We look at how to sort through your options and choose the best professional American Sign Language Services for your organization.
American Sign Language (ASL) is essential for fluent, accurate, real-time communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Choosing the right provider of professional American sign language services makes a huge difference in everyone’s satisfaction with results.
American sign language interpreters aren’t always easy to find. ASL is a visual language. The complex movements of hands, body, and face are not really something you can learn from a book or online. It has a complex grammar and syntax, and hearing ASL interpreters have to learn a new set of rules of etiquette to interact with deaf people.
And people who use professional American sign language services have a learning curve, too.
Three things you need to know before you hire any professional ASL interpreter
Even when you are using the services of an ASL interpreter, you as a hearing person will have to adjust your style of communication for your conversation with a deaf person to go smoothly. The audio cues for speaking and listening that are second nature in spoken conversations aren’t available to people who are deaf.
And as you know, the social interactions between hearing person, deaf person, and interpreter are complex.
1. Know the recipient
The first thing you need to keep in mind when you are using the services of a professional ASL interpreter is that you are conversing with the deaf person, not the interpreter. The ASL interpreter stands beside you and signs whatever you are saying so the deaf person can follow along. Then interpret converts their responses in sign language back into spoken speech you can understand.
The interpreter isn’t part of the conversation. Listen to the interpreter, but look at the deaf person with whom you are speaking. Staring at the ASL interpreter during the conversation will be considered at best, well, weird, and at worst as a slight of the non-hearing person with whom you are communicating.
2. Maintain eye contact
The second thing you need to keep in mind when you are using the services of a professional sign language interpreter is that you need to maintain eye contact with the deaf person when you are speaking. Your conversation partner can only know when you have finished speaking by observing your face. \
Then they know to be watching the interpreter. If you don’t maintain eye contact while you are speaking, your conversation can get out of sync.
3. Conversational etiquette always applies
The final thing you need to keep in mind when you are conversing with a deaf or hard of hearing person with the help of an interpreter is that these rules are even more important when your interpreter is not physically present with you. ASL interpretation is often done over Skype or with a smartphone.
Your deaf counterpart has to pay even more attention to the screen than to an interpreter who is present with you, so the rules of conversational etiquette are even more important.
These three rules are key to your success in using the services of any professional American sign language services provider. It also helps to know some basic facts about ASL.
What to know about American sign language
ASL isn’t a universal sign language
There are about 70 sign languages around the world. If you are dealing with deaf or hard of hearing persons from outside the USA, you will need to contract them through an agency with international experience.
ASL isn’t English
ASL does not use English-language word order.
Lip reading isn’t an effective means of communication
If you aren’t able to provide ASL interpretation, your deaf counterparts will miss about 50% of what you are trying to communicate. Scientists have found that even high-speed artificial intelligence programs can’t keep up with spontaneous speech.
Facial expressions are essential in ASL
Exaggerated facial expressions have meanings in sign language that they do not in spoken communication. You should not try to emulate them.
ASL interpretation is a profession
It takes years for a hearing person to master ASL, and even more experience to be able to apply ASL in specialized settings.
Now we’ll consider how to find the right interpretation service for your needs.
What should you look for in professional ASL services?
If you were to guess what might be the most important quality in an ASL interpreter, what would it be?
Here’s are several qualities to look for in American sign language services:
Your interpreter doesn’t have time to look for a dictionary in the middle of your conversation. Your ASL interpreter needs to be fluent in the vocabulary and terminology of the topics you’ll be discussing with your deaf and hard of hearing counterparts.
When you are discussing a topic with lots of technical terms, such as a lawsuit, a surgical procedure, or a technical topic, scientific studies show that your interpreter will naturally slow down unless they are familiar with the signs. It’s just about half a second per word, but that can make the overall flow of communication a lot slower to everybody’s frustration.
That’s not an ideal situation when both you and your deaf counterpart are familiar with the topic you are discussing.
An interpreter can be superbly qualified and still not the best professional for your situation. That’s why it’s best to hire your interpreters from professional American sign language service agencies who have multiple interpreters with different specialties and different kinds of experience.
It’s best to choose an agency that has many other clients like you with whom they have depth of experience. Or you need to choose an agency that has so many interpreters, preferably in multiple languages, not just English and ASL. You need an agency that can be sure they can meet your needs because they have met the needs of thousands of other individuals and businesses needing ASL interpretation.
We are your one-stop provider for professional American sign language services.
Accurate Communication is your provider of choice for ASL interpretation. We offer interpretation in person or through video. We can also interpret for conferences and seminars, and are familiar with ASL interpretation in government, news conference, legal, medical, and social service settings.
Accurate Communication handles diverse, complex, and important situations that require the best linguists and interpreters from around the world. We have had the opportunity to hire the best interpreters in the country.
Whether you engage our services for 10 minutes, 10 days, or 10 years, you can be assured that we will treat every encounter as deserving the best service we can provide. We approach every client with respect, dignity, and understanding.
Accurate Communication has the experience you can trust. Call our US East Coast offices at (646) 873-4000 or our US West Coast offices at (310) 401-3998. We can also be reached through Info@AccurateCommunication.net.