Working with an Interpreter - Hearing and Speech Agency

Working with an Interpreter

  • If you are using any highly technical language, review it with the interpreter before the meeting.
  • Discuss ways for the interpreter to ask for clarification during the interaction (for example, raising a hand for the speaker to slow down).
  • Position the interpreter so that the deaf person can see the speaker and the interpreter at all times. Avoid direct light behind those involved in the interpreting situation as it can hinder visibility.
  • Speak directly to the deaf person, not the interpreter. Keep eye contact with the deaf person and direct your remarks to him/her. Always observe the same courtesies in the presence of a deaf person that you would with a hearing person. If there is information you do not want interpreted, it should be discussed privately.
  • The interpreter is usually one sentence behind the speaker. This time lapse may cause a delayed response from the deaf person. If reading a speech, pause at the end of important points. This is more helpful to the interpreter than reading slowly.
  • Provide the interpreter with any information relevant to the assignment before it begins. Items such as agendas, programs, copies of speeches or sheet music can be invaluable to the interpreter.

Typical Examples of Interpreted Situations Include

  • Education
  • Counseling
  • Employment
  • Medical care
  • Mass media
  • Legal/court rooms
  • Religious settings
  • Law enforcement
  • Recreation
  • Social services
  • Cultural events
  • Community meetings
  • Financial transactions
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Conventions
  • Job interviews 

The Interpreter’s Role

An interpreter acts as a communication link between people who are hearing and people who are deaf. Sign language is a highly developed form of visual communication with a unique grammatical structure. Hand signs, finger spelling, gestures, lip movements, facial expressions and body movements are all used to express and receive messages. Similarly, an oral interpreter may use more than lip movement when communicating the message.

The responsibility of the interpreter is to interpret everything that is said into sign language and to interpret everything that is signed into spoken English. The interpreter conveys the emotions and messages of the people involved and does not add or delete information. The interpreter is required to remain neutral and does not share opinions or give advice.

Why the Need for an Interpreter? 

Interpreted situations occur where and when clear, accurate communication needs to take place between a deaf or hard-of-hearing person and a hearing person. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act require most employers, schools, government entities and places of public accommodation to provide qualified interpreters or auxiliary aids to ensure effective communication.

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