ASL Interpretation Services
As the world around us continues to move toward video-based online conferencing, American Sign Language (or ASL interpretation) services are quickly becoming a crucial communication tool for businesses, government agencies, organizations, institutions, training environments, and court legal systems, as well as the vast worlds of merchandizing and entertainment. Although the role of simultaneous interpretation is straightforward, the complexities of visual interpreting to facilitate accurate communication between deaf participants and those who are not hearing impaired is never a simple task. While simultaneous interpretation involves translating messages spoken in one language into another language, sign language interpretation requires the communication of spoken words into the appropriate signs and gestures for optimal understanding by deaf individuals. Sign language interpreters are highly skilled professionals who must be fluent in two or more languages with a broad-based understanding of signing the cultural nuances of what is being said.
Common Applications for ASL Interpreters
The role of a sign language interpreter is to facilitate the communication between someone using a spoken language, such as English, and people who use a signed language, like ASL, to ensure a complete and accurate delivery. Special applications for ASL interpretations include:
- Business Event Sign Language Interpreter
A signer is anyone who can communicate conversationally with deaf persons, but signers are not interpreters. Business sign language interpreters are trained to function in complex settings, using sign language at a different pace with differing content and cultural meanings.
- Video Remote Sign Language Interpreting
Technology has created a growing need for video remote sign language interpreting. Web cameras and smartphones have expanded the need for video-based telecommunication services to communicate with deaf or persons with impaired hearing disabilities more effectively.
- Legal ASL Interpreters
Most court systems and legal proceedings today require equal access to deaf individuals in a variety of legal settings. Legal ASL interpreters ensure legal rights are thoroughly explained and understood from the attorney’s office through any court proceedings including arbitrations.
- Medical Sign Language Interpreting
Some of the most technically specific requirements for American Sign Language interpretation services are provided by medical sign language interpreters. Care facilities and hospitals often need expert sign language interpreting to assist with a broad range of communications.
Deaf employees, patrons, and attendees have the right to represent themselves and expect sign language interpreters to develop the skills and do the preparation work needed to achieve the highest levels of equality in order to realize the most productive communications to both sides.
Listen and Sign versus Watch and Speak
American Sign Language interpreting* requires more than replacing a word spoken in English with a visual representation. To be proficient at this type of interpreting is a complex task that requires a high level of cognitive, technical, and linguistic skills. When it comes to a swift, accurate transfer of information, there are specific grammatical rules, sentence structures, and cultural cues that must be combined to accommodate any spoken language. Moreover, simultaneous ASL interpreting requires interpreters to listen and sign, or watch and speak, at the same time. He or she must be able to understand the meanings and intentions expressed by the speaker and express those meanings and intentions using signs and gestures. So, it is crucial that a sign language interpreter have the full array of competencies as to manage the flow of communication in real time including an accurate delivery of the cultural nuances of the environment. To mitigate repetitive injuries and interpreter errors from mental and physical fatigue, team interpreting is often recommended for lengthy presentations as well as complex topics involving an overuse of technical terminology and content.
Growth of International Signing for Deaf Communities
With the past decade of globalization, the international exchange between Deaf communities has increased for language interpreters to translate from a foreign spoken language into their national sign language. Typically, sign language interpreters are trained to work between languages with compatible cultures, such as English and American Sign Language. However, the increase in the use of communication technology and a growing need for a faster exchange of information among Western societies has created a significant need for highly skilled sign language interpreters with multilingual communication skill sets. In addition, there are numerous telecommunications relay services that use video-based relay to enable deaf persons and those with hearing disabilities to use American Sign Language to communicate with no typing or text involved. There are, however, many misconceptions that sign language is universal. A global array of sign languages has arisen independently wherever a significant number of deaf people had a need. Each are as distinct and differentiated as a native spoken language, and each can be used to express meanings, feelings, emotions, and cultural influences with an unlimited range of possibilities.
*If you are responsible for conducting multilingual meetings, contact ProLingo to discuss how you can achieve the best results by utilizing our American Sign Language and simultaneous interpretation services for the facilitation of a hearing-impaired intracultural presentation, podcast, conference or event.
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- S. Caprani, Episcopal Church of Central Florida