Communicating Using a Sign Language Interpreter

Have you ever communicated to a deaf person using a sign language interpreter?

Many would say that they have not experienced this type of conversation before, and certainly fewer can imagine how such a conversation will run.

Communicating Using a Sign Language Interpreter

Effectively working with a Sign Language Interpreter

We listed a few things to can keep in mind when working with a sign language interpreter. This will help ensure a smooth communication with a deaf person.

Mannerisms and how to act during interpretation:

  • Remember that you are talking to the deaf person and not the interpreter. Make sure that you face the deaf person and address them rather than the interpreter.
  • The interpreter will voice out what the deaf person will sign. Listen to the voice but look at the deaf person signing even if it is more natural to look at the person who’s talking.
  • Make sure the interpreter sits/stands near you since the deaf person needs to look at the interpreter while you’re speaking.
  • Speak at a normal pace although it wouldn’t hurt to pause occasionally after each sentence or after giving a chunk of information.  A sign language interpreter does not interpret word-for-word. They usually wait until they get a good amount of information before they relay the message.
  • If you need to quote something from a written document, give the interpreter some extra time. This is needed because grammar in writing is different from grammar used when conversing, meaning the interpreter has to do more effort in rendering the translation.


Watch below as an accredited sign language interpreter interprets what the infamous Mandela Memorial interpreter was actually saying:



The key role of an interpreter is to ensure that the message is communicated across all parties effectively.  They are not there to provide an opinion nor contribute to the conversation.  At Language Direct, you can be sure that we have the best team of professional interpreters.  Call us now if you need a sign language interpreter for your event.

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