How Do I Use An Interpreter?   

Many hearing people wonder how to use the interpreter appropriately so as not to offend the Deaf person.

  • Talk directly to the  Deaf person as if they can hear. You may notice the Deaf person looking back and forth between you and the interpreter.This is a natural part of the process.
  • Do not tell the interpreter, “Don’t interpret this,” or “Don’t tell him/her,” because the interpreter is required to interpret everything that is said.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the Deaf or hard of hearing person, “How can I improve the communication process?”
  • Use models or pictures if they are available.
  • Be aware that even though they may not be highly fluent in their second language, English, it doesn’t mean the Deaf or hard of hearing person is intellectually inferior. They are highly fluent in their first language, ASL. Most hearing people are not fluent in ASL.
  • Use personal references such as “I” and “You” when communicating with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Avoid speaking of the Deaf individual in the third person; phrases such as “ask her” or “tell him” can be confusing because the interpreter will sign “ask her” or “tell him”. The Deaf person will be saying, “Tell who?”.
  • Speak at a reasonable pace.
  • Look at the Interpreter Professional Code of Conduct under “About Us” to learn more about the interpreter role.