The Importance of Client Information for Sign Language Interpreters

When you as a customer make a request for a sign language interpreter, a reputable sign language interpreting firm will ask for specific client information for sign language interpreters.  The purpose of this is to be able to match a certified qualified sign language interpreter with the client appropriately.  The interpreting firm will analyze the situation and setting before assigning an interpreter.  This way the appointment can run as smoothly as possible.

Different Settings Have Different Needs


Educational settings may require more information than other settings because of the heavy content in a classroom or tutoring session.  Frequently an interpreter will spend an entire semester in Chemistry, Algebra, English, or any other class.  The client’s grade may depend on the lectures being interpreted accurately.  The more information the interpreter can receive ahead of time, the better they can interpret the class content.

Additionally, the interpreter will frequently be with the student throughout the semester or longer.  Before assigning an interpreter, an interpreting firm will want to know all the information ahead of time so they can choose the most appropriate interpreter long-term.  This way they will hopefully not end up with any conflicts between the interpreter, student, or specific class throughout the semester.

Medical/Mental Health

Each interpreter is an individual with their own background experience.  Reputable firms work to know their interpreters.  Depending on the medical or mental health appointment, they may be aware that one interpreter has more experience in a field than another.  For example, an interpreter may have had specific training related to the cardiovascular system.  In this case, they would be most appropriate to interpret a heart surgery appointment.  Or perhaps an interpreter has mental health interpreting training.  They would be most qualified to interpret counseling or therapy sessions because they know terminology and techniques.

Because interpreters are human, they may also become queasy in certain situations.  Perhaps, for example, they are not willing to interpret for an ultrasound because they have experienced a recent miscarriage.  Or they have a family history of depression and should not interpret for a depressed client therapy meeting.


Not all interpreters are qualified to interpret in a legal setting even if they are certified at the right level.  Because of the nature of courtrooms and other legal situations, client information for sign language interpreters is especially critical when assigning and preparing interpreters.  Content in this setting is serious and could make an interpreter uncomfortable.  The more they know ahead of time about the case, the more equal the access to communication for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing client.

Requested Client Information for Sign Language Interpreters

A reputable sign language interpreting company will ask things beyond the basics of date, time, and location.  They may ask any of the following for the purpose of preparing the sign language interpreter(s) as much as possible.

Client Information for Sign Language Interpreters

  • What is the content/topic of the appointment? Will the interpreter(s) get any breaks?
  • Where should the interpreter(s) park?
  • What is the client’s age?
  • Does the client have a preferred language mode or interpreter?
  • Who is the point of contact (person on-site)? How can the interpreter reach them if they have issues finding the location?
  • Are PowerPoints or other handouts available?
  • Have you or your company worked with sign language interpreters before?
  • Would you like educational materials about working with sign language interpreters?


The more client information for sign language interpreters provided by the customer, the more accurately an interpreting company can assign and prepare their sign language interpreter(s).  Equal access to communication goes beyond assigning a certified interpreter.  It is critical to assign a qualified sign language interpreter.  The only way to be able to do this is to have enough information to appropriately choose and then match interpreters with clients and settings.  We also recommend using a consistent interpreter whenever possible.


Additional Information:

Preparing for an Interpreting Assignment

Tips for Working with Deaf Students and Interpreters


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review