USING A SOUTH AFRICAN SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER
All people deserve full access to their environment.
Equal access for Deaf people is guaranteed by the Constitution of South Africa. One component of providing accessibility to a Deaf person will be to hire a qualified and professional South African Sign Language interpreter.
WHAT SOUTH AFRICAN SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETING IS…
Facilitation of communication between any of the 11 official languages in South African and South African Sign Language.
The primary language used to communicate in South African government and business is spoken English. Deaf people in South Africa use South African Sign Language to receive information and to communicate. Without a mediator to decode these conflicting auditory-based and visually based languages, communication is not accessible.
The SASL interpreter use their SASL skills and spoken English (or any other official spoken language in South Africa) skills to bridge the communication gap. The information that the SASL interpreter hears in the spoken language is conveyed to the Deaf person in SASL. The information expressed by the Deaf person in SASL is conveyed to the hearing people present in the spoken language that they prefer. This process ensures that each participant can access the information.
WHAT SOUTH AFRICAN SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER IS NOT…
An advisor to any of the parties involved.
An expert on matters of deafness
Necessarily know what Deaf people think and feel
Spokespersons of the Deaf community
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON UTILIZING THE SASL INTERPRETER TO THE MAXIMUM…
Professional boundaries must be clearly defined for the SASL interpreter to function appropriately.
The SASL interpreter has been trained to bridge communication using SASL, spoken language/s, cultural mediation and knowledge about accessibility.
Professional interpreters follow a strict code of ethics (as approved by SATI and DeafSA)
SASL interpreters must understand their role as that of facilitators of communication only.
All interpreted information is kept confidential.
The SASL interpreter is always neutral and cannot interfere, advise, or interject personal opinions in interpreted situations.
SASL interpreters are professionals and must conduct themselves appropriately. They must always maintain a professional distance between themselves and clients.
There is no such thing as too much information.
SASL interpreters must clearly understand what they are hearing and seeing to accurately interpret information. Working with the interpreter to prepare, will help the consumer to benefit from a deeply processed interpretation. Summaries of upcoming discussions, key vocabulary, videos, and special events can give the interpreter the necessary background knowledge to interpret new facts and concepts to the consumers of the interpretation services. Preparation also allows an interpreter to do his own research on the given topic.
THE NEED TO REST…
SASL interpreting is physically, psychologically, and mentally draining. The ideal amount of time for one SASL interpreter to provide uninterrupted services is 30 – 40 minutes. At this point, the SASL interpreter should switch with a second SASL interpreter or take a break of at least five minutes. Taking the steps to rest periodically allows the interpreter to provide a more accurate and higher quality service.
ACCESSING THE ACCESS…
SASL interpreting is a method of providing accessibility, but there are many other considerations.
Deaf people rely on their vision to communicate and learn. Whether the Deaf person is expected to watch an interpreter, an experiment, a video tape, written examples, a demonstration, or information on a handout – all messages are gathered visually.
THEREFORE, IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS ARE:
One message at a time – if you expect the Deaf person to understand more than one message at a time, missed information is unavoidable. The most effective presentation strategy is to use sequenced actions instead of simultaneous actions. This may be accomplished by:
- Using a multi-step approach – as separate steps, verbally describe a concept, then show the concept with objects or writing. After the demonstration, review the concept again. This allows the Deaf person to see all the messages that hearing people hear and observe (as opposed to showing a concept while talking about it at the same time, causing the Deaf person to miss valuable information.)
- Speaking one at a time during discussions – this gives the Deaf person (and the SASL interpreter) a clear understanding of the discussion content. With a clear turn-taking process, the Deaf person is given more opportunity to join the discussion.
- Using closed captioning during videos – captioning (subtitles) allows the Deaf person to follow the action of the movie while still being able to read the words being spoken.
- Lag time – SASL interpreting does not happen instantly. The SASL interpreter must hear, understand, and produce each thought or concept using several seconds of processing time. A SASL interpreter may have to wait about 3 to 5 seconds before starting to interpret the information.
- Line-of-sight – the Deaf person should be able to see all important visual messages (the SASL interpreter, speaker, other participants, overhead slides)
- Adequate lighting – In order to receive visual messages, the Deaf person must have enough light to see clearly.
- Other considerations – Every Deaf consumer is different. Individual needs must be evaluated before deciding what creates an accessible environment for each Deaf person.