American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are vitally important communication resources for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. However, just because a person knows ASL does not mean that they want to interpret or would even be a particularly effective ASL interpreter. ASL is a language all its own rather than a direct translation of English to signs, which means that someone who interprets ASL needs to be intimately familiar with both languages.

This is just one of the many traits that an effective ASL interpreter should have.

Passion for the Deaf Community and Human Connection

Interpretation can be an intimate experience, depending on the nature of each assignment. Interpreters may assist in a medical setting, on a difficult court case, or in insurance meetings. ASL interpreters are not considered a part of the conversation, but a conduit for two or more individuals to communicate effectively.

An effective ASL interpreter needs to feel passionate about helping two people connect on a stronger level so they can understand each other despite the language barrier. They also need to have deep cultural knowledge and understanding of Deaf culture and how the Deaf community operates to avoid faux pas.

Strong Code of Ethics

As mentioned before, interpreters are often part of intimate and private conversations. The information that they learn in any meetings or assignments should never be divulged to outside sources. Conversations must remain confidential.

Additionally, interpreters who work within the medical field must adhere to HIPAA regulations and privacy laws. Having a strong personal moral or ethical code is an important trait for anyone looking to become an ASL interpreter.

Extensive Vocabulary and Knowledge of a Variety of Fields

Since interpreters may be needed for a wide variety of communication efforts, it is important for them to be well-versed in any number of fields. If, for example, a Deaf cancer patient needs an interpreter, the interpreter should know signs and English words related to oncology as well as basic medical signs and words.

The more knowledge that interpreters have, the better suited they are to help a wider group of people effectively communicate.

Quick Thinking and Observational Skills

Generally, ASL interpretation takes place simultaneously with spoken English. The interpreter needs to be able to think quickly in order to translate. Additionally, facial expressions and body language are critical communication signals in ASL. A translator needs to be able to watch closely and pick up on those unspoken cues to better convey the tone of the conversation.

Communicating these messages in real-time takes the ability to think quickly and pay close attention to detail at the same time.

What Makes an Effective ASL Interpreter in Your Opinion?

Have you worked with ASL interpreters or as an ASL interpreter? What do you think makes an effective ASL interpreter? Let us know in the comments on our social media posts.

At Applied Development, we are always looking to work with qualified ASL interpreters to help our clients provide effective communication for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. Reach out to us today at 410.571.4016 or contact us online for more information regarding working for Applied Development or hiring an ASL interpreter.