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Request an Interpreter Emergency: How to get an Interpreter when VIRS is closed

In this Section:


The Role of the Interpreter

  • Facilitate communication between hearing and Deaf or hard of hearing people.
  • Interpret the message accurately.
  • Convey the feelings of the speaker.
  • Maintain impartiality and confidentiality.

How to Work Effectively with an Interpreter


  • Meeting with the interpreter fifteen to thirty minutes before the assignment can be helpful.
  • Outlines, scripts, notes, copies of speeches, or other materials should be sent in advance to help the interpreter prepare for the assignment.
  • The interpreter will assist you in determining effective placement of the interpreter.
  • Be sure there is adequate lighting and appropriate backdrops for the interpreter to be seen.
  • Anticipate that breaks will be needed. Interpreting and watching Sign Language continuously is tiring. Allow for at least a 5 or 10 minute break every hour. Some lengthy assignments will require two interpreters who will work as a team at approximately 20 - 30 minute intervals to insure the quality of services provided. Because both members of a team are responsible for the entire interpretation, guidelines for breaks listed above are still applicable.

During the assignment

  • Establish rapport by looking at or talking directly to the Deaf or hard of hearing person. It will help make your message clear if you speak in the “first person”.
  • Speak at a normal rate, but be aware that there will be a slight delay due to the interpreting process.
  • When reading from a printed text, take care to speak at a normal conversational pace. (Research has shown that the pace while reading aloud is double or triple that of normal conversation.)
  • Allow extra time for Deaf and hard of hearing participants to scan visual aides before speaking again.
  • In group settings speak in turn, one person at a time.
  • The interpreter will not participate in any discussions or activities during the assignment.

After the assignment

  • Any questions directed to the interpreter should be discussed prior to or following the assignment if at all possible instead of while the interpreter is working.
  • We welcome feedback from consumers regarding services provided. For your convenience, use our online evaluation form.
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