Many people have questions about sign language interpreters. Below is some basic information about sign language interpreters and how to work with one. More detailed information about sign language interpreters will be provided in future posts.
What does a sign language interpreter do?
• Allow more direct communication.
• Improve communication accuracy and avoid misunderstandings.
• Decrease frustrations.
• Raise the “comfort level” of those interacting.
• Facilitate more complete communication, so that both individuals feel free to ask questions and offer more in-depth explanations.
• Save time
• Make clear any non-verbal communication
How do you work with a sign language interpreter?
The interpreter makes communication possible between persons separated by different language modes. Listed below are some tips on how to work with an interpreter.
• First remember the interpreter’s role is to facilitate communication. It is inappropriate for you to address him/her directly.
• Maintain eye contact with the deaf person, not with the interpreter.
• Allow the interpreter to position themselves near you, this will allow the deaf person to watch the interpreter and your expressions as needed.
• Address the deaf person directly, avoid phrases such as, “ask her this…”, or “tell him to . . .” Talk through, not to, the interpreter.
• The interpreter is bound by a Code of Ethics which requires him/her to interpret everything communicated, whether it be signed or spoken. This includes any phone calls or comments you make in the deaf person’s presence. It is inappropriate for you to request the interpreter to keep anything from the deaf person
• In situations of a serious nature, the use of a deaf person’s close friend or family member as an interpreter is inappropriate.