signed English, Close Vision interpreting, and Tactile interpreting. The SSA also uses specialized vocabulary and a long list of acronyms. Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees hold various positions, from entry level to upper management, and interpreters must match the message and intent of all levels of communication. The SSA also makes frequent ‘ad hoc’ requests with very little notice—short assignments like meetings and hearings, and even longer assignments such as training classes spanning several months.
DAS and FIS have established a strong base of interpreters nationwide to meet the SSA’s needs with the highest quality services. Our team of interpreters and CART writers share decades of experience, especially with the SSA vernacular. DAS first filled the interpreting and CART needs of the SSA when we were a division of BayFirst Solutions in 2010. DAS delivered a smooth contract transition and exceeded expectations, maintaining a fill rate over 99% for all service requests for over 5 years. The quality of our services, the professional rapport of our interpreters, and the open communication of our Client Relations team has solidified our relationship with the SSA.
In 2013, DAS separated from BayFirst and became an independent company. However, because DAS was no longer an 8(a) company, the SSA contract was novated to TechFirst, with DAS teaming to provide 49% of the services. Again, with DAS’ extensive experience setting the standard high, the transition was seamless and over 99% of all requests continued to be filled.
This recent 2017 contract award resulted from a Joint Venture relationship with FIS, a Deaf-Owned company, whose 8(a) status and exceptional teamwork made them the perfect partner in providing interpreting services to SSA. As a life-long consumer of interpreting and captioning services, FIS’ CEO and Owner Alice Ann Friends understands the need for quality when providing communication access. As an interpreter-owned entity, DAS has maintained a long-standing reputation in the community as the go-to company for quality and customer service. Having both a consumer and provider perspective allows FIS-DAS to incorporate a holistic approach, making our competitive advantage one that combines the Deaf consumer experience with highest quality professional services. FIS-DAS looks forward to a long relationship serving the SSA in the coming years!