Acting Around Interpreters in the Workplace
Ensuring you understand the role of the interpreter can help you better communicate with colleagues who are deaf and/or hard-of-hearing.
The role of an interpreter is to convey the whole message accurately and appropriately from one language to another (for example, from English to Auslan). The tips below can help you bridge the communication gap.
Where possible, introductions to the interpreter, and all colleagues involved in the meeting should occur before the meeting begins. During these introductions, briefly outline the purpose of the meeting.
Make time for the interpreter to introduce themselves to the deaf or hard of hearing person and discuss any specifics about their communication needs.
Always make your deaf or hard-of-hearing colleague the centre of your attention, regardless of whether the interpreter is in the room. Maintain eye contact with your deaf or hard-of-hearing colleague, not the interpreter.
If you tend to present quite fast, try to remember to pause after each new idea to allow time for the interpreter to convey your idea in full and to allow time for responses.
Try to avoid complicated jargon, and use plain language where possible. If you use a lot of acronyms, be aware that the interpreter may not know what these mean if this is the first time they have interpreted in your workplace.
Remember that sometimes one short sentence in one language can require several sentences in another language.
Take advice from the Deaf person and your interpreter about the best seating arrangement for the interaction.