It is crucial to understand that as a hearing person there are specific rules and expectations when working with a Sign Language Interpreter. This includes addressing the Deaf person directly and avoiding speaking about them in the third person using phrases like 'Tell them' or 'Explain to them', to avoid getting into personal conversations with the interpreter.
We understand that adhering to these guidelines can be challenging at times. We also understand that sometimes you just don't know what should be done. And that's where you ask the interpreter.
Mistakes can happen, and that's perfectly okay. However, it is imperative to highlight an incident involving one of our dedicated interpreters which occurred recently and has thrown up some queries for all involved.
During a recent interaction, our interpreter was facilitating communication between a Deaf individual and a hearing person. At one point, the hearing person requested that the interpreter refrain from signing what he had just said.
Here's the scoop: once you say it out loud, the interpreter is on it. It's their job, and it's the Deaf person's right to have equal access to all communication!
Upon the interpreter's explanation of the above, the hearing individual expressed frustration, suggesting that the interpreter should know what to sign and what to leave out.
First things first, we don't stand for members of our interpreting team or our d/Deaf clients being treated unfairly. Equal access means just that!
Second, if it's not meant for all ears, just keep it to yourself.
The Sign Language Interpreter must interpret everything that is said and everything that they hear, including background noises. And they voice everything that is signed.
So, next time, please avoid to say "Oh! please, don't interpret that!" or asking the interpreter to refrain from interpreting some of what you say or ask. Instead, let the conversation flow naturally.
For a comprehensive guide on working with a sign language interpreter, please refer to our basic guidelines. It will help you to make the interaction comfortable, easy, and mistake free: https://www.deafumbrella.com/post/is-your-first-time-working-with-a-sign-language-interpeter-let-s-make-it-easy
We also recommend reviewing the poster below for a quick reference before your interaction:
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Together, we can create an inclusive and respectful environment for all.