ASL Interpreter Referral Service Celebrates Two Decades In Business


Somerset-based ASL Interpreter Referral Service celebrated its 20th anniversary with a gala at The Marigold on Hamilton Street.

A mother-daughter business that was started in response to an act of discrimination celebrated its 20th anniversary Sept. 23 with a festive gala.

ASL Interpreter Referral Service provides sign language interpreters for the deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind in a variety of settings. The company was founded by Kathy Kady-Hopkins and her mother, Christine Sherwood, and has an office on Clyde Road.

It was a refusal by hospital staff to provide an interpreter for Kady-Hopkins – who is profoundly hard of hearing – when she was giving birth to her daughter that spurred the birth of the business.

“There were other times as well, but that one really took the cake and is why I’m here today,” Kady-Hopkins told the gala’s attendees at The Marigold banquet hall on Hamilton Street.


Kathy Kady-Hopkins signs to the crowd.

“We said we have to do something about this,” Sherwood said.

The two decided to combine their expertise and founded ASL.

At first, Sherwood worked out of Kady-Hopkins’ old bedroom in her New Brunswick home, and Kady-Hopkins worked out of her bedroom in her Franklin park condominium, Sherwood said. They moved to the Clyde Road office about 10 years ago, she said.

The company has about 175 sub-contractor interpreters, Sherwood said, and about 10 people on staff who do things such as coordinating and billing. She said the interpreters are carefully screened to be a good match for their particular client.


Christine Sherwood at the gala.

“We have profiles on the deaf community and we have profiles on the interpreters,” she said. “Interpreters can have varied skills, they can be certified to do legal interpreting or medical interpreting. So in their profiles, we have that information and we also match it with the particular client that they’re serving.”

Sherwood said that although other referral agencies have formed over the last two decades, ASL stands out among them because “we have a standard of excellence. We are particular about who we contract with, we have requirements that are possibly beyond want other agencies are asking for and we do that because our customers are asking for that.”

Expansion is in ASL’s future, Sherwood said. The company recently won a General Services Administration contract which will allow it to offer its services nationally.

“It really is ambitious,” Sherwood said. “Originally we thought we were going to be national, then we realized that the laws were so different in each state, it was really difficult to do that, so we decided to stay in the tri-state area.”

The contract will allow them to navigate the various regulations, she said.

2016 ASL 20th Anniversary Gala


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