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Working with an Interpreter

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Photo by Harvey Finkle © 2014

 

  • Keep in mind that assigned language interpreter is a facilitator of communication between two languages–American Sign Language and English. Both deaf and hearing parties benefit equally by having a full interactive dialogue when a qualified interpreter is present.
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  • You should introduce yourself before the onset of the assignment to briefly discuss the subject matter at hand.  It will help the interpreter to familiarize with the subject in order to perform at his or her best.
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  • It is important to know that facial expression constitutes a large portion of a Deaf person’s communication in American Sign Language.  In other words, facial expression has a grammatical significance in American Sign Language.  Therefore be aware that there is a distinction between facial expression and emotional effect when communication to a Deaf individual.
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  • Do not make statements such as “Tell him” or “Tell her” when you are speaking through the interpreter.  Speak directly to the Deaf person as if speaking to a hearing person, and maintain eye contact with the Deaf person at all times.
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  • The sign language interpreter should sit next to you and slightly behind.  This enhances your ability to establish and maintain a rapport with the Deaf client.
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  • Remember that the sign language interpreter has a professional and ethical obligation to interpret everything that is uttered in the room.  This includes any side remarks, telephone conversations, or anything else that the Deaf person would hear if he or she were not deaf.  If you do not want the Deaf person to “hear” something then do not say it in the presence of the Deaf person or the interpreter.
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  • Do not discuss the Deaf person’s case with the interpreter in the presence of the Deaf person.  This can cause unnecessary suspicion and lack of trust on the part of the client.  In most situations, it is not necessary or appropriate to discuss the case with the interpreter at all, except to clarify a communication issues.