How to Find the Best Deaf Interpreting Services
To effectively communicate with a deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) person, you must go beyond traditional spoken languages like English or Spanish. American Sign Language (ASL) is the mode of communication one should use with such a person. And just like every other language, if you do not know how to sign ASL, you can always use an ASL interpreter.
Interpretation refers to the act of converting sign language or spoken dialogue from one language to another. In the case of an ASL interpretation, the interpreter establishes communication by converting a spoken language to ASL, and vice versa. In this article, we will provide some tips for finding the best deaf interpreting services for your needs.
How Does an ASL Interpreter Establish Communication Between a Hearing and a DHH Party?
You can establish a clear line of communication with a DHH party while speaking normally if you hire the services of an ASL interpreter. The interpreter will stand beside you and sign whatever you are saying to the DHH party so that he or she can follow along. When you’re done speaking (and your interpreter is done signing), the DHH party will then sign a reply to you, which your interpreter will convey back to you in the form of spoken English. Acting as a middleman between you and the DHH party, the interpreter will remove all communication barriers that exist between you and the other party.
It’s important to maintain eye contact with the DHH party when you’re speaking. This might feel uncomfortable at first for many hearing people (since we usually consider it rude to stare at a person for long periods of time). However, for DHH parties, it’s imperative that you maintain eye contact while talking. This lets them know that you’re still speaking to them and have not moved on to something else, since they can’t pick up any audio cues to understand that you have already concluded your dialogue.
How Can You Utilize the Services of an ASL Interpreter to Communicate with Deaf People?
You can rely on an ASL Interpreter to communicate with DHH people in numerous ways. The most traditional way of doing this is through an interpreter that is present on-site with you and the DHH party. The interpreter’s physical presence allows him or her to observe the communication between you and the other party and provide services more fluidly.
However, in the modern age of smartphones and the internet, the ASL interpreter no longer has to be present on-site to offer services. Sometimes, the need for an ASL interpreter arises without any warnings. In these situations, you won’t have the time to get an interpreter on-site quickly enough to offer services when you require them. This is where Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) services come in to save the day.
By taking out your phone and video-calling an ASL interpreter based in a remote location, you can easily communicate with the DHH party. The interpreter will hear what you are saying through your smartphone’s microphone and see what the DHH party is signing through the camera to understand what everyone is trying to communicate. They will talk to you using your smartphone’s speaker and sign to the DHH party using its display screen. Thus, the ASL interpreter will be able to offer interpretation services to you at any time and any place around the world, as long as you have a smartphone with a working internet connection.
People around the world use VRI for urgent interpretation services. Even emergency medical services often use VRI in emergency situations to save lives. There is no better substitute for VRI for urgent interpretation requirements.
Hiring the Right Interpreter for DHH Individuals
You might be tempted to use a family member or friend who knows ASL for interpreting. However, this is not always the best choice. Even though interpretation seems like a straightforward job, it requires years of training and experience to master. An interpreter has to convert rapid speech into sign language (and vice versa) in real-time, meaning they don’t have the time to consult a dictionary or other reference material for help when they come up against a difficult word. They need to have an extended vocabulary in multiple languages (spoken or signed) and a quick-witted mind to recall those words (or signs) quickly during the conversation. An experienced interpreter will often interpret verbatim (word-for-word) to minimize the risk of miscommunications. However, this is an extremely difficult feat to accomplish for an untrained interpreter.
All types of interpretation jobs are difficult, but perhaps the most difficult are those that involve sign language. Interpreting sign language for long periods takes a heavy physical and mental toll on the interpreter, and the quality of their interpretation will go down with time as they work continuously. This is why many official uses of interpreters require the hiring of more than one interpreter for long and continuous sessions. Usually, two interpreters are enough, as they each take turns of about fifteen minutes interpreting before taking a break. Trained interpreters will switch their positions quietly and seamlessly without breaking the flow of conversations.
If you expect your interpretation session to last longer than an hour, it’s advisable to hire two trained interpreters to keep up the quality of the interpretation.
Another thing to consider when hiring an ASL interpreter is what certification and specialty knowledge he or she has. Certain interpretation jobs require you to hire a certified interpreter with training and subject matter knowledge of the industry. These interpreters will have the necessary skills, contextual insight, and knowledge of technical terms and codes of conduct to interpret effectively in these environments. For example, a certified healthcare ASL interpreter is more suitable for interpreting between a doctor and his deaf patient, while a legal ASL interpreter is more suitable for interpretation in a courtroom.
How to Choose the Best Interpreting Agency
If you’re looking to hire the best deaf interpreting services, look no further than Acutrans. Acutrans has been in the business of providing certified translators and interpreters for over two decades. We have a team of over 2,000 linguists that can provide interpretation services in over 200 languages. No matter which industry you need interpretation services for, Acutrans will deliver a competent interpreter that will ensure the smooth flow of conversation and make your job easier.