How to Use an Interpreter
Interpreters work between and variety of settings and therefore a variety of clients. Sign-Language-Users identify within Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Hearing cultures. Interpreters are skilled with matching the preferences of the consumer so it best to ask the Sign-Language-User what their preference may be. When working with a Sign Language User:
- Remain in the visual field of the Sign Language User for most effective communication. Keep obstructions (pens, cups, large mustaches) away from the mouth.
- Communicate with the Sign Language User in the first person. For a smooth and easy interpreting process, refrain from "tell them" statements.
- Speak at a normal volume and maintain normal mouth movements. Exaggerated movements only distort the lip patterns into unreadable expressions.
Tips for Effective Communication
- Do not engage the interpreter in the conversation. While the interpreter is working their focus will be to convey the message. Please hold questions and comments meant for the interpreter until they are free to talk.
- Give the interpreter time to interpret the message. Do not be alarmed if there is a delay in response time this is normal . ASL is a unique language with it's own syntax and grammar, completely separate of English and this takes time to interpret accurately.
- Speak at your normal pace. The interpreter will tell you if you are speaking too fast. Occasionally, you may just have to pause now and then to allow the interpreter to catch up, but if this is necessary, the interpreter will indicate the need for a pause. A natural delay is caused by the process of passing information through a third party. This decalouge in time is necessary because what is being signed in ASL has a different syntax, grammar and cultural innuendos separate than that of spoken English.
- Providing materials in advance, aids the process. The
interpreter may not have a detailed knowledge of the subject they are
translating. While interpreters work is a variety of
settings-educational, medical, business, theater, legal- they may not be privy to the specialized jargon associated with your organization. Providing
glossaries, notes, and handouts in advance will help them prepare,
particularly where unfamiliar words or names will need to be used.
- Interpreters need breaks. Interpreting is physically and mentally taxing, therefore, an interpreter working on their own needs regular breaks (usually every 20–30 minutes). Often a team interpreter is provided if material is dense, lengthy, specialized or high risk (legal).
- Don't be alarmed if the interpreter is signing and you're not speaking.
Interpreters are there to provide equal access to communication. This
could mean interpreting environmental cues, all audible conversations,
and engaging in possible side conversation with the Deaf person
regarding situational dynamics. This gives way to the
interpreter signing when it appears no one else is speaking. Having
that said, private conversations should be held in private. Censoring
communication through the interpreter is not permissible.
- Do not involve the interpreter in demonstrations. The interpreter is actively working to process the message from one language into another with respect to consumer preference, register, specific jargon, multicultural differences, and cultural mediation.