Working with an Interpreter

  • You will be communicating with deaf/hard of hearing individuals through the interpreter. The interpreter signs what is happening in the classroom. This includes the lecture; student discussion, comments, and questions; and environmental sounds inside and outside the classroom. No personal communication occurs between the interpreter and the student during the class period.
  • The interpreter will adjust to your pace. If necessary, the interpreter will ask you to repeat information. This is to ensure that the deaf/hard of hearing student receives all of the information.
  • Generally, the interpreter will stand either to your left or to your right. This enables the student to maintain eye contact with both you and the interpreter. Wherever the interpreter stands, there must be good lighting available.
  • In using demonstrations and visual aids, it is important for the instructor to allow extra time for students to see what is being demonstrated as well as to see what is being signed.
  • Avoid such vague references as “this” and “that.”
  • When using an overhead projector, slides, videotapes, and/or films, it is sometimes necessary to either reduce the lighting or turn off the lights completely in the classroom. In such situations, it is important to provide a small lamp or spot to focus on the interpreter while discussion or explanation takes place.
  • Sign language does not contain signs for every word in the English language and it is particularly lacking in specialized jargon. Usually, the interpreter will have to fingerspell such words using the manual alphabet.
  • Deaf/hard of hearing students may use a notetaker instead of taking their own notes. This will allow closer attention to be paid to the interpreter.
  • If the student is not in attendance, the interpreter will remain for 15 minutes before leaving.
  • Long stretches of interpreting may require a team of interpreters working together. They will take turns, rotating approximately every 20 minutes throughout the class period. This typically occurs in classes lasting more than 90 minutes.
  • If you wish to discuss any problems with the interpreter about the interpreting situation, please wait until a break or after class. Together, with the student, decide on solutions to the situation.
  • Help the interpreter stay in his/her role. Avoid speaking directly to the interpreter or asking questions of him/her during the class period. The interpreter will not feel free to answer for himself/herself until after the class is over.
  • If you would like to speak to the student after class, and will need the assistance of the interpreter, ask the interpreter if she/he can stay for a few minutes. Do not assume that the interpreter is free, she/he may have another assignment immediately.
  • The interpreter/interpreting service will also need to be granted access to Blackboard. Please complete this process when requested to do so by Disability Services. (Granting access allows the interpreter to prepare for lectures and course information.)
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