Check Envelope

For those vendors/interpreters whose invoices are paid by check, rather than EFT, it could be helpful to know what the outside of the envelope looks like, so it is not set aside as junk mail.  At a glance, it might appear to be one of those solicitations that come in the form of a check that you are invited to cash as a way of accepting their offer.

Here is what the check envelope currently looks like:

Sample Check Envelope Image

We have also had interpreters/vendors wonder where the remittance information is because the check does not come with an accompanying stub.  The remittance information is in the top left hand corner of the check and will indicate the invoice number(s) being paid.  It is printed in relatively small font.

Also in the top left corner of the check are the big bold words “Account Number: No Account Number”.   This means that we, NIS, do not have an account number assigned to us by YOU, from your system.  If this check were paying the electric bill, instead of your invoice, our account number with the electric company would appear there.



A Conversation with Deaf Youth

At the Idaho Association of the Deaf Conference that Cliff and I attended a few weeks ago I had a chance to talk with Deaf youth about interpreters and interpreting services. Part of our conversation was focused on them identifying characteristics of both ideal and problematic interpreters. I thought their insight was valuable, interesting, and worth sharing:

The Ideal Interpreter:

  • Remains very engaged in the process with the Deaf person
  • Works with the student to develop appropriate signs for the class
  • Willing to be a friend
  • Signs clearly
  • Is willing to adjust and accommodate requests and needs
  • Shares knowledge of other sign languages
  • Has good ASL skills
  • Asks the teacher questions if the information is not understood to ensure an effective interpretation
  • Is friendly

The Problematic Interpreter:

  • Does not maintain eye contact while interpreting
  • Stops interpreting abruptly without a clear reason
  • Shows up late resulting in the Deaf student being unable to understand what’s going on and participate
  • Signs too fast so that the information is incomprehensible
  • Does not acknowledge my efforts to communicate my needs
  • Does not know the subject matter
  • Gets distracted by other stuff while interpreting
  • “Too SEE”
  • Does not receive feedback well
  • Defends self when getting feedback, “Well I learned that way!”
  • Knowing ASL is not enough- need to be able to interpret

There are some key themes that emerged in their descriptions of ideal and problematic interpreters. Good interpreters, according to the Deaf youth of Idaho, are the ones who have linguistic fluency in ASL as well as interpreting competency. They are constantly engaged in the interpreting process and interaction with the Deaf students to ensure needs are met. Positive rapport is a key value for those Deaf youth. Extralinguistic knowledge is essential. One student commented on the importance of having an interpreter who knows and understands Chemistry.

The Deaf youth in the discussion vary in how much they use interpreting services. Some attend the school for the Deaf without needing interpreting services. Some are mainstreamed full-time. However, they all agreed on what makes an interpreter ideal. Their insights are in line with things I have heard from Deaf adults over the years. What can you do, as an interpreter, to incorporate the wisdom of those Deaf youth in your practice?

Feel free to comment below and visit our posting about adult deaf consumers finding their voice. 

Shawn Jensen

In 1997 Shawn answered an old fashioned newspaper advertisement placed in the South Idaho Press; a newspaper that no longer exists. She, a former manager at Walmart, stood on the steps of an unknown home, took a leap of faith, and rang the doorbell.  I cannot now remember what stood out on her application/resume.  However, out of the 40 some odd respondents, she was the only one I invited for an interview.

The only thing that I recall about the interview now was that my son walked into the office during the middle of it, wearing only a towel.   We had a good laugh about that.  I suppose it’s always the laughter (and tears) that one most easily remembers.

Since Shawn couldn’t easily fit into the little home office I was using, and since there were half naked children running around much of the time, I rented a room in the lovely cinder-block office building a few blocks away.  If it was good enough for H&R Block (downstairs), it was good enough for us (upstairs).  It was one of the few office spaces available for small businesses to rent in Burley, Idaho.

Because I value surface area and had/have strong opinions on how to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome while using a keyboard, I purchased three large 8-foot banquet tables to act as our desks!  Two facing the wall, and one between us.  Shawn, I believe, likes to mention those banquet tables to people.  I take this as evidence that she was duly impressed with the furnishings.  Actually, now that I think about it, maybe we started off with just 2, because I can visualize her sitting with papers (invoices) all around her in the center of the floor, taking on the first project of catching up on some invoicing.  Surface area!  That’s probably why the 3rd banquet table got added.  Yeah, I think that’s it.

These were, mind you, the days before cyberspace.  We created a computer network within our own office and worked on that so much that after awhile, the computer tech guy running his business out of a corner office in the same building, said “Cliff, why are you coming to me with this question, you know more about networking computers now than I do.” I can’t tell you how many times I have been lying on the floor under Shawn’s various desks over the years saying “Don’t we own a vacuum?”  “We need a snacks policy” or some such thing, while messing with computer and phone wires.  Wires wires wires.  What a mess.

The level of comfort and trust required to share an office with someone is one thing.  Being a new employee and sharing an office space with the owner of the business while speaking to vendors and customers in front of that owner is quite another. It requires courage!  Shawn had it.  Her willingness to be vulnerable, to share that space of trust over those years, to allow me to see into parts of her personal life and she into mine, without ever breaking that trust, is something that I do not undervalue.

As I recall–from a story she told me later–she only stepped out of the office once, very early on, when she became nervous with the way I was addressing a representative of MCI.  Ha!  No, it wasn’t that I was getting loud . . . just pointed.

Shawn has observed other office employees come and go.  Very early on, she remarked that she never knew if someone was going to be there the next day.  Thankfully, we eventually found Trish, and the two of them became what seemed to be fast friends and effective office mates.  We miss you Trish!

Shawn tried working from her home at least once, early on, but . . . (see half naked kids sentence above) . . . we always came back to the cinder-block building, later moving into some bigger rooms with more windows.  Yes, in time she got a big fancy desk which became a pain to transport to her home again, home again, jiggety-jig. (Thank goodness I wasn’t around that day!) Come to think of it, that desk is now gone and, well, I don’t know.  I’m losing track of what the hell is going on with desks in home offices.  I just know I haven’t had to lie ion the floor in snack debris for a long time and that she has, at home, easier access to a vacuum.

The other thing I prize about Shawn is her ability to build and sustain warm relationships with our new and long time customers and vendors over the years.  Almost all of these relationships are sustained exclusively over phone and email.  She is, perhaps, more than anyone, the most familiar audible voice associated with the company and on a first name basis with so many customers and vendors!  I appreciate the care and professional attention she has given to all of them over the years.  I know they appreciate it too.  As we went out for Shawn’s 20 year anniversary dinner in Twin Falls I realized, with the help of others, that we should have probably had the dinner in San Diego, where some of the longest and strongest vendor/customer relationships exist for her.   Perhaps for her 25th year celebration we can make that happen.

Thanks for everything Shawn!



Here’s a photograph from around 1997 of the towel boy and his siblings:

Here’s a photo of the towel boy 20 years later:

Dear readers, time passes!






You can now TEXT us


We now have a TEXT ONLY number for our customers and contractors to use.

(858) 799-0123

Please consider adding it to your cell phone address book.




professional high definition camcorder in close up

Everyone’s life story matters and on Saturday September 26, 2015, from 9am-4pm NIS will be RECORDING DEAF STORIES at UNITY DAY in San Diego. (Lincoln High School)

Now is the time to reserve a spot for yourself or a Deaf friend or family member whose story you wish to archive! Those who participate will be given a digital copy of their interview, (recorded by a professional video production company) to use and archive as you/they wish along with a commemorative hoodie.

To sign up, visit Use the form on the page to tell us which 15 minute slot you prefer and your shirt (hoodie) size. Those who sign up after September 19th will miss out on the hoodie so sign up today!

How it works:

You do NOT need to come with a particular story in mind because a friend, family member, or one of us, will ASK YOU QUESTIONS to elicit a slice of your life story. If you would like us or your family member to ask you particular questions, then you can certainly suggest some in advance.

Here are a list of great questions found on that anyone can borrow.

If you have any questions please email us with the hashtag #deafstory in the subject line and we will be happy to answer.  You may also leave your question/comment below on this blog.

See you at Unity Day on September 26th!

A Shift in the San Diego Landscape


Thirty days ago NIS announced a restructuring plan to our staff interpreters in San Diego. Word of this quickly spread to the Deaf and interpreting community, leading to some rumors and speculation. Well, today is that day of transition, and I would like to speak about these changes.

First of all, this was NOT an easy decision for me or the company. I prize our staff interpreters and have enjoyed, and hopefully will continue to enjoy, a heartfelt friendship and association with all of them. I like them no less than my own family. Some of those caught up in this restructuring have been with us for OVER 20 years! To not be considered their employer anymore, is, for me, the end of a dream, a dream that I could be, practically speaking, someone’s “lifetime” employer. (It is a good thing I am typing this because I would have to leave the room if I was trying to say this in front of a live audience right now) (The people here in Starbucks must think I’ve had the worst coffee ever!)

I’d like to also say that I’m not the boss of everything. Like the weather, there are some things that are out of my control. Business landscapes go through changes in the weather. Some weather is manageable, some weather requires restructuring afterwards. Usually, after restructuring, the building is stronger and more prepared for the next storm that might arise. I expect that to be the case here too. We’re not folding our tent. We plan to be around for years to come.

When it was announced that NIS planned to release ALL of their staff interpreters into the freelance marketplace in San Diego, some with an interest in this didn’t know what to make of it. They asked..”what does this mean?”. Well, in real terms, if you’re curious, this involved 8 interpreters. Some assume, because of name recognition, that it must mean far more interpreters than that. This is because MOST of the interpreters we work with are freelance interpreters. These 8 will now be joining, if they choose, the much larger group of freelance interpreters in the area. It is very likely that if you are a customer/client accustomed to receiving service from them, that you WILL see them again.  We value the many relationships we have in San Diego with you, our customers, clients, and contractors. That has not changed and will never change. We will continue to do our very best to be flexible and professional when meeting your scheduling needs.

I just returned from San Diego. I had been there for a week. I apologize to those I didn’t get to see or those friends and professional colleagues who did not know I was in town! In the weeks and months to come I will be in San Diego more frequently and hope to see and catch up with all of you. Next time I will announce my arrival through Facebook and Twitter and should have more time to visit.

Cliff Hanks
Network Interpreting Service Inc.

20 Years of Excellence

Liz Mendoza

When Liz Mendoza joined NIS 20 years ago I knew a superstar had landed in our small and growing company. She had then, and has now, an uncommon passion for excellence. She cares deeply about her work, personal growth, and those organizations and individuals she associates herself with. I feel very fortunate to have had her energy, exceptional ASL fluency, and fighting spirit on our team these many years. NIS would not be what it is today without her.

Today I salute my friend and colleague for everything she has accomplished, personally and professionally, over the last 20 years, both inside and outside of the company, and extend a sincere thanks, specifically, for everything she has contributed to NIS and the Deaf Community over that span of time.

It’s been a great ride Liz. Thank you!

Cliff Hanks
President, Network Interpreting Service Inc.


20 Years of Dedication

angelajonesIn the dynamic business world of today, it is not all that common, from my point of view, for someone to dedicate 20 years straight to a particular company. That being said, there is nothing common about our vice-president, Angela Jones, who, this month, reached the 20 year mark with NIS.

I am so very grateful to Angela for her energy, integrity, and work ethic. She gives her heart to her work, making it possible for us to deliver a superior level of service to our employees, customers and vendors.

I both congratulate and thank her for the last 20 years. I can only hope there is another 20 ahead of us.

Cliff Hanks
Network Interpreting Service Inc.

Naomi Sheneman Joins R.I.D. Board of Directors

Network Interpreting Service, Inc. is proud to share the following announcement from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).

Naomi Sheneman, the Kaizen Director of NIS, is beginning her term as a member of the RID Board of Directors! She will be serving as the Deaf Member at Large and will no doubt be a great asset to the organization and our profession.

Please visit the following link for a full list of the current RID Board of Directors:

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