JESS PETTITT, CSP, has
spoken to a wide variety
of audiences for more than
15 years and loves to invite
people to be Good Enough
To find the best ways for speakers to work with American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, we talked with CM Hall, a nationally certified sign language interpreter
and the co-director of the DeafBlind Interpreting National
Training and Resource Center.
ASL interpreters are paid, nationally credentialed professionals who work to effectively, accurately, and impartially convey
messages through a complex simultaneous process that requires
a high degree of linguistic, cognitive, and technical skill in English
When collaborating with ASL interpreters for deaf, hard of
hearing, and Deaf Blind audience members, there are a few simple
tips to make the material more accessible and culturally considerate and to make your session more successful.
SEND MATERIALS IN ADVANCE. Give interpreters your content, presentation notes, and slides as early as possible. This gives
them enough time to prepare for transitions, specific jargon or
language, and upcoming laugh lines or humor. Even if you are
making last-minute changes, providing a draft copy for the interpreters will make it easier for them to do their work.
Working with interpreters onstage and off
BY JESS PETTITT, CSP
ASL on the
TRUST INTERPRETERS AND LET THEM
DO THEIR JOB. Interpreters are professionals and will know where to position themselves for sight-line considerations. It will
most likely be in proximity to you and onstage
for ease of following any visual materials or
MAKE SURE THE AV TEAM IS IN THE
LOOP. Interpreters will need to be considered in lighting decisions. If the lights go
down when a video is shown, the interpreter
still needs to be lit. Depending on the venue,
a small monitor may be required for the interpreter to hear.
DO YOUR JOB AS THE PRESENTER.
Connect with the interpreter before your
program. If there is a microphone, use it. If
you are using video or visual media, alert the
interpreter and make sure it is accurately
captioned. When conversing with a deaf person, be sure to make eye contact and speak
directly to them. Never use an interpreter as
a prop or an example.
BE A GOOD EVENT HOST. If you are planning your own event, ask participants for
their audio/visual needs or accommodations
in advance. Host an orientation for interpreters before the event to review the flow.
Lastly, do your own research to make sure
your event is accessible to all by reaching out
to professional organizations that work with
interpreting and equal access. ■
■ Designing accessible events
for people with disabilities
and deaf people, Center on
Victimization and Safety, Vera
Institute of Justice:
■ Registry of Interpreters for
the Deaf (RID): rid.org
■ CM Hall’s TEDx Talk on
linguistic access titled “Social
Justice … In a Cookie” can be
found at bit.ly/2QOfru5.