Angela's Corner - Sign Language Interpreter
American Sign Language
ASL is a visual-spatial language that is conveyed through facial expressions, body movements and the shape, placement and movement of the hands. ASL is a complete language with its own rules of grammar and syntax. ASL is the primary sign language used in English speaking North America. American Sign Language is not universal.
It is important to note that not all Deaf and hard-of-hearing people use ASL. Some communicate using a combination of ASL signs and English signs; others communicate using home signs, which are unique to a particular family; others use a foreign sign language; and others may not use sign language at all.
Sign Language Interpreter
An ASL interpreter takes the meaning from one language and renders it into the appropriate grammatical structure and cultural framework of another language and vice versa.
Unlike spoken languages, this process is done simultaneously.
A Deaf Interpreter is a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing and has been trained as an interpreter. They are fluent in both English and ASL and can provide cultural and linguistic expertise. As a native signer, a DI can identify subtleties and nuances in a Deaf person’s communication, particularly for those who didn’t grow up learning ASL. Most often a DI and a hearing ASL interpreter will work together.
Code of Ethics
The Canadian Association of Sign Language Interpreters (CASLI) is the only national association representing sign language interpreters in Canada. All members of CASLI will have graduated from a recognized ASL-English Interpreter Education Program. CASLI members are obligated to abide by CASLI’s Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Professional Conduct. Although membership is not mandatory to work in Canada, it is often a condition of employment.
The Deaf, the deafened, and the hard of hearing are all very distinct groups. Using the proper terminology shows respect for their differences.
A medical/audiological term referring to those people who have little or no functional hearing (deaf, Deaf, and deafened). May also be used as a collective noun (“the deaf” or “small-d deaf”) to refer to people who are medically deaf but who do not necessarily identify with the Deaf community. In addition, children who are deaf are usually referred to as “deaf” because they may not yet have been socialized into either the Deaf or the non-Deaf culture. If they use Sign as their first language, they are referred to “Deaf”.
A sociological term referring to those individuals who are medically deaf or hard of hearing who identify with and participate in the culture, society, and language of Deaf people, which is based on Sign language. Their preferred mode of communication is Sign.
Used as a collective noun to refer to both those “Deaf” people who identify with the Deaf culture and those “deaf” people who do not.
(Also known as late-deafened.) This is both a medical and a sociological term referring to individuals who have become deaf later in life and who may not be able to identify with either the Deaf or the hard of hearing communities.
hard of hearing
A person whose hearing loss ranges from mild to profound and whose usual means of communication is speech. It is both a medical and a sociological term.
This term is not acceptable in referring to people with a hearing loss. “Hearing impairment” is a medical condition; it is not a collective noun for people who have varying degrees of hearing loss. It also fails to recognize the differences between the Deaf and the hard of hearing communities.
person who is deaf
Acceptable but overly sensitive substitute for “deaf”.
manual deaf, Signing deaf
A deaf person whose preferred mode of communication is Sign language.
A deaf person whose preferred mode of communication is verbal and auditory. An oral deaf person who can both Sign and speak can be considered “Deaf” if he/she is accepted as such by other Deaf persons and uses Sign within the Deaf community.
Unacceptable. A deaf person may choose not to use his/her voice; this does not make him/her a “mute”.
deaf and dumb
Although it has been used for many years to refer to people who have disabilities in addition to deafness, the preferred terms now are “Deaf with mental disabilities”, “Deaf-blind”, “Deaf with CP”, etc.
Term used to distinguish between the Deaf community and all other people including hearing, hard of hearing, deafened, and oral deaf.
Terminology. Canadian Association of the Deaf - Association des Sourds du Canada. (2022, February 10). https://cad-asc.ca/our-work/terminology/
Is the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.
Humphries, T. (1977). Communicating Across Cultures (Deaf/Hearing) and Language Learning [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Union Graduate School, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Accessible meeting guidelines using a Sign Language Interpreter
Whether you’re working with an Interpreter for the first time, or the twentieth time, these resources contain information that will be helpful in preparing for your event or meeting.
Booking an Interpreter:
- Contact the staff interpreter with the date, time, location of the meeting, purpose and names of invitees
- Depending on the type of meeting, and the length of time, more than one interpreter may be required. The King’s Interpreter will make the decision based on the meeting details while being fiscally responsible to the University.
During the meeting:
It is often difficult for Deaf people to actively participate in group discussions because they are not sure when speakers have finished talking.
Following these guidelines will ensure full accessibility for everyone.
- Assign someone to keep a speakers list.
- Permit only one person to speak at a time.
- Give the Interpreter time to finish before going on to the next speaker. The Interpreter is always a few sentences behind the speaker.
- When referring to content on paper or on screen, pause and give the Deaf person the chance to find and read the information before resuming discussion.
- Schedule breaks during the meeting. Following Sign Language for a long time is tiring for the Deaf person and for the Interpreter.
Preparation materials needed by the Interpreter:
- Meeting agenda and applicable meeting documents
- Previous meeting minutes
- Presentation outline
- PowerPoint slides
- Handouts for those in attendance
- Visual and audio materials (videos, YouTube clips, voice-over recordings etc.) are the videos captioned?
By providing preparation materials to the Interpreter(s) as far in advance as possible, allows the Interpreter(s) time to research concepts, learn specific terminology and understand the context in which the members of the meeting are already familiar with.
All preparation material shared with the Interpreter(s) will only be used to prepare for the specific meeting and not shared with anyone, including the meeting participants. Interpreters working for King’s University College are Active members of the Canadian Association of Sign Language Interpreters (CASLI) and are bound by their Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Professional Conduct.