Working with an Interpreter

Here are some tips that will help you communicate better when you are using a sign language interpreter.

  • Speak directly to the individual or presenter.  Never say to the interpreter, “Tell him/her…..”

  • Speak at a normal pace and in a tone appropriate to the situation.

    • The interpreter or consumer will inform you if the communication is not smooth.

  • Ensure that only one person speaks at a time.

  • Create an unobstructed line of view between the interpreter and the individual(s).

  • For any printed materials, please provide an extra copy for the interpreter.  In advance, whenever possible.

    • Allow time for reading any materials prior to additional descriptions or questions.  It is impossible to focus on the reading and watch the interpretation simultaneously.

  • Understand that the interpreter’s responsibility to translate everything that is spoken.

    • Acknowledge that there is a processing time involved with interpretation; the process is not instantaneous, there may be extensions required.

    • Not all communication is possible word for word; some translations may require additional time to communicate the information accurately. 

  • The interpreter is not trained in your field of expertise; s/he is trained and certified in professional interpretation.

  • Know that strict confidentiality is adhered to by all certified interpreters.

  • Remember that each person in unique and no interpreted situations will be alike; please allow for flexibility in continuity of services.

  • Acknowledge any questions, and allow for explanation.

    • Repeat, if necessary, to the group to ensure that all were able to hear the question being answered.