Written by Linda Alexander
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Translators of American Sign Language into spoken English are also known as interpreters, or 'terps. They are not merely translating one language to another, but are facilitating communication between deaf and hearing people. Consider it an interpretation not just of language, but also of culture.

Using Translators at Events

If you hold an event where a deaf audience member has requested an interpreter, you will need to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide one. Such translators can be found through interpreter agencies, deaf services agencies, or local community services that provide services for the deaf and hard of hearing. Many organizations of the deaf also offer referrals to translators/interpreters.

When speaking with deaf people, remember to address them directly. Even when you are on the phone through a TTY or relay operator, you aren't speaking to the interpreter or operator--you're having a conversation with a deaf person. It's important, when speaking in person, to be sure that you can see each other clearly. Deaf people read facial expressions and lips as well as signs.

Interpreters can only convey one message at a time. Keep this in mind when holding a conversation with a deaf person. Try not to change subjects too quickly or send multiple messages at once. Though ASL is a complete, complex language, it does take time for the interpreter to sign, for the deaf person to reply, and for the interpreter to speak back to you.

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