Frequently Asked Questions about Deaf and Hard of Hearing Issues



Demographics/Statistics | Interpreter CEUs | Interpreter Certification | BEI Test Validity | Programs/Services | ADA and/or Section 504/508 | Certificate of Deafness for Tuition Waiver | Telephone Assistance | Video Remote Interpreting



Questions About Population Demographics/Statistics:


How many deaf and hard of hearing people are there in Texas?

No census of deaf and hard of hearing persons has ever been carried out in the State of Texas primarily due to the cost of such a monumental effort. The "Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2005", U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics found:

"Overall, 17% of adults 18 years of age and over experienced some hearing difficulty without a hearing aid (defined as ?a little trouble,? ?a lot of trouble,? or ?deaf?). Men were more likely to have experienced hearing trouble than were women."


Again, based on figures from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey and 2005 U.S. Census Bureau population figures for Texas, indicate DHHS's total service population in 2005 was estimated to be more than 3.8 million people.


Questions About Continuing Education Units

You may contact our CEUs email address with questions regarding the CEU process at ceus.dhhs@dars.state.tx.us


Questions About Interpreter Testing and the Certification Process

You may contact the BEI staff with questions regarding interpreter testing processes and dates, fees, annual certificate maintenance, certificate reinstatement, continuing education requirements for five-year certificate renewal, or for filing a complaint against an interpreter. We can be reached at 512-407-3250 or via email at bei@dars.state.tx.us.


What are the eligibility requirements to become a Texas BEI certified interpreter?

You must

  • be at least 18 years old; and

  • not have a criminal conviction that could be grounds for denial, suspension, revocation, or other disciplinary action; and

  • possess at least an associate degree from an accredited college or university; and

  • pass the requisite examination for the certification level sought, which may be

    • the Test of English Proficiency (TEP), or

    • a performance test.


What do I send with my application for testing?

Along with your testing application for the TEP or a performance test, you must send a copy of your photo ID, an official college transcript, and a check, cashier's check, or money order for the testing fee. All applications must be sent to DARS DHHS PO BOX 12904 Austin, TX 78711. Do not send applications to our physical address.

Can I fax a copy of my college transcript for verification that I meet the educational requirement?

No, an official transcript from the college or university must be mailed with your application. Copies are not accepted.

I am working towards my Bachelor's degree and I currently have 100+ college credits, but do not possess an associate degree. Does this mean I do not meet the educational eligibility requirement?

DARS DHHS realizes that those working towards a higher degree at a college or university may not possess an associate degree, but may possess an equivalent number of college credits. For that reason, we will accept an official college transcript that verifies at least 60 credit hours earned with a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

I am expecting to complete my associate degree soon and I hope to take the exam immediately after graduation. Can I submit a testing application early to reserve a spot?

No, you must meet the eligibility requirements at the time you submit your application. All documentation for meeting the educational requirement must be submitted with your application.

I have a criminal conviction. Am I automatically ineligible to apply for testing?

Each case is reviewed on an individual basis. Please read Chapter 2 of BEI policies regarding criminal convictions.

What costs are incurred for certification?

The cost for the TEP exam is $75 and is paid directly to DARS DHHS. Additionally, most test sites charge a proctoring fee which is paid directly to the proctor or testing center that administers the TEP to you. If the exam is proctored by a BEI staff member, a proctoring fee does not apply. The nonrefundable testing fees for the TEP and performance tests are shown in the following table:

Certification Test

Applicable Fee

Test of English Proficiency

$75

Basic Performance Test

$125

Advanced Performance Test

$150

Master Performance Test

$175

Level III-Intermediary Performance Test

$50

Level V-Intermediary Performance Test

$50

MSS Performance Test

$80

OC:B Performance Test

$80

OC:C Performance Test

$100

OC:V Performance Test

$50

SEE Performance Test

$80

In addition to testing fees and proctor fees, you should be prepared to pay for travel expenses should you travel outside of your immediate area for an exam.

Where can I obtain a testing application?

All forms are accessible at www.dars.state.tx.us/dhhs/dhhsforms.shtml.

Where can I find detailed information on how to apply for the TEP and performance tests?

DARS DHHS has created informative pages on our website for the TEP and performance testing process. Visit the TEP information page here and visit the performance test information page here.

What study tools do you suggest using to prepare for the certification tests?

The BEI Study Guide for Interpreter Certification Candidates is available to you free of charge. You may download a copy on our website here or contact our office for a hard copy. You may contact us at bei@dars.state.tx.us with your name and address and your request for a study guide. The BEI Study Guide contains a TEP sample test, which will assist you in understanding the format of the examination. The sample test is not to be used as a review. Additionally, we recommend vocabulary building exercises and SAT/GRE prep courses and books. A few suggestions are:

I am not certified and I'd like to start at the advanced level. Is this allowed?

You must have passed the written TEP then you may apply in accordance with the following options:

Current Certification Status Performance Test Eligibility
Not certified

BEI Level I, BEI Level II, Signing Exact English (SEE), Morphemic Sign System (MSS)

Basic Level
BEI Level I, Basic, Level II, Level III, Level IV, Level V

RID Comprehensive Skills Certificate (CSC), CI or CT, or CI/CT

NAD-RID NIC or Advanced

Advanced Level
BEI Level III, Level IV, Level V, or Advanced

RID CSC, CI/CT

NIC Advanced or Master

Master Level
Not certified and the applicant is deaf Level III Intermediary
Level III Intermediary Level V Intermediary
Level I Oral Oral Certificate: Basic (OC:B)
Level I Oral or OC:B Oral Certificate: Comprehensive (OC:C)
Not certified and the applicant is deaf Oral Certificate: Visible (OC:V)

When and where is the performance test administered?

DARS DHHS has agreements, which are subject to change, with numerous sites for annual testing sessions. The sites and dates for testing are available online at www.dars.state.tx.us/dhhs/beisites.asp.

After receiving notification from the BEI office that my payment and application for the performance test has been received, I realized my testing preferences are no longer suitable for my schedule. Can I change my preferred testing site for the performance test?

Yes you may change your preferred testing site, but you cannot change or cancel your testing appointment once an invitation has been extended to you for reserving an appointment. The BEI office advises all candidates to notify us as soon as you realize your preferred testing site and date will not be feasible. Please contact us with an alternate preferred site before your application is processed and an appointment is offered.

After I take an exam, when can I expect the results?

TEP results are mailed to you within 30-45 days of the date you tested. In some instances the turn around time may be sooner, but we ask that you allow 30 days for processing. Performance Test results are mailed to you within 90-120 days of the date you tested. All results are mailed via regular mail and are not released via phone, email, or fax. If you need to complete the process within a specific time frame, we suggest that you apply in advance to give yourself ample time to take the examination and await the results.

If I fail an examination, how long must I wait before I can retest?

You must wait six months between examination dates.

Questions About BEI Test Validity

Which theory did the University of Arizona, National Center on Interpretation, Testing, Research and Policy (UA NCITRP), and DARS use to create the BEI Test of English Proficiency (TEP)?

The overall approach followed by the UA NCITRP and DARS to develop and administer valid and reliable testing instruments is thoroughly outlined in the following references:

American Educational Research Association. (1999). Standards for educational and psychological testing. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Bachman, L., and Palmer, A. (1996). Language testing in practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Additional information specific to the validity and reliability of the TEP can be found in the following online sources:

Candidate Study Guide

Validity/Reliability Report

What is the grade level of the TEP, and what is the purpose of having it at that level of literacy?

The grade level of the TEP is from the 11th to 12th grade. An extensive analysis of the job and language tasks performed by ASL/English interpreters documented that competent interpreter require a minimum English proficiency at the 11th to 12th grade level. Candidates who pass the TEP are then eligible for the more rigorous performance tests, which assess their ability to competently interpret in settings representative of authentic job and language tasks.

Is there a reason for completing the TEP in 75 minutes?

"Speededness" is a typical component of language proficiency tests, and especially certification tests, because it adds an element of difficulty reflective of language use in the real world. The TEP time limit was established through pilot testing, and reflects how long it takes even low-scoring candidates to complete the TEP.

I failed the TEP by one point. Why aren't allowances given to address close scores such as this?

Typically, the passing score for a high-stakes examination like the TEP is set between 75% and 80% (score of 60-64 for the TEP). However, to be especially fair to candidates and ensure that more candidates were eligible to take the performance test, the passing score for the TEP was set at 69%, or 55 points, which is five points below the 75% cut off of 60 points. This accommodation is referred to as a "passing band" of 55-60, and there is a high degree of confidence that a candidate who fails by one point (54) has not demonstrated the requisite minimum proficiency to pass the exam. Candidates who are this close to passing are encouraged to analyze their subsection scores and engage in intensive study of grammar, vocabulary building, and testing strategies using the references found in the BEI Study Guide for Interpreter Certification Candidates.

What are the certificate equivalences for the previous BEI testing system to the new testing system?

The previous BEI testing system and the new BEI testing system are separate. DHHS has not determined certificate equivalences.

Does DHHS recognize NIC certification for reciprocity purposes?

DHHS recognizes that the NIC certifies interpreters at varying levels of skill. However, since a study of both certification systems has not been conducted we are unable to determine certificate equivalencies.

I have taken and passed other English Proficiency exams, including the RID and NIC written tests. Does this mean I still have to take the BEI Test of English Proficiency?

Yes. All testing candidates for the Texas BEI certification must take and pass the requisite exams, which includes the Test of English Proficiency (TEP).

Questions About Maintaining BEI Certification

I passed both exams and now I am certified. What should I expect my responsibilities to be to the BEI department?

Congratulations on your certification! As a certified interpreter, you are expected to adhere to the Professional Code of Conduct and applicable rules that govern interpreters at all times. You are also required to pay an annual maintenance fee and submit the DARS3910 form. Every five years, you are required to renew your certification by submitting CEUs and completing the DARS3911 form.

How many CEUs am I required to accrue every five years?

We have created a CEU information page to assist you. You may access five year renewal and CEU information here, or contact Connie Sefcik-Kennedy for assistance. Connie can be reached at connie.sefcik.kennedy@dars.state.tx.us or by phone 512-410-1386 VP.

I do not see my name listed on the DARS website as a certified interpreter and I believe I missed my annual certificate maintenance due date. How can I correct this?

If you do not submit your annual certificate maintenance form and fee on time you will be changed to 'inactive' status and your name will be removed from the DARS website interpreter listing. A certified expiration notice will be mailed to you. Please download the appropriate form immediately and mail it to our office. You may renew an expired certificate that has not been expired for 12 months. Once the form and fee are received, you will be returned to active status and your name will appear on the website again. A new certification card will be issued to you at that time. Any certificate expired beyond 12 months may not be renewed.

How do I contact the BEI office to answer additional questions?

For questions regarding interpreter testing processes, dates, fees, annual certificate maintenance, policies, certificate expiration and reinstatement, continuing education units for five-year renewal, or for filing a complaint against an interpreter, we can be reached at bei@dars.state.tx.us, 512-407-3250 voice, or 512-410-1386 videophone. When calling, ask for a member of the BEI department.

Questions About Programs/Services:

Is there any financial assistance available to cover the cost of college education for a person who is deaf or hard of hearing?

The Certificate of Deafness for Tuition Waiver (CODTW) is a state of Texas program available to persons who have an unaided 55 dB (or aided 30 dB) average or greater loss in their better ear based on the average at 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hertz. The application requires an audiogram to be provided that represents the current hearing loss though there is no time limit on older audiograms. For those who do not quite meet this requirement there are alternative eligibility options which allow for less than 55 dB (unaided) or 30 dB (aided) when the speech discrimination score is less than 50%. Additionally, there is a verifying statement of "functional deafness" that a physician can complete and sign to provide another alternate method of meeting the eligibility criteria.

The CODTW is good for tuition and tuition-based fees at state supported colleges and universities. The CODTW cannot be used at private colleges/universities, proprietary schools or out of state schools. Click here to print a CODTW application.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services through DRS may also be a financial assistance resource for eligible persons who have a vocational handicap to employment due to their disability. Please be aware that not all persons with a disability have a vocational handicap. Click here to find the closest DRS office.


DHHS is in Austin. Isn't there someone closer to my area that knows about deafness and hearing loss issues who can help me?

DHHS has 26 Specialists for deaf and hard of hearing services located across the state and available to help you. These Specialists can provide hearing loss information and advocacy assistance to persons who are deaf/hard of hearing, as well as refer to other sources of assistance. The Specialists can also work with service providers who need information on making their services accessible to persons who are deaf/hard of hearing and can also be a resource to the parents and family members of persons who are deaf/hard of hearing. All the Specialist project offices have toll free numbers for persons who live outside their immediate area. You can also contact them via their e-mail. The DHHS web-site has contact information for the Specialist serving your area.


What financial resources are there to buy telephone equipment for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing?

The Specialized Telecommunication Assistance Program (STAP) is a voucher program that can assist with the purchase of telephone equipment to access telephone services for residents of Texas who have a disability (not limited to hearing loss) which limits their ability to use the telephone. The program can be accessed once every five years for equipment. The application can be printed from the STAP website

The following questions and answers are specific to ADA and/or Section 504/508 compliance for persons who are deaf to call businesses and agencies

Do I need to buy a TTY in order to be in compliance with the ADA, Sections 504 and/or 508?

No. If you are buying a TTY in order to be in compliance, the purchase may not meet the criteria in order to be in compliance. Purchasing one TTY for a large, medium or even small office might get a person who is deaf to the front desk receptionist but how will they speak to the person with whom they really need to speak? For compliance purposes multiple purchases of TTYs would be necessary. For offices that seldom receive TTY calls this is not cost effective methodology. DARS' Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services suggests that businesses and agencies make use of the myriad of free relay options and service providers available. In Texas one way to make a call to a TTY user without benefit of having a TTY yourself is to dial 7-1-1 and make contact with a Relay Texas agent who will dial your TTY number and relay the conversation back and forth for you. The service is free and open 24/7/365 (http://www.puc.state.tx.us/relaytexas/Overview.aspx).

Above we mention a "myriad" of relay options and service providers. Relay Texas is one provider of "text" relay. This can be done from a phone or from the Internet, including many wireless devices (which is then called, "IP Relay"). IP Relay providers are numerous. Another very popular relay option is Video Relay. With this option there is no typing and waiting for an agent to read back what is being typed to you. With Video Relay the person who is deaf sits in front of a monitor and watches a real-time interpreter interpret your conversation. The service is almost seamless and this type of call takes about the same amount of time as any other business call. As with all relay services there is never a charge and they are open 24/7/365.

When advertising that your business or agency is "deaf/hard of hearing and speech impaired" friendly, DHHS suggests you use the following language after or below your regular telephone number: "For people who are deaf, hard of hearing and/or speech impaired, please use the relay option of your choice to do business with us." When calling you, relay users will let you know which relay option and which provider they prefer to use and how to initiate a relay call back to them.

The following questions and answers are specific to the Certificate of Deafness for Tuition Waiver:

If I am moving from out of state to Texas, can I be eligible for the CODTW?

Residency for DARS programs and services begins when you move to Texas with the intention of staying. However, in order to use the CODTW you must meet the residency requirements for institutions of higher education in which you intend to enroll which can be found in the Texas Education Code 54.052.


Does the certificate cover expenses other than tuition?

The tuition waiver only covers tuition and tuition-based fees. If the amount of the fee is determined by the amount of your tuition (or how many hours/credits you are taking), then that fee should be covered by the waiver. The waiver never covers books, supplies or the cost of any needed accommodation.


Can my old audiogram be used for my Certificate of Deafness for Tuition Waiver application?

As long as the audiogram reflects your current hearing status there is no time limit on when the test was done.


If I meet the criterion in Part II, do I need to complete Part III and/or Part IV?

No. Parts III and IV are alternate criteria to establish eligibility when the regular criterion is not met.


Do I need to submit a new certificate to my college/university each semester?

No, the enabling statute states your certificate is good for the entirety of your program. The only time a college/university may ask for another certificate is if you change your major or focus of study.


I only have a copy of my certificate and the college/university wants an original, what do I do?

If the college/university wants a DARS issued document and you no longer have one, you can request one from DHHS. However, the date of the certificate will be the date you were originally deemed eligible for the program. You will need to let DHHS know your current address when you request the duplicate. (Send email to dhhs@dars.state.tx.us)


Can I use my Certificate of Deafness for Tuition Waiver (CODTW) for dual credit classes (taking a college level class for both high school and college credit)?

No, the enabling statute requires a high school diploma (or equivalent) so the CODTW cannot be applied to earning high school credits.


Will my CODTW cover the cost of taking a Continuing Education (CE) or online course?

The answer to this question depends on how the Continuing Education (CE) or online course you wish to take is funded at the college or university. If it is funded solely by the local tax base and course income, the answer is no. If the department receives formula or contact hour funding for that course, then the CODTW is applicable and the answer is yes. You will need to check with the college/university department and ask how that course is funded to determine CODTW applicability.


Is there a time when my Certificate of Deafness for Tuition Waiver (CODTW) may not be accepted at a Texas public college or university?

Yes, there are a few programs/courses of study around the state within a Texas public college or university that may not receive formula funding or contact hour funding. Since these specially funded courses do not receive any funding from the state, the state cannot extend the waiver program to them.


Is there a limit to the educational level I can achieve using my Certificate?

There is no limit. Individuals who qualify can enroll for studies up to and including the post-graduate level, as long as enrollment is at a state-supported college or university.


Do I need to re-apply for a certificate after a certain timeframe?

No, your certificate does not expire.


I have changed my name legally, so how can I get a new CODTW with the new name?

According to DARS/DHHS policy, to request a name change:

  • submit the request either by mail or by fax, and

  • include one of the following as proof of the name change:

    • marriage certificate,

    • divorce decree, or

    • legal name change document.


Other questions about this program should be directed to dhhs@dars.state.tx.us or CollegeForTexans.com

The following questions and answers are specific to STAP:

How do I inform you which manufacturer and model device I want on the application?

You do not need to decide on either the model or manufacturer of the device that you are requesting when you submit your application.

Vouchers are printed with a general classification of device (amplified telephone, voice activated answering phone, etc.) with a maximum dollar amount value. You are only required to select the category of device that will assist you in using a telephone from the list found in section 2 on the application. For example, an individual with a hearing impairment requires a device that amplifies the incoming volume of their telephone. The device type that is best suited to address their need would be an amplified telephone, or one of the other amplifying devices on the equipment selection list. After you receive a voucher, you can exchange it with a registered vendor for the specific device that you select at that time. (A list of vendors is mailed along with the voucher)


How long before an applicant's 5 year anniversary date can a person reapply?

Applicants may apply up to 6 months prior to the applicant's anniversary date. Applicants who apply between 3 months to 6 months prior to their anniversary dates will receive a letter that states when their vouchers will be printed. Applicants who apply 3 months or less prior to their anniversary dates will not receive a letter from DHHS. After the applicant's anniversary date has passed, a voucher will be issued.


Is it possible to get another voucher if I have not used the one I currently have and it has expired?

To get a new voucher, send back the old one with a request to reissue it. Use the address that is on the voucher. STAP staff will reprint it and send it back to you with a new expiration date. You will then have another 3 months to use it.


Can I change my mind and have the voucher issued for a different device?

Yes, as long as the request to select a different device is put in writing and signed by the applicant and mailed to the STAP office.


How long does the STAP office keep my application before I must reapply?

An application is kept for one year from the time the application is processed. After that year, a person must reapply.


What if an applicant receives and exchanges a voucher for a device and then reapplies for another voucher that functions in the same manner as the first device that they received? (For example can an applicant get an amplified attachment and then ask for an amplified phone? What if an applicant got an amplified phone the first time and then wants another voucher for an amplified phone that has stronger amplification?

An individual can get a voucher for a second device only if their disability changes and the first device no longer provides them with adequate telephone access. If this is the case the second application should be certified as the applicant having a change of disability and there must be a statement in writing that explains why the first device is no longer sufficient.


Is an applicant who applies under "change of disability," and indicates that their disability has improved eligible to request a different device? (For example an individual who is certified as deaf gets a TTY, then is certified as hard of hearing (due to a cochlear implant) and wants an amplified phone.)

An individual is not eligible to receive a new device by applying under change of disability if the previous device that they received will still provide them telephone network access. In the example stated above a previous applicant who received a voucher for a TTY can still use the TTY after their change of disability.

The following question and answer is specific to Video Remote Interpreting:

Are there any limitations to VRI (Video Remote Interpreting)?

VRI is new to the industry of providing communication access for persons who are deaf/severely hard of hearing who use sign language as their primary mode of communication. The National Association for the Deaf recently published its own article about the aspects of VRI. Read the NAD's article about VRI. | Accessible version | Link to NAD's Position Statement on VRI Services in Hospitals |