FAQ

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Why are two interpreters required for my event?

There are a multitude of reasons that two interpreters may be needed in order to provide services for an event. The most commonly cited explanation is that for assignments two hours or longer, two interpreters are needed because one must relieve the other at regular intervals in order to avoid fatigue and physical strain. While this is certainly accurate, it is not the only situation in which two interpreters are needed.

Situations with a plethora of participants who may need services simultaneously are also a perfect example of the necessity for two (or more interpreters). Two monolingual consumers attending a lecture may want to separate to interact with other attendees or presenters either before, after, or during the event. In this instance, one interpreter would not be sufficient to provide those services.

High risk or otherwise stressful scenarios also necessitate two interpreters, not only for the purposes of mitigating fatigue but also to monitor the quality of the interpreting product. When someone's life, liberty, or well being are at stake, two (or more) interpreters are always warranted.

For more information about team interpreting, see the RID Standard Practice Paper


What is a CDI and why is one required for my event?

A CDI (Certified Deaf Interpreter), also sometimes referred to simply as a Deaf Interpreter, is a language specialist often called in to collaborate on an interpretation. In the same way that spoken language translators benefit from having native speakers on an interpreting team (e.g. Who better to understand French than a Frenchman?), there are a multitude of benefits to having a native ASL signer as part of the interpreting team.

Beyond linguistic benefits, CDI's relate to Deaf consumers at a cultural level in ways that cannot be paralleled by hearing interpreters. In situations where linguistic competence or comprehension is not guaranteed, a CDI can be instrumental in helping to facilitate communication.


Is sign language universal?

The sign languages of the world behave in the same way as spoken languages in terms of mutual intelligibility. Many countries or other areas of the world have their own discrete sign languages, while others have evolved from the same root language and maintain some similarities. The sign language of a country also has no necessary relation to the spoken language of that country. As a good example, consider American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL) and Langue Signe de France (LSF). Despite the fact that America and Britain both speak English, BSL and ASL are mutually unintelligible; that is, signers of one cannot understand signers of the other. Despite the fact that America and France have different spoken languages, ASL was influenced early on in its development by LSF, and so there are many commonalities. Although they are not considered mutually intelligible, there are common systems and roots at work in both languages.


What does NIC Advanced mean?

The National Interpreter Certification (NIC) is a standardized test for ASL-English Interpreters, developed by both The National Association for the Deaf (NAD) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). The test is comprised of a multiple choice written test, live interpreting from a standard set of scenarios on DVD, and responses to a number of ethical situations (also on DVD). The results of the test are translated into one of three ratings, NIC, NIC Advanced, or NIC Master. For more detailed information about the test procedure and the three rating levels, please see the RID Testing and Certification site


Why do I need an interpreter; don't Deaf people read lips?

Lipreading, or as it is now referred to, "speechreading", is a technique employed by many Deaf or hard of hearing people when working with people speaking to them. While for some people in one on one interactions speechreading can be an extremely effective tool, there are a variety of factors that can quickly reduce its accuracy.

First, speechreading requires a good view of the speaker's face; when lighting conditions are not ideal or there are multiple parties involved in the conversation, it can be difficult to determine who is speaking when, much less what they are saying. Even in ideal situations, speechreading English is fraught with difficulty. Voiced and unvoiced pairs are indistinguishable based on sight alone, as the only difference is the addition of voice. For example, the sounds of P as in "pat" and B as in "bat" look the same on the mouth.

While some people do employ speechreading regularly as a communication tool, often this needs to be supplemented with interpretation or other communication accommodations. For more detailed information about speechreading, see Speechreading: a way to improve understanding By Harriet Kaplan, Scott J. Bally, Carol Garretson.


Should I say Deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing impaired?

While there are some general rules about which term to use, it is best to ask the person with the hearing loss what their preference would be.

That being said, Deaf is often used to refer to people who communicate primarily in American Sign Language, and consider themselves part of the Deaf community. Hard of hearing refers to those who consider themselves part of the Deaf community, but have enough residual hearing or speech skills that they can often communicate directly with hearing people.

Hearing impaired is most often used to refer to those who lost their hearing later in life, and have retained most their speech skills and/or hearing. This term is not often used to refer to those who feel a connection to ASL or the Deaf community.