Posted by: learnsignlanguage | May 28, 2010

How Deaf Awareness makes a difference when interpreting

I had an interpreting job today for a medical appointment with regards to a claim for benefits.

As an interpreter it is important to have information about the booking prior to going in order for me to prepare appropriate vocabulary. This doesn’t happen all of the time but makes a difference when it does.

When in a booking it makes a huge difference in the smooth running of an assignment if the hearing participant..the doctor in this case…has deaf awareness.

What do I mean? Well when I got there the doctor straight away spoke directly to the client and not to me as an interpreter. He didn’t say ” Can you say hello to Mrs X” for example.

He also realised immediately that I would need to pull the chair around so that I could sit opposite the Deaf client next to him in order for her to see both the doctor and myself simultaneously.

This is important so that the Deaf client can pick up other non verbal communication/body language from the doctor and so it is easy to see both of us.

The doctor didn’t mind if I as an interpreter asked him to rephrase certain things because they were quite abstract and so instead he gave examples of situations that he was asking about (obviously I can’t go into detail here because of the confidentiality agreement that I have to abide by as a qualified MRSLI interpreter…which safe guards all parties involved)

There were other simple actions that made a difference today which showed to me that the doctor had deaf awareness and I didn’t have to interrupt or ask for. For example the deaf client needed to get something from her bag and so was not able to continue looking at me. The doctor could see this and so stopped talking whilst she did this…..a small issue I know but it makes a huge difference!

The doctor also summarised at the end to make sure that all communication was clear and had been understood.

Overall a very positive experience!

For more information on Deaf Awareness please visit


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