tips on using ASL interpreters
Imagine you are planning to give a presentation and you have just learned that there will be persons who are Deaf in your audience. Here are a few tips to assist you in making the best use of a professional that will serve as an extension to you and your presentation.
What to Expect
- Positioning: The interpreters should know their position prior to the beginning of the presentation. This position will take into account easy transition visibility between the interpreter and presenter, lighting, and multi-media presentations.
- Interpretation: The interpreter will use sign language to interpret all that is heard or communicated. Likewise, he/she will use spoken English when a person who is Deaf is communicating through sign language. At no time is the interpreter joining the discussion.
- The Interpreting Team: To reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries, programs lasting over an hour sometimes require two interpreters in order to present the best possible interpretation of the program. The interpreters will switch from primary interpreter to supporting interpreter every 20-30 minutes.
- Throughout the presentation you may notice the interpreter continuing to interpret even after you have paused. Also the interpreter may not begin signing right away at the exact time you begin speaking. This is normal. This allows processing time crucial to provide an accurate interpretation.
To improve your presentation for the Deaf members of your audience, here are some tips to consider prior to the day of the program.
- Any outlines, scripts, handouts, agenda, or reference material need to be provided in advance to the interpreter or coordinator of the interpreting services.
- Before you begin, inform the interpreter so he/she may get into position.
- Speak naturally. Avoid changing your speech pattern. Do not speak more slowly, loudly, or over-articulate your words. The interpreter will keep up we promise.
- Be specific when drawing attention to visual aides. Avoid phrases such as, "Look at this." "Look at that corner." The interpreter cannot see "this and that". Try to use descriptive phrases such as, "drawing your attention to the bottom left hand corner." This will help the interpreter and improve the quality of your presentation to the Deaf audience.
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