Using an Interpreter

Finding an interpreter

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires many private companies and public services in the United States to provide interpreters upon request for Deaf or Hard of Hearing individuals. To find an interpreter, you could contact the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). You could also start your search by contacting Signing Resources & Interpreters for interpreting services in Oregon and Washington or by searching on the Internet.


Speak slowly and clearly enough for the interpreter to hear you. Use short, concise statements rather than long, run-on sentences. Avoid using jargon or colloquial speech, which is difficult to translate. Remember that the interpreter is going to lag a few seconds behind you; thus, the reaction of the person or persons you're talking to will as well.

Address the person or persons you're talking to directly. Don't say things to the interpreter like, "Tell them I think that's a good idea," or "Can you ask her when we should go?" Remember you are conversing with the deaf person, not the interpreter.

One on One Conversation

Remember that in most cases, shouting will not only fail to enable the deaf person to hear you any better, but also make the interpreter wish he or she was deaf.

When you speak, look at the deaf person whom are you addressing, not the interpreter. When the interpreter relays to you what the deaf person has signed, continue to look at the person with whom you are conversing, not the interpreter. Remember that in order to understand what you say, the deaf person will have to look at the interpreter in order see what they are signing.

Speaking to an Audience

Wait until you have the attention of all of the people before proceeding to deliver your address or announcement. Because you cannot get the attention of the deaf people present by shouting or using a microphone, you must use some other means to make sure they are looking at the interpreter before you proceed to speak. This may take a moment longer than getting the attention of a hearing group, so please be patient. One of the most common and efficient ways to do so is to flash the lights on and off a few times, if possible.


© 1999 - 2024 F. C. Stamps, M.Ed.