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MedEd Connections Resource Guide: Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH)

Interpreters for the Deaf / Hard of Hearing


Interpreter At Training

Sign language interpreters for the deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) are specially trained to convey and facilitate communication between people who use American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English. For example, a person who is deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) will watch the interpreter while people are using spoken English. The interpreter is using ASL to convey the spoken message to the person who is D/HH. The person who is D/HH will sign in response to what was vocally said. The interpreter will read the sign language, and then convey that message in spoken English to the person listening. Thus, communication between ASL users and spoken English users is achieved. Additionally, as professionals, interpreters follow a code of conduct and keep all interpreted conversations confidential.

Two common types of interpreters include community interpreters and educational interpreters. Community interpreters work in any public setting, including hospitals. Educational interpreters work in school settings.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that state and local governments make their programs, services, and activities accessible to people with disabilities, including people who are D/HH. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses that are open to the public to ensure that people with a disability have equal access to all that the businesses have to offer. This includes hospitals and doctor offices. Together, Title II and Title III of the ADA indicate that people who are D/HH can be provided a community interpreter to access communication and services upon request.

The school will provide an educational interpreter if it is indicated as needed for access to education as part of a student’s individualized education program (IEP). An educational interpreter is licensed by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to facilitate communication between the D/HH participants who use sign language in pre-K-12 settings. The educational interpreter collaborates with the educational team to facilitate communication and curriculum accessibility. It is crucial for the interpreter to have a deep understanding of the student’s needs, language, communication mode, and individualized education program (IEP) goals to interpret the general curriculum, as well as social interactions, expansion of new ideas, incidental information, and auditory data.

How Do I Use an Interpreter?

  • Maintain eye contact with the person who is D/HH and talk directly to them.
  • Make sure that the lighting in the room is good so that the person who is D/HH has access to see the interpreter.
  • Make sure there is direct visual access between the person who is D/HH and the interpreter at all times.
  • If you are using the interpreter to get a person’s attention, simply say their name and the interpreter will convey your message.
  • Please visit Outreach Center at OCALI’s Promoting Access for People Who Are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind or Visually Impaired, particularly Chapter 2, for more information on how to work with an educational interpreter.

How Do I know if an Educational Interpreter Would Benefit my Child?

Explore the Classroom Interpreting website to discover considerations for an interpreted education, the role and responsibilities of an educational interpreter, and how your child would access communication with an interpreter at school. Ohio’s 2011 Guidelines for Educational Interpreters assists educational teams in providing appropriate educational interpreting services.

Do You Need Help Finding an Interpreter Right Now?

Explore the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) to find an interpreter who fits your child’s needs. In order to find the interpreter best suited, you may need to use this acronym guide to better understand the abbreviations on this registry.

List of Acronyms

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