Using an ASL Interpreter
Utilizing an Interpreter may be a new experience for you. The interpreter is there to ensure all participants involved have equal language access. And please remember, when engaging with a person who is Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and/or Deaf-Blind, it is valuable to treat them as their own person, addressing them directly.
How to Use an ASL Interpreter
*NOTE: For additional direct instruction on How to Use an ASL Interpreter, you can contact the Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing under the Pennsylvania Labor and Industry and the Pennsylvania State Law for Registered Interpreters Act 57 . ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
• Hearing people should look at the Deaf/HOH individual when speaking to them. Refrain from looking and speaking to the interpreter. This may feel awkward at first since the Deaf/HOH individual will need to look at the interpreter during the exchange. You will get used to it.
• Address the deaf person directly:
Using Team Interpreters vs. One Interpreter
ASL Interpreting is a taxing activity, both mentally and physically. Research has shown that an interpreter's ability to process the message and interpret it accurately diminishes after approximately 20 minutes of interpreting. Additionally, sign language interpreters have a high rate of repetitive motion injuries. Therefore, when an assignment is over 1.5-2 hours of continuous interpreting or the demands of the work is more technical and/or physically challenging, a team of two interpreters will be scheduled to ensure that the message is interpreted accurately for the full length of the assignment. Other situations may require a team, such as when there is a deaf presenter involved, or there is a deaf/blind consumer.
For more information on the best practices of working as a team, look to the RID Standard Practice Paper on Team Interpreting.
Using a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI/DI)
A Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) is a Deaf and Hard of Hearing individual who is RID certified. CDIs have natural language skills in American Sign Language, and they have experience with the Deaf community and cultural nuances.
CDIs are needed in challenging and unique interpreting situations, and are utilized when the client may have limited language skills, visual limitations, use a foreign language, use gestures or unfamiliar signs. A CDI is trained in using gestures, mime, props and other tools to assist in communication access. In teaming with a hearing interpreter, they can navigate challenging language barriers.
Deaf Interpreters (DI) are currently working towards RID certification and are in practice in the field of interpreting.
For more information on CDIs and their function in the interpreting process, look to RID Standard Practice Paper on the Use of a Certified Deaf Interpreter.
Interpreting in a Health Care/Medical and Mental Health Setting
Interpreting for Individuals Who are Deaf-Blind
Interpreting in an Educational School Setting
Interpreting for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in Kindergarten through 12th Grade requires specified guidelines and testing regulations that can be found under the Paraprofessional Staff description at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. To work in this capacity in the state of Pennsylvania, an interpreter is required to pass a test called the Educational Interpreting Performance Assessment (EIPA). There are two tests available; Elementary and Secondary. Once one of these tests are passed, the individual has the qualifications to work at the grade levels of the test taken, and must follow the requirements to maintain their EIPA.
Educational Interpreters are bound by their own EIPA Guidelines of Professional Conduct. This Professional Conduct document and all information regarding the EIPA can be found at The Boys Town National Research Hospital - Classroom Interpreting website. For the state of Pennsylvania, you can get all testing information and EIPA state regulations at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) .
The RID Standard Practice Paper also offers more information on an Overview of K-12 Educational Interpreting .
The law of Act 57 in Pennsylvania also qualifies RID Certified interpreters to work in any educational setting.
Interpreting in a Legal Setting
Regulations for interpreting in the court/legal system can be found at the Pennsylvania Labor and Industry website entitled Guidelines for Certified Interpreters Law . The state guidelines indicate that court interpreters are required to be Pennsylvania State Registered and certified through the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC). A specified amount of continuing education hours must be obtained to be in good standing with the AOPC.
A legal setting is not limited to a courtroom setting. It also includes such events as attorney-client meetings, investigations by law enforcement, depositions, witness interviews, real-estate settlements, court-ordered programs, and hearings. For more information about the details of providing highly qualified interpreters for a legal setting, please refer to the RID Standard Practice Interpreting in Legal Settings .