Is it your first time working with a BSL Interpreter?
Are you going to be working with a BSL Interpreter for the first time? It may even be your first time meeting a deaf person.
It’s natural to be feeling a bit nervous, but don’t panic as this is totally normal. That’s why we’re here!
So grab yourself a cuppa and a biscuit, and check out the tips below and find out how to work with a BSL/English Interpreter.
You’ll be an expert before you know it!
When you book the Interpreter, share your agenda, previous meeting notes or training materials as this really helps the Interpreter to prepare.
If when the Interpreter has arrived, you are still unsure how things will work - ask them. Interpreters are used to working in a wide range of different settings and are more than happy to advise you.
The deaf person will look at the Interpreter whilst you are talking, which will feel strange at first. Whilst you may want to look at the Interpreter who is verbalising what deaf person is saying – try to look at the deaf person, as this maintains rapport.
The Interpreter will most likely sit/stand next to the main speaker and will be opposite the deaf person. This means that the deaf person can watch the Interpreter and shift eye gaze to the speaker/presentation easily.
Do not place the Interpreter in front of a window as this will cause a shadow and the light levels will make it difficult for the deaf person to continue watching the Interpreter.
Speak to the deaf person in the first person. You don’t need to use language like….”please can you tell him” or “can you ask her” – speak as you normally would to someone who is hearing.
Speak at your normal pace – you don’t need to speak slower. Interpreters are trained to interpret simultaneously (sign at the same time you are speaking) and to work at speed.
Interpreting can be physically and mentally draining. Make sure if you are meeting for an hour, you schedule a quick comfort break
If you are meeting for more than an hour, you will need to consider having two interpreters that will work together.
The deaf person will also be tired and will need an eye break. Hearing people have the choice to look around the room or take notes during meetings which breaks the concentration, but deaf people have to constantly watch the Interpreter, so also allow for these eye breaks.
Be aware that Interpreters will interpret everything
that is said.