The DARS Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS) Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) certification program is responsible for testing and certifying the skill level of individuals seeking to become certified interpreters in Texas.

The primary goal of the BEI certification program is to ensure that prospective interpreters are proficient in their ability to meaningfully and accurately comprehend, produce, and transform ASL to and from English.

Additional functions of the BEI program are to:

  • Improve the quality of interpreter services for Texans who are deaf, hard of hearing or who are hearing by administering testing materials that are valid, reliable, and legally defensible. See Frequently Asked Questions about BEI Test Validity, below.
  • Protect the interests of consumers who use interpreter services by regulating the conduct of interpreters certified by the program. See the Complaint Process at BEI Manual, Chapter 1.14.

BEI Certifications, Fees, and Requirements for Application and Eligibility

  • See BEI Certificates, below, for a list of certificates offered and their descriptions.
  • See BEI eligibility requirements for who is eligible for BEI certification.
  • See BEI fee schedule for fees associated with certification.

Applicants must submit a completed application form for the desired test and include:

  1. an applicable testing fee in the form of a check or money order;
  2. a copy of driver's license; and
  3. an official college transcript.

Or, applicants may apply for a test online using the BEI Registry.

Please contact the BEI office for further assistance at bei@dars.state.tx.us.

Important Updates

Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) Registry is Now Online!

Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) certificate holders and new candidates can now do the following online:

  • apply for a BEI certification test;
  • check the status of a BEI certification test application;
  • enter Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and DHHS sponsored training taken; and
  • verify certification status.

New BEI program candidates should register here
For further assistance, please contact the BEI office at bei@dars.state.tx.us.

BEI Certificates Awarded by DARS

Basic – This certificate ensures that the interpreter meets minimum competency standards to interpret in K-12 and postsecondary settings. The performance test emphasizes terms and scenarios found not only in general lecture and teaching situations, but in other educational contexts as well. The Basic certificate raises the standard of the current Level I interpreter.

Advanced – This certificate ensures that the interpreter has skills necessary to interpret in more complex settings than educational. The performance test emphasizes terms and scenarios in routine medical, public forums, government workforce, mental health, and social service settings. The Advanced certificate sets a clear standard for an interpreter wanting to work in the majority of settings and perform a wide range of tasks. The Advanced certificate raises the standard of the current Level III interpreter.

Master – This certificate ensures that the interpreter has skills necessary to interpret in the most complex settings, including complex medical and mental health. This test serves to identify interpreters who are qualified to work in the most critical areas.

Court Interpreter Certificate – Required by law to interpret all proceedings of Texas courts, including county, municipal, and justice courts. This certificate does not apply to federal court proceedings. A court proceeding can be civil, criminal, or juvenile and includes, but is not limited to, arraignments, mediations, court mandated arbitrations, depositions, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.  

Level I – Holders of this certificate communicate more successfully on a one-to-one basis. Their expressive skills are usually stronger than receptive skills and their sign vocabulary is limited. This test is no longer administered, but the certificate may be maintained with continuing education units.  

Level II – Holders of this certificate can handle some daily interpreting situations and usually exhibit either good transliterating or interpreting skills, but not both. This test is no longer administered, but the certificate may be maintained with continuing education units.   

Level III – Holders of this certificate can successfully handle most routine interpreting assignments and exhibit good expressive and receptive interpreting skills. They display a clear distinction between interpreting and transliterating and possess a sign vocabulary. This test is no longer administered, but the certificate may be maintained with continuing education units.  

Level IV – Holders of this certificate exhibit solid expressive and receptive interpreting skills and demonstrate excellent use of ASL grammar and ASL features. Their transliterating skills are strong and their processing is often at the textual level. They are able to successfully interpret in medical, legal, and psychiatric settings. This test is no longer administered, but the certificate may be maintained with continuing education units.  

Level V – Holders of this certificate exhibit near flawless expressive and receptive interpreting skills and display an extensive vocabulary. They interpret in medical, legal, and psychiatric settings and demonstrate sophisticated use of ASL grammar as well as ASL features. Their transliterating is conceptually accurate with appropriate mouthing. This test is no longer administered, but the certificate may be maintained with continuing education units.  

Level III Intermediary – Holders of this certificate are deaf or hard of hearing and may work alone or with a hearing interpreter while working in a variety of general settings and routine situations. They demonstrate flexibility in interpreting for a wide range of communication styles, which may include but not be limited to non-standard signs and gestures, limited communication skills, characteristics of Deaf Culture that may be unfamiliar to hearing interpreters, deaf-blind, minimal language skills, indigenous communication, and situations where intermediary interpreters are used for any discourse needs.

Level IV Intermediary  -  Holders of this certificate are deaf or hard of hearing and may work alone or with a interpreter while working in a variety of settings and situations requiring extensive knowledge and training in specialized fields which may include but not limited to mental health/psychiatric, medical/surgical, and matters involving juveniles.  They demonstrate flexibility, and display solid skills in interpreting for a wide range of communication styles, which may include but not limited to non-standard signs and gestures, limited communication skills, characteristics of Deaf Culture that may be unfamiliar to hearing interpreters, deaf-blind, minimal language skills, indigenous communication, situations where intermediary interpreters are used for any discourse needs.

Level V Intermediary – Holders of this certificate are deaf or hard of hearing and may work alone or with a hearing interpreter. They may work in a variety of settings and situations requiring extensive knowledge and training in specialized fields, which may include but not be limited to mental health/psychiatric, medical/surgical, court/legal, and matters involving juveniles. They demonstrate flexibility and display near flawless skills in interpreting for a wide range of communication styles, which may include but not be limited to non-standard signs and gestures, limited communication skills, characteristics of Deaf Culture that may be unfamiliar to hearing interpreters, deaf-blind, minimal language skills, indigenous communication, and situations where intermediary interpreters are used for discourse needs.

Oral Certificate: Basic (OC:B) – Holders of this certificate are able to repeat verbatim a spoken message using silent articulation that is clear and accurate and can be completely and easily understood by the speech reading consumer. Appropriate phrasing, facial expression, and natural gestures accompany the transliteration. They will be able to understand and transliterate or paraphrase accurately the message of a deaf speaker in a manner easily understood by a hearing consumer.

Oral Certificate: Comprehensive (OC:C) – Holders of this certificate are able to repeat verbatim a spoken message using silent articulation that is clear and accurate and can be completely and easily understood by the speech reading consumer. Appropriate phrasing, facial expression, and natural gestures accompany the transliteration. In addition, they are able to use appropriate verbal and non-verbal support techniques, including paraphrasing, when needed. They are able to oral interpret satisfactorily in especially demanding situations where messages may include highly technical vocabulary and/or complex language structure such as in legal, medical, and post-secondary settings. Finally, they are able to understand and transliterate or paraphrase accurately, in a manner easily understood by a hearing consumer, the message of a voiceless speaker or deaf speaker using voice.

Oral Certificate: Visible (OC: V) – Holders of this certificate are deaf or hard of hearing. They are able to understand and transliterate or paraphrase accurately, in a manner easily understood by a hearing consumer, the message of a voiceless speaker or deaf speaker using voice.

Trilingual (Advanced) – Holders of this certificate are able to meaningfully and accurately understand, produce, and transform ASL to and from English and Spanish in a culturally appropriate way. They are able to maintain appropriate delivery, pacing, coherence, and composure consistently throughout the interpretation. They possess the ability to produce spoken language, including accurate English and Spanish phonology, and use the appropriate rhythm, stress, and intonation without interfering with meaning or undermining comprehensibility. They are appropriate for routine educational and social service settings, such as K-12 educational and administrative interactions and information, professional development seminars, application for services, and counseling sessions.

Trilingual (Master) – Holders of this certificate are able to able to meaningfully and accurately understand, produce, and transform ASL to and from English and Spanish in a culturally appropriate way. They are able to maintain appropriate delivery, pacing, coherence, and composure consistently throughout the interpretation. They possess the ability to produce spoken language, including accurate English and Spanish phonology, and use the appropriate rhythm, stress, and intonation without interfering with meaning or undermining comprehensibility. They are appropriate for complex high-stakes settings, such as medical, mental health, quasi-legal, and educational settings that may involve patient information forms, legal proceedings, meetings with medical specialists, and special education meetings.

Morphemic Sign System (MSS) – Holders of this certificate are able to convey a message from Spoken English into morphemic signs, both expressively and receptively. They are expected to incorporate all features of morphemic signsThe certificate focuses on educational settings.

Signing Exact English (SEE) – Holders of this certificate are able to convey a message from Spoken English into SEE, both expressively and receptively. They are expected to incorporate all rules and features of SEE. The certificate focuses on educational settings.

Frequently Asked 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 (PDF)

Validity/Reliability Report (PDF)

What is the "grade" level of the TEP?

The grade level of the TEP is from the 11th to 12th grade.

What are the purposes of having it at that level of literacy?

An extensive analysis of the job and language tasks performed by ASL/English interpreters documented that competent interpreters 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.

Your test was proven Reliable and Valid. Is the data available for review?

Please see the online sources above for data about the reliability and validity of the test.

Do you recommend that the test-taker have some kind of college degree in order to pass the TEP? Or is "an average high school kid" expected to pass the TEP?

We do recommend intensive language study and practice to pass the TEP (see Candidate Study Guide). However, UA NCITRP knows of no correlation between educational attainment and interpreting ability. We have found that individuals with and without a university degree can pass interpreter certification examinations if they possess the required language and interpreting proficiency.

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 for 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 test like the TEP is set between 80% and 75% (64-60 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% cutoff of 60. 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 Study Guide for Interpreter Certification Candidates.