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Team Interpreting

Why are there two interpreters scheduled for my assignment?

We get this question a lot – and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.
To better explain why DSU implements this best practice – we’ll discuss what team interpreting is and when this practice should be applied.

Team interpreting refers to interpreting situations where two or more interpreters are working together with the goal of creating one interpretation. An interpreting team creates a collaborative approach by capitalizing on each interpreter’s strengths and supporting each other for consistency.

“Mental fatigue sets in after approximately 30 minutes of sustained simultaneous interpretation, resulting in a marked loss in accuracy. This is so regardless of how experienced or talented the interpreter may be.” ­

National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators

Research also indicates accuracy improves on longer or more complex assignments when implementing a team approach.

The decision of when to use a team rather than an individual interpreter is based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to:

  • length of time and/or complexity of the assignment
  • unique needs of the persons being served
  • physical and emotional dynamics of the setting
  • avoidance of repetitive stress injuries for interpreters

When necessary, team interpreting provides continuity in the interpreted message, increased accuracy, and optimum interpreting services for Deaf individuals.

Certified-Deaf Interpreters
Teams are typically composed of two or more hearing interpreters. However, Certified-Deaf interpreters (CDIs) are highly-trained Deaf individuals who team with a hearing interpreter. A CDI has excellent communication skills paired extensive knowledge and understanding on deafness, the Deaf community, and Deaf culture.

A CDI/hearing team approach can create optimal understanding by all parties and be the most efficient use of time and resources. A CDI/hearing team may be suggested when the Deaf individual uses a foreign sign language, unique signs, is impaired, or has limited communication skills. This approach is especially useful in medical and legal settings where the message communicated is typically complex.

Rest assured – when the details of your assignment direct the use of an interpreting team or even a CDI/hearing team, DSU will provide guidance on when each type of accommodation is most appropriate.