Working with Interpreters

Interpreters facilitate communication in both directions—your words to your audience and their signed questions/responses to you. It is difficult for the audience and the interpreter to process multiple channels of communication simultaneously. Therefore, it is critical to allow ample time for your audience to receive and to assimilate your information.

  • Provide a copy of your presentation or outline to interpreters for preparation purposes well in advance.
  • Prior to your presentation, introduce yourself to the interpreter.
  • Speak clearly and at normal tone and pace.
  • Talk directly to the audience, not to the interpreter.
  • Maintain a clear line of sight between the interpreter and deaf participants. Do not stand or walk in front of the interpreter.
  • Allow only one person to communicate at a time.
  • Visual information can come from the interpreter or from your visuals, but not from both at the same time.
  • If the room will be darkened for media, discuss this with the interpreter and/or your host ahead of time so that appropriate lighting of the interpreter can be arranged.
  • Pause periodically between topics/slides to allow the interpreter and the audience a break from processing stimuli.
  • Repeat audience questions and allow time for interpretation before you respond.
  • If you are running out of time, do not start talking faster. This is counterproductive for effective communication.
  • Acknowledge your interpreter at the beginning and at the conclusion of your presentation.