Working with ASL Interpreters


  • Communicate lesson objectives beforehand. Provide copies of class syllabi, handouts, and other materials. Interpreter Services can provide textbooks to interpreters, but ordering may take several weeks.
  • Do not ask interpreters to do tasks beyond interpreting, such as participating in class activities, serving as aides, or proctoring tests.
  • Work collaboratively with the interpreter and the student. Discuss strategies for making information accessible or other issues that arise.
  • Maintain confidentiality: Do not discuss a student or his work directly with the interpreter. Communicate with the student via the interpreter or talk with the SAS counselor on your campus.
  • Understand that interpreters are bound by a code of professional conduct. For more information, view Interpreter Code of Professional Conduct.
  • Interpreters are not responsible for a student’s attendance or behavior. Discuss behavior concerns with the student or with the Student Accessibility Services, or refer the student to the campus SAS office.

During Class

  • Two interpreters may be assigned to prevent interpreter fatigue. If a second interpreter is used, they must remain in the class.
  • Deaf students must be able to see the interpreter(s) anytime the instructor is speaking.  Interpreter(s) should stand or sit near the instructor so that the student can simultaneously see the instructor, the interpreter and any visual aids. Do not to obstruct the interpreter as you move about the room.
  • If the room is darkened for visual aids, make sure the interpreter is visible.
  • Remember that the interpreter may be one to several sentences behind the speaker
  • Present information visually using the chalkboard, handouts, graphics, overheads, copies of lecture notes, closed caption videotapes, etc. Provide the interpreter with any handouts so that they can follow along.
  • Give examples of concepts. For example, if you refer to a policeman, you are conveying characteristics such as xyz.
  • When pointing to a board or computer screen, hold the position long enough so that the student can focus on both the interpreter and what is being referenced.
  • Check for captioning when showing a video or DVD. Make sure the television captioning feature is on. If the video is not captioned, the interpreter will interpret it.  Contact Interpreter Services to determine whether a video is captioned or whether alternatives are available.
  • Avoid talking when students are looking up pages in the textbook or working on the computer. Students can't read and watch the interpreter at the same time.
  • When reading material to the class, provide a copy to the deaf student or prepare an overhead transparency, particularly if the exercise is to analyze the language used. Interpreting the language for ASL may cause the student to miss the point. If possible, provide the material to the interpreter in advance. Read more slowly so that the interpreter can keep up.
  • Encourage students to speak one at a time so the interpreter can facilitate the exchange of ideas.
  • If a deaf student is absent, the interpreter will wait 15 minutes for each hour of class (30 minutes for a 2 hour class) then report to Interpreter Services to see if they are needed elsewhere.

Adding an Interpreter to Blackboard

Adding an interpreter as a student to your Blackboard roster does not violate privacy regulations and allows them to preview classroom material and prepare for the class. Go to steps for adding an interpreter in Blackboard as a student.