Interpreter FAQs and Resources

Your questions, answered

We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. If you have a question that isn’t answered below, please contact us by phone 410.318.6780 x200 or email

How can I find out more about ADA and my responsibilities under the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, businesses that are places of public accommodations or commercial facilities, and transportation.

What is the role of the interpreter?

  • ASL interpreters are professionals who facilitate communication between signers and non-signers (they are not friends or family members of the d/Deaf client/s).
  • Sign language is not universal and is a highly developed form of visual communication.
  • Oral interpreters are trained to use spoken English lip movements while interpreting.
  • While working, interpreters are held accountable to interpret everything that is said into sign language and to interpret everything that is signed into spoken English.
  • To maintain the integrity of messages, interpreters convey emotions and nuanced meanings of those involved in the communication exchange and do not alter the intent of the message.
  • Interpreters are bound to their code of professional conduct and are required to remain neutral, meaning it is deemed unprofessional to share opinions or give advice while working.

Where should the interpreter sit or stand?

  • Interpreters should be positioned so those needing to see the interpretation can also see both the speaker and the interpreter at all times in their preferred line of sight (interpreters typically work closely with d/Deaf clients to establish the most beneficial placements).
  • Avoid placing interpreters directly in front of light sources as it can hinder visibility.
  • Interpreters’ placement is often dynamic and it can be expected for their position to change, perhaps multiple times depending on the setting.

Do I talk to the interpreter or the person who is d/Deaf?

  • Speak directly to and maintain eye contact with those to whom you are communicating, not the interpreter.

Should people talk differently if they use interpreters?

  • Although the interpreter is usually behind the pace of the person speaking, speaking slower would be inadvisable. The time lapse may cause delayed responses from people but it is a part of the natural flow of using interpreters who are working with two different languages.
  • If reading text, it is recommended to aim for a natural pace, even pausing at the end of important points. This has shown to be extremely helpful to interpreters.
  • Avoid referencing by using the words ‘here,’ ‘there,’ ‘this,’ ‘that,’ etc., doing so will make the interpretation much more effective.

What do I do if I have a script or resources that would help the interpreter?

  • If you are using any script, PowerPoints, or highly technical language, it is beneficial to share it with interpreters (or review it with them). Getting these materials to interpreters earlier is always recommended over not providing them at all or sending them last minute.
  • Have a discussion with interpreters before the event to establish ways for them to ask for clarification during the interaction (for example, raising a hand for the speaker to slow down).
  • Provide relevant assignment/event information before the assignment begins. These items may be agendas, programs, copies of speeches or sheet music and can be invaluable to the interpreter.


Websites with organizations related to interpreting and Deaf communities:

The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.

Other Maryland and Washington DC clubs and associations: