Working with a BSL Interpreter 2018-02-01T15:02:48+00:00

You will be working with a BSL Interpreter
Not sure what to do?
It’s easy….
Here are some pointers to make it a positive experience for everyone.

BSL is a visual language and uses context based vocabulary, therefore a quality service is reliant on you providing as much information as possible with sufficient time for the interpreter to adequately prepare well in advance of the event.

BSL interpreters are scarce and very busy therefore we request you conduct the assignment timeously and check that sufficient time has been booked to accommodate the interpretation process. Please read the following guidelines

Before the assignment

As soon as the interpreter has been confirmed, forward preparation material e.g. Aims & objectives of the assignment, draft presentations, booklets, minutes, PowerPoints especially any video clips that do not have suitable on screen support. Arrange a briefing if you can.

At the assignment

Please discuss with the BSL interpreter: – their positioning, lighting, user requirements, they are best placed to advise and negotiate a suitable outcome for everyone.

  • Expect the BSL interpreter to clarify their role, this will help communication flow more naturally.
  • BSL Interpreters usually work simultaneously; you are not required to wait for them.
  • Speak directly to the Deaf person at your normal pace
  • Refrain from saying ‘tell him’, ‘ask her’ etc.
  • Please allow extra time; it takes longer to talk through an interpreter.
  • Only one person at a time can communicate through the interpreter, so in discussions and meetings only one person should speak at a time. Try to
    remember this and adjust the conversation where possible.
  • Turn-taking works differently. The interpreter will need to finish before the deaf person can respond.
    Please allow time for this to happen especially in meetings with several participants as there may be insufficient time to allow the Deaf person to participate equally in the dialogue.
  • The interpreter may request clarification of terminology, concepts etc. This is quite normal but occurs more frequently if the interpreter is
    insufficiently briefed.
  • Try not to look at the interpreter and don’t worry if the Deaf person does not keep eye contact with you, they are watching a visual language.
  • Remember the interpreter is not a support worker or advocate for the Deaf person. They are impartial and work for both parties and that everything seen or overheard will be interpreted, even asides!
  • The working environment is important. The interpreter needs to hear the speaker and see/be seen clearly. Position the interpreter opposite the
    Deaf person as close to the main speaker as possible. Try to ensure plain uncluttered backgrounds, good lighting and minimal background noise.
  • Offer breaks at suitable junctures approximately every 20 minutes as interpreting/watching BSL is mentally and physically demanding, in the interests of the physical health and wellbeing of the Interpreter and user and to comply with Health & Safety recommendations, please ensure you book sufficient time to factor in breaks.
  • To accommodate the above, it is advisable to appoint a time keeper. In meetings this is often the chairperson.

BSL Interpreters transmit the message in a thorough and faithful manner, giving consideration to linguistic variations in both languages and conveying the tone and meaning of the original message.

A word for word interpretation will not convey the intended idea. The interpreter must determine the relevant concept and reconstruct it in language that is readily understandable and culturally appropriate to both parties.

The interpreter will make every effort to assure that both parties have full, equivalent access to the dialogue.