New Zealand Sign Language interpreters
If you are considering hiring a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter, follow these guidelines.
- Preferably, book New Zealand Sign Language interpreters at least four weeks in advance, as there is a shortage of trained interpreters. This is particularly true of tri-lingual interpreters (eg, Te Reo–English–New Zealand Sign Language)
- Although it is unlikely that a qualified tri-lingual sign language interpreter will be available, a New Zealand Sign Language agency may have alternate suggestions that could assist the engagement with a particular non-English speaking group; discuss your needs with them.
- Consider how many interpreters you require. You will need at least two interpreters, who can take turns, if a meeting goes longer than 1.5 hours or requires technically complicated signing. It is best to discuss this with the interpreting agency.
- If you are engaging interpreters, discuss with them the speed at which presenters should speak, and whether they will need a pause to allow interpreters to swap over.
- Send any written material you will use at the event to the interpreters ahead of time, to allow them to familiarise themselves with the content.
- Make sure the venue has appropriate lighting for hard of hearing people who rely on lip-reading and for users of sign language. Sign language interpreters need to be well lit, so that their face, hands and body can be easily seen. Reserve seats opposite interpreters for Deaf people. Ensure there are no barriers, such as poles, that may obstruct people’s view of the interpreters.
- When you are asking for comments from the audience, have at least one person (depending on the size and configuration of the group) ready to take a microphone to participants, and ensure that sign language interpreters have a microphone available. Be aware that you may need more than one microphone.
- If a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter is not available, or you wish to engage with Deaf participants who do not use New Zealand Sign Language, consider using an electronic note-taker/live captioning to transcribe the discussion in real time; this will transfer your material on to a data show or computer screen which the participant can read.
- If you are going to use videos in presentations, consider inserting captions or video clips of New Zealand Sign Language interpreters.
For more information about working with interpreters, see Effective communication with deaf people: A guide to working with New Zealand Sign Language interpreters, produced by the Office for Disability Issues.