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Tips for talking through an interpreter

BE EFFECTIVE WHEN COMMUNICATING THROUGH SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETATION

THE FOLLOWING TAKES ABOUT 60 SECONDS TO READ BUT CAN GREATLY INCREASE THE BENEFITS TO EVERYONE ENGAGED IN INTERPRETED DISCOURSE.  PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO READ.

  1. At CSL Studies Interpreters are bound by a code of ethics which stipulates confidentiality.  You may be confident that our team of experienced professionals are ever vigilant in their care of sensitive information, and documentation is treated with respect.  Interpreters may not utilise privileged information for personal gain.
  2. Interpreters prepare in advance of attending assignments.  Provide as much background information as possible to the interpreter before the event. Records, speeches, slide shows, overheads, power-points, text books…etc.
  3. Deal with your enquires of the interpreter’s training, or sign language classes at another time, not while the interpreter is present to interpret.  It infringes boundaries and detracts from the interpreter remaining in ‘role’.  It can leave the deaf person sidelined.
  4. Talk directly to the Deaf person i.e. “What is your name?”…. rather than say to the interpreter “Ask him/her what his/her name is”.
  5. Be aware there may be a few (or several) seconds lag time between what is being said or signed and the interpreters’ translation. This is due to processing between languages.
  6. Maintain eye contact with the Deaf person rather than the interpreter.
  7. If using handouts/overheads/slides… etc. be aware that the Deaf person cannot read and listen at the same time so allow an extra time in such circumstances (watch for the Deaf person’s attention also if ad-libbing).
  8. If possible allow/arrange a pre-meeting 15-30 minutes before the event for the interpreter and client/s. This allows the client/s and interpreter become familiar with each other.
  9. When speaking be aware of your pace not too fast or too slow. Normal paced speech is ideal. If reading from text a slightly slower pace is better, also be aware to pause for punctuation to maintain cohesion.
  10. Allow for breaks.  Interpreting takes intense concentration and breaks are recommended.  Interpreters will advise but as a general rule of thumb 50 minutes interpreting followed by 10 minute break is a good guide.
  11. For long, interactive or detailed events 2 or more interpreters may be needed.

(Conroy 2007, adapted from an original by Gilligan, 2005)