Both deaf and hearing people use interpreters to help communication between them. Here is a list of useful points to remember when working with a BSL interpreter:
The Interpreter’s Role
The main role of an interpreter is to pass messages from people using BSL into English and vice versa. Interpreters use their skill and knowledge of two different languages and cultures to receive a message given in one language and pass it on in the other language.
Sometimes an interpreter may need to interrupt the person speaking or signing to ask them to repeat or explain what they mean, to make it easier to interpret.
The Interpreting Process
Sign language interpreters may look very active with their hands, but in actual fact most of the hard work is going on in their heads. They have to listen carefully, watch for the message, extract the meaning and then find an appropriate way to express this in the second language.
As with any other interpreted language, every English word doesn’t necessarily have a corresponding sign in BSL and each language has its own grammatical structure. The interpreting process involves expressing the same meaning using a different vocabulary and grammatical structure.
Only ONE message can be interpreted at a time. Therefore, in a meeting it is important that only one person speaks or signs at a time. Otherwise the interpreter may have to stop and request that people speak in turn. Interpreting requires intense concentration and can be very tiring. At top speed interpreters may be processing up to 20,000 words per hour. The recommended time for interpreting is 20 minutes. Interpreters can work longer than this, but over long periods the quality of the interpretation will suffer. For meetings and events longer than 2 hours at least two interpreters are necessary. The mental processing takes time and there will be a delay as the message passes from one language to another.
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