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The Role of a Sign Language Interpreter

The Role of a Sign Language Interpreter

By: Audiologist, Angie Lederman, MS, CCC-A

The hearing-impaired community is extremely diverse. Each individual interacts with the world in their own way, whether it be by relying on a cochlear implant or by using sign language. Many use a combination of different strategies to communicate.

Many seemingly simple tasks can present a challenge for those with a hearing loss. Our world primarily serves people without a disability. Unfortunately, people with a hearing loss can face many obstacles without the accommodations that must be made in order to meet the needs of the hearing-impaired community. There is a growing number of people working to make a change.

Fortunately, we have sign language interpreters who serve an important role in our community. They have always helped make many experiences, such as concerts an education, more accessible to a wider audience. The benefits of sign language interpreters extends beyond those with a hearing loss. Everyone benefits from being able to connect, better understand, and effectively communicate with the hearing-impaired community.

What is Sign Language?

Sign language is a system of using visual gestures and signs to communicate. Did you know that there isn’t one universal form of sign language? Sign languages have their own dialects or “accents” from around the world. American Sign Language is the most common choice in North America.

Who Uses Sign Language?

Sign language is the primary method of communication for many people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. However, they are not the only ones who can use it!

  • Parents – The majority of deaf children are born to hearing parents. Sign language is a necessity in these households to effectively meet the needs of the children. Many parents start learning early on alongside their hearing-impaired child.
  • Educators – Many special education teachers must know sign language to effectively teach hearing-impaired children. However, it’s not uncommon for a hearing-impaired child to be found in any type of classroom. Knowing sign language is an increasingly desired skill for all teachers to have!
  • Service providers – Counselors, medical professionals, and other service providers benefit from learning sign language and are able to effectively communicate with those with hearing loss.
  • First responders – Police, paramedics, and firefighters interact with people in emergency situations. Deaf or hearing-impaired individuals can find themselves in need of communicating with emergency responders during critical times.

What Do Sign Language Interpreters Do?

There are many different types of sign language interpreters. They all have the common goal to work as a “translator” for the hearing impaired community. A sign language interpreter works to translate spoken language to sign language, and vice versa. They help bridge the communication gap between a hearing person and a hearing-impaired individual. This helps ensure fair and equal accessibility.

Sign Language Interpreters Benefit Everyone

Sign language interpreters provide a necessary and valuable service to society. Their benefits extend beyond the hearing-impaired community.

  • Meaningful conversations – Sign language interpreters facilitate meaningful conversations by connecting two individuals, one hearing person and one with a hearing loss, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to understand each other.
  • Accessibility – Sign language interpreters enhance accessibility by helping those with a hearing-impairment face the obstacles they encounter on a daily basis.
  • Education – Sign language interpreters increase education and awareness for those without a hearing-impairment by helping offer a glimpse into the world of the hearing-impaired community.

Contact Us to Learn More about Hearing Education

At Hear Now, we pride ourselves on being a valuable resource to our community. We offer hearing evaluations, hearing loss and tinnitus management, and resources for communication strategies. We believe in the importance of a support system for individuals facing a hearing loss. Call us today if you are ready to learn more about your hearing healthcare.

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