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Interpreter Etiquette

These tips will enhance your experience in working with an interpreter.

Meet briefly with the interpreter beforehand. This is the best way to clarify any special vocabulary or jargon, make seating and lighting arrangements, and provide the interpreter with any necessary written information.

The interpreter will place themselves within the sightline of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing consumers. This means they will sit or stand as close to the hearing speaker as possible so the Deaf/Hard of Hearing person can pick up on facial expressions and body language from their hearing counterpart. Exactly where the interpreter stands or sits depends on the situation.

Speak naturally. Relax! The interpreter will let you know if they need you to slow down or clarify anything.

Avoid private conversations. Everything you or others say in the presence of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing person will be interpreted.

Maintain eye contact. This is a very important piece of etiquette - it takes some getting used to, but keep your eye gaze on the Deaf/Hard of Hearing person, not on the interpreter. If other people interrupt your conversation, signal that you'll be with them in just a moment, and then finish your conversation.

Avoid asking the interpreter's opinion of the conversation's content. Interpreters follow a code of ethics that requires confidentiality and impartiality. If you want to know how things are going, speak to the Deaf/Hard of Hearing person and the interpreter will interpret your inquiry.

Provide a short break every hour. Especially if the interpreter is working without a partner, a short break will provide a physical and mental recess, ensuring the most accurate and successful interpretation possible. For a long or intense assignment, two interpreters may be utilized.

One person should speak at a time. It's very common among hearing people to speak over each other, hold side conversations, or allow no time between comments. An interpretation's success depends on the ability of the interpreter to hear each comment individually. Please encourage others in your group to follow this tip.

Last modified November 08 2011 09:31 AM

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