DeafComm_2Why use a Deaf Interpreter?

Often, a Deaf/hearing interpreter team can communicate more effectively than a hearing interpreter alone. The benefits are as follows:

  • Optimal understanding by all parties
  • Efficient use of time and resources
  • Clarification of linguistic and/or cultural information to reduce misunderstanding(s)

Who Benefits From Using a Deaf Interpreter?

A Deaf interpreter is highly recommended in situations where misunderstandings can result in especially serious outcomes. Deaf interpreter services should be used in the courts, where a person could be wrongly convicted, by the police when interviewing victims, witnesses or suspects who are Deaf, or in mental health settings where clear and accurate communication assists professionals in determining correct medication or other interventions. Children’s Aid Society workers may need to use the services of a Deaf interpreter to ensure children are thoroughly protected.   The following groups are especially needful of this service:

  • Deaf immigrants
  • Deaf persons who have been socially isolated (ie. From rural areas, inmates of mental facilities or prisons)
  • Deaf Plus (mentally ill, developmentally delayed, educationally deprived)
  • A Deaf person who is not comfortable with hearing people
  • A Deaf person who is seriously ill, injured or dying (the Deaf person’s ability to produce signs clearly or use both arms when signing may be affected)
  • Deaf children who have not been exposed or who may have had limited exposure to English and/or ASL

I’m Hearing. What do I do?

There is no need for you to do anything differently. Simply communicate as you would with a hearing person, maintaining eye contact. You do not need to address the interpreters at all.  If necessary, the interpreters will advise all participants on how best to work with the team. This may include:

  • allowing more time for the interpreting process
  • requiring the speaker to moderate the pace of his/her speech
  • appropriate seating arrangements, etc.

How Deaf Interpretation Works

When a Deaf interpreter is used as part of the interpreting team, he or she interprets what the hearing interpreter says, using an appropriate level of ASL, sign, gesture, or other communication strategies to convey the message to the Deaf consumer.

It looks like this:

  • Hearing Person → Interpreter → Deaf Interpreter → Deaf Person
  • Hearing Person ← Interpreter ← Deaf Interpreter ← Deaf Person

The Deaf and hearing interpreters may sometimes consult with each other in order to arrive at the best interpretation.

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