Deaf Blind Interpreting

Written by Linda Alexander
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Deaf blind interpreting is a field that is growing in demand. People may be deaf blind for several reasons and each individual has varying degrees of vision and hearing. Therefore, in a deaf blind situation, it is important for the interpreter to have information ahead of time as to how the deaf blind person or people want to communicate.

Deaf blind interpreting requires a different communication style than interpreting for the deaf. For example, you might have to sign in front of the person's face, or use tactile interpreting on the person's hand, depending on their degree of vision loss. People with tunnel vision, for example, can usually understand signs if the overhead lighting is sufficient. People with close vision might require the interpreter to sit close to them and sign; however, the lighting and the interpreter's clothing colors must also be right.

The Importance of Touch and Smell with Deaf Blind Interpreting

Another thing to keep in mind with deaf blind interpreting is that people without their sense of hearing and vision may depend more on smells and touching. Therefore, strong scents such as cigarettes may bother them (they bother me and I can see and hear clearly). Keeping your hands clean for tactile interpreting and keep your breath smelling fresh !

Finally, as a courtesy to the deaf blind, when interpreting, let them know how many people are present, their races and gender, and the layout as far as where everyone is sitting or standing. This is information that you would want to know too, in order to give you a clearer understanding of your location. Ask the person ahead of time what they need in terms of language, lighting, seating, and accessibility to forms and presentation materials.

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