Working with Interpreters
In-person sign language interpreting is just one of the many UCIS services university students, faculty, and guests can choose to communicate easier with their peers. This page was created in order to better understand the process of sign language interpreting, if you wish to assist sign language interpreters in any way, or have not worked with a sign language interpreter previously and have questions.
What is Sign Language?
Sign language is a language that employs a system of hand gestures and their placement relative to the upper body, facial expressions, body postures, and finger spelling that has traditionally been used by and with deaf people. A common misconception is that sign language is dependent on spoken languages. However, sign language was developed by the people who use it (d/Deaf people, people hard-of-hearing, etc.). Similar to how other languages develop, sign language sometimes borrows components from spoken languages. On the whole, though, sign language is independent from spoken language with its own grammar rules, syntax, and lexicon.
What does a Sign Language Interpreter do?
The job of a sign language interpreter is to effectively and accurately convey classroom/event content through the use of sign languages in both group settings or one-on-one. Interpreting is the act of conveying meaning between people who use signed and/or spoken languages.The interpreter does not attempt to change the content in anyway, but rather provide the most accurate and precise translation and therefore might interpret more than just spoken words. Inflection and tone in the voice, cultural background, and subject context all play a part in an authentic translation between languages.
Considerations when Working with Interpreters
Ideally, a sign language interpreter should provide communication/translation effective enough to the point where it seems like they aren’t even there. That being said, there are resources and accommodations that they need in order to provide translation:
- Have an open, highly visual space for the interpreter to work
- Keep in contact with the interpreter and students/guests that require interpreting services
- Inform the interpreter as well as UCIS of any lesson changes, changes in time or location, or cancellations as soon as possible
- Submit Preparatory Work
Prep Materials ensures that the interpreter can provide accuracy and message fidelity in real time. Prep materials can range from anything such as lesson outlines and drafts of speeches to lecture slides and discussion readings. A complete list can be found below, but a general rule is that if you need it to run a lesson or event, the interpreter needs it to interpret. Materials can be emailed to the specific interpreter assigned to the event or through our Preparatory Material Submission Form.
Suggested Sources for Prep Materials
- Research articles
- Chapter summaries
- Powerpoint presentations
- UConn Library System
- Pre-recorded lectures
- TED Talks
- ASL Vlogs
- News outlets
- Staff Interpreters available for consultation
- Content experts available for workshops and in-service trainings
- Request to schedule individual prep sessions direct with consumers, if/when appropriate
- In some circumstances, interpreters may be granted access to attend classes, lectures, colloquia, and other scholarly events to help build schema around a given topic.
- If a student is absent and there are no other needs to be covered on campus, service providers are encouraged to remain for the duration of the class as a way to enhance their contextual knowledge of the subject.