Accuracy is Critical to Sign Language Interpreting

Providing accurate news could save someone’s life.  With all the tragic events happening in our world today, accuracy is critical to sign language interpreting because it could be the difference between life and death in the event of a tornado, armed intruder, or terrorist attack.

The video below demonstrates the dangers of not monitoring who you hire as your sign language interpreter.

Do I need an Interpreter?

Accuracy is Critical to Sign Language Interpreting

You may ask why an interpreter would be needed for your area of work.  Sign Language Interpreters can be found in school, colleges, businesses, hospitals, doctor’s offices, behavioral health institutes, social events, concerts, courtrooms, other legal settings, and so on.  Imagine some of scenarios below:

  1. Doctor’s Office: Deaf patient has goes to the doctor to get a prescription of birth control. Without an interpreter, the Deaf patient nods their head in understand but in reality they aren’t sure how frequently to take the medicine or at what times.  They go home and end up taking three pills in one day thinking it should be at each meal.  First, this may render the birth control ineffective.  Second, and even worse, it could result in irregular heartbeats or even a heart attack.
  2. Hospital: Deaf patient with a brain injury comes into the emergency room. A staff member says they know some sign language.  The patient starts signing words that don’t seem to make sense.  This is not uncommon since signs vary regionally and generationally.  But it could also be because this patient is having difficulty communicating due to their head injury.  The staff member picks out a few signs here and there and thinks they know what is wrong and how to help.  They decide it is not a big deal and send the patient home with a minor pain reliever prescription.  In reality the patient has a brain tumor causing them to faint and hit their head.
  3. Business: Deaf employee goes to annual safety training for the first time. They have an interpreter who is certified but does not seem to know any of the terminology taught.  To save face, they sign what they can and eliminate information they don’t understand.  The safety training is for a factory where dangerous tools are used on a daily basis.  As a result the employee does not know how to respect the machines and could be injured during work hours.

Suffice it to say, accuracy is critical to sign language interpreting.  Communication is the key.

Guarantee Accuracy

But how can you be sure your sign language interpreter is qualified and providing accurate services?  The primary recommendation is to find a company that specializes in sign language interpreting and can provide proof through references of their quality.  How do they go about selecting interpreters for you as a customer?  They should be the specialist in knowing their interpreters and scheduling them appropriately for your needs.

Each interpreted event is different.  Interpreters may be needed for anything from a job interview to a medical appointment to a court appearance.  There are often misconceptions that someone who is Deaf can lip-read in these situations.  They may say they are fine without an interpreter, but they don’t know what they are missing if no one tells them.  Certified Deaf Interpreters play a part in accuracy as well.  According to the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), CDI’s “have specialized training and/or experience in the use of gesture, mime, props, drawings and other tools to enhance communication.”


Without a guaranteed certified qualified sign language interpreter, everyone suffers.  Whether in a small setting such as a doctor’s office or large setting like a government public announcement, accuracy is critical to sign language interpreting.  Be sure to know what kind of services you are receiving so your Deaf patients, students, employees, or clientele understand what you are telling them.


Additional Resources:

RID: Certified Deaf Interpreter

How Accurately Can Speech be Translated…?

Best Practices: American Sign Language and English Interpretation within Court and Legal Settings


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review