Personal Life Changes for Sign Language Interpreters

Many sign language interpreters beginning their career do not realize how they will experience personal life changes.  Their posts on Social Media will be impacted because of the need for confidentiality.  Also, their interactions with D/deaf peers and friends will change. Finally, their conversations about their job may be altered in social settings with friends and family.

Social Media Impact

Sign language interpreters’ personal life changes include their use of Socialpersonal life changes Media, but it can still be used with attention to detail.  Facebook, Twitter, and other social involvement can become delicate.  It is common knowledge that people use Social Media to post how they feel and what they did that day.  Since the Code of Professional Conduct prevents interpreters from discussing their work with the public, it is likely they will not be able to post anything about their day.  Secondly, interpreters need to be aware of their posts about “feelings,” as it could have a negative impact on D/deaf clients or friends. For example, if an interpreter posts that they are “tired from working all night” and a D/deaf client sees the post, the D/deaf client may feel guilty that the interpreter worked for them all night at the hospital.

Remaining Professional On the Job

Sign language interpreters interactions with D/deaf friends or peers on the job are different than interactions in a social setting.  For example, it is customary in D/deaf culture to hug an acquaintance, friend, or family member.  This is, however, not always appropriate in a professional interpreting setting.  Here is another example of personal life changes that interpreters must consider in advance.  Perhaps they need to inform the client or friend, “I am not supposed to show physical contact on the job, but if we have a few minutes after let’s catch up outside.”  Most D/deaf consumers know this, but it is the job of the interpreter to culturally mediate this information.  Also, as referred to in our blog about the Professional Code of Conduct (Ethics), an interpreter may decline a job based on an inability to remain neutral.


Interpreters go into a variety of environments daily.  They are exposed to different people and potential illnesses. It is common practice that at most medical facilities a flu shot is required.  Personal life changes for a sign language interpreter may need to be reconsidered if the interpreter does not support vaccination.  To reduce illness, interpreters should always practice appropriate self-care.  Sign language interpreters who are not rested or hydrated run the risk of getting sick.  Though sickness is no fun for the interpreter, it also complicates an interpreted job.   A client or agency must then seek a substitute interpreter last minute.  This may cause the D/deaf consumer to go without services.

Confidential Job Information

Lastly, most spouses know where their partner works.  Since sign language interpreters cannot disclose information about their jobs, however, this may cause friction at home.  Sign language interpreters must keep job information confidential, but they may consider informing a spouse or care-taker of their general whereabouts for the day.  This provides security to the interpreter and peace of mind to the spouse or care-taker.

Though personal life changes occur for sign language interpreters, the job is very rewarding.  These practices become common over-time.


Additional Resources:

Does Social Networking Impair Sign Language Interpreter Ethics?


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review