Deaf and Sign Language Interpreter Collaboration and Partnerships

Deaf and sign language interpreter collaboration and partnerships are vital to the success of any interpretation, but unfortunately they are rarely considered in the field of sign language interpreting.

Why should Deaf and sign language interpreter collaboration be at the forefront of our work?  If Deaf consumers do not allow for collaboration, then sign language interpreters cannot appropriately do their job.  Similarly, if sign language interpreters are not open to collaboration then they cannot appropriately interpret for a Deaf client.

Participant Investment

For effective communication between more than one person, ALL participants must be actively involved.  They must desire an adequate outcome.   Let’s consider a married couple.  Often, couples need to determine how to approach a specific task or goal as a team.  During this time, they consider their ideas and opinions.  The restrictions due to the specific task or goal, then, determine how they will approach it.  It will likely lead to an ineffective outcome if one spouse has more authority than another or refuses to listen to the other’s viewpoint.  See our blogs on sign language interpreting and power positions and the effects of power positions in sign language interpretation.

Sign language interpretations should work the same way as the example above.  The goal is to achieve effective communication. Deaf clients and sign language interpreters are on the same team, and they must work together.  This partnership should be established immediately when a Deaf client and sign language interpreter meet.  This partnership should be kept in mind through all interactions.  This ensures a respectful process and an effective interpretation.

Balance and a Neutral InterpretationDeaf and sign language interpreter collaboration and partnerships

Sign language interpreters have a big responsibility.  Not only must they collaborate with Deaf clients but also with professional and other participants such as physicians, attorneys, and teachers.  Collaboration, or cultural medication, can sometimes be a balancing act.  Read about the importance of collaboration in business and medical settings. Overall, sign language interpreters are responsible for ensuring an accurate interpretation.  They must also ensure balanced collaboration so one party does not have more control than another.  An interpreter’s neutrality is always priority.

We invite you to put these examples into practice and establish collaboration and a partnership mentality.


Additional Resources:

Collaborating with Interpreters

Importance of Promoting Collaborative Communications in the Health Care Environment


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review