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Queen's University

How do I work with an Interpreter?

In such a unique position, we are often asked "How do I work with an interpreter?" at Queen's University. On this page, you will find answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that will point you in the right direction.

Interpreter Check Lists

We have many different CHECK LISTS for different assignments (Committee Meetings, Defense, Workshops, Presentation, Etc.) to provide interpreters with information on prep materials. Please contact us for the checklists - they are very helpful!

Scheduling Meetings

Link to "Accessibility During Meetings"

Working with an Interpreter



What are ASL-English interpreters?
These interpreters are knowledgeable in the signed language and the culture of Deaf, and hard of hearing persons, and the spoken language and the norms of the (hearing) majority culture. In Canada, interpreters provide communication in both spoken English and American Sign Language (ASL). - from AVLIC website
Where does the interpreter stand during a class presentation?
In most cases, the interpreter usually stands at the front off to the side of the presenter. The interpreter will balance making sure that the Deaf person can see both the speaker and the interpreter at the same time, but will not be in the way of the presenter. There are no hard and fast rules for placement of interpreter, it can be different from site to site. 
When an interpreter is voicing for the individual who is Deaf, who do I look at?
When speaking to a Deaf person, remember to look at him/her rather than at the interpreter. The Deaf person may be looking at the interpreter in order to ‘hear' what us being said. The Deaf person will also look at the speaker to gage mood, tone, etc. from facial expression and body language. 
Can I use the interpreter as a model or part of my presentation?
No, the interpreter does not participate in events or conversations they are interpreting.
Do I need to speak slowly for the interpreter?
The best way to help an interpreter is to speak normally as an interpreter listens to concepts and not words. When someone speaks too slowly this can make it more difficult to interpret. That being said the interpreter may ask you to slow down, pause or repeat or rephrase your comments. Your cooperation with these requests will assist with the interpretation process. 
Can I talk to or ask the interpreter a question? While the interpreter is working s/he is not able to answer questions without stopping his or her work. However, s/he can interpret the questions and maybe the Deaf person will have the answer. 
Why is there a delayed response when I ask a question of the Deaf person? The grammar of ASL and English are very different. Sometimes what is said last in English is the first thing we would express in ASL for it to make sense. To make the interpretation grammatically correct and fluent, the interpreter needs time to process the information being said before s/he can interpret it. The best rule of thumb is to not wait for the interpreter, but to speak as you would normally. For listening it can feel awkward at first, but you will get used to it as time goes on. 

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