What is a Sign Language Interpreter? The Role for the Deaf

What is a Sign Language Interpreter?

The deaf child who communicates through sign language is taught how to use a sign language interpreter. Usually, the child’s first experience with an interpreter is in the school setting.

The deaf children will be taught how to use sign language interpreter – image by youtube.com

What is the Role of an Interpreter for the Deaf?

Basically the interpreter serves as the ears and voice of the individual who is hearing impaired. She will listen to what is said and translate the words into sign language. When the deaf person communicates his response or interjection in the conversation, the interpreter will voice what he signs.

Deaf Interpreters
Deaf-interpreter – image by partnerinterpreting.com

In the education setting, a true interpreter will not become involved in the discipline of the child with a hearing loss. That remains the responsibility of the classroom teacher, as it is for the other students. In many instances, a professional will be hired for the role of interpreter/tutor. Such an individual, then, serves in two ways.

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A professional will be hired for the role of interpreter/tutor – image by news.wfsu.com

Even though the professional will at times be tutoring the child or teen in his classes, the interpreter remains in a confidential and unbiased role. It is not the interpreter’s role, for example, to express his opinion about assignments, grades, or other aspects of the student’s education.

What Kind of Training Does an Interpreter Have?

Interpreters receive training in various modes of sign language, as well as in the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct.

The NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct – image by drive.google.com

Interpreter training programs are typically associated with a college or community college and last approximately two years. Upon completion of such a program, the student takes one or more examinations to become a Certified Interpreter for the Deaf.

Do Interpreters Use Different Kinds of Sign Language?

Interpreters use the kind of sign language used by the individual with the hearing loss. If the child or teen communicates in ASL (American Sign Language), the interpreter will sign ASL. If the child or teen communicates in Signed English, the interpreter will do likewise.

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Interpreters use the kind of sign language used by the individual with the hearing loss – image by tidfaf.ca

Who Pays for Interpreters for the Deaf?

If the client is a student, the school district pays for the interpreter. If the client is in a public setting the responsibility of payment often falls on the family. Many public events and organizations, however, provide interpreters as a regular part of their offering.

Public organizations could provide sign language interpreter – image by sundial.csun.edu

Families of children needing interpreter services should contact the organization to see when interpreters are available.

Trained interpreters for the deaf offer a service that brings about independence for the deaf child or teen. It is critical that parents, children, and educators understand the role of this valuable professional.


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