Working with an Interpreter
Interpreting requires intense concentration and physical effort. To maintain a high standard of accuracy, the interpreter will require short 5 minute breaks during an assignment approximately every 25 minutes. If the assignment is over an hour long, or complex in nature, then two interpreters may be required to work as a team. Please be mindful that although having two interpreters does enable them to work for longer periods without the need for a break, the Deaf person will still require regular eye breaks to avoid eye fatigue. Watching an interpreter for a long period of time can be very straining on the eyes. Also, during breaks, please be considerate and ensure that the interaction stops so no one is excluded.
Be aware if reading material, including slides, are being used during the presentation, the Deaf person will need time to read the material before you resume talking. It is extremely difficult to watch the interpreter and read or write at the same time, and the Deaf person may miss important information. This also applies if the Deaf person needs to take notes. When you ask a question it is helpful to pause for the interpreter to catch up in order to give the Deaf person the opportunity to participate.
The interpreter can only interpret one message at a time. If the interaction is likely to involve many people talking at once, or will be very animated, it may be prudent to appoint a facilitator to ensure people take turns when talking.
Accuracy of interpreting is improved when an interpreter has prior understanding of the situation or communication they will be interpreting. For this reason, interpreters may ask consumers for a short briefing about the nature of the situation or for background preparation material, as appropriate. The interpreter may require copies of any written material to be used during the interaction, two days prior to the assignment, i.e.; PowerPoint presentation, minutes, lecture notes, etc. An interpreter will usually arrive 15 minutes before the start of an assignment. This is in order to meet the Deaf individual to establish their preferred mode of communication, to clarify any vocabulary unique to the situation, and to meet the service provider to gain extra information about the content of the assignment.
A detailed guide to working with NZSL interpreters was produced by SLIANZ and the Office for Disability Issues in 2009. This guide is available from the Office for Disability Issues' website.
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