Sign Language Interpreting Services

sign language interpreters sign to a group of students sitting outside


SAS employs three full-time staff interpreters, two adjunct interpreters, a graduate assistant and part-time interpreters that collectively have NAD/RID certification and years of experience in K-12, post-secondary, Video Remote Interpreting, community, business, high-profile, and platform venues.

What does an interpreter do? 

Interpreters are professionals who facilitate communication between people who are deaf or hard of hearing and people who can hear in a variety of settings. The role of an interpreter is similar to a foreign language interpreter: to bridge the communication gap between two parties. The process is complex and requires linguistic, cognitive and technical skills in both English and American Sign Language (ASL). The interpreter identifies intended meaning or sense of the speaker’s discourse and reformulates it in the target language (Seleskovitch, 1989). The interpreter works with language and partakes in a form of translation in which a first and final target language message is produced on the basis of a one-time presentation of a source language message (Pöchhacker, 2004).  An interpreter works with at least two languages and cultures and needs to have an excellent command of both (Pöchhacker, 2009).

The National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf is the national interpreting organization and requires interpreters to adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct. Additionally, they are expected to stay current in the field and maintain certification through continuing education opportunities.

How to work with ASL Interpreters

  • The interpreter is typically seated or standing in front of the room, opposite the deaf consumer. The interpreter will try to maintain a position that will allow the consumer to have a view of both the speaker/instructor and the interpreter at all times.  
  • Your normal rate of speech is acceptable and preferred.  
  • Gain the deaf person's attention by waving or lightly tapping on the shoulder/back.
  • When communicating, maintain eye contact with the individual, not the interpreter, and address him/her directly. Avoid saying "tell him/her" to the interpreter.
  • There will be a few seconds "lag time" between your spoken message and its interpretation into sign language. Give the deaf person time to respond if there is a question.  
  • The interpreter will interpret environmental noises and may, at times, interpret overheard conversations before and after the assignment.
  • If the room needs to be darkened, be aware that the consumer must be able to see the interpreter in order to access the information presented in an auditory format. Please adjust the lighting so that the interpreter can be seen. 

References: RID Professional Sign Language Interpreting Standard Practice paper