How do I work with an interpreter?

Even though our interpreters are licensed professionals, there are still some ground rules for working with them during a doctor’s visit, business meeting, or wherever you may need their services. Following these basic guidelines will help your interpreter facilitate communication between you and your client in the most effective way possible.

Before the event:

  • Meet or talk to your interpreter if possible.
  • Give the interpreter copies of any materials, presentations, or outlines being used.
  • Schedule ten-minute breaks every hour for the interpreter.
  • Discuss the best location for the interpreter and the participants. Reserve seats if necessary.
  • If your event includes specialized or technical words, provide the interpreter with definitions or a handout that includes spellings of words so they can be interpreted correctly.

During the event:

  • Speak and look directly at the person with whom you are communicating, not the interpreter.
  • Speak distinctly and at a normal volume and pace.
  • When using visual aids, allow additional time for Deaf individuals to see the interpreter and then look at the visual aid.
  • In group situations, speak one at a time.
  • Allow a ten-minute break for each hour of interpreting during the event.

Try to avoid walking between the interpreter and the Deaf person, engaging the interpreter in conversation during your session, and touching the interpreter while they are working. These activities can distract our interpreters while they are working.

Follow these basic guidelines and everyone at your meeting will have a great experience!