Simple Signing

It has been said that a good teacher can take a hard subject and teach it simply. In much the same way, a good interpreter can take a hard message and make it easy to understand. Here are some helpful ideas.

1.    First, listen to the message for concepts and ideas, not just for the words. Words carry concepts and ideas.
2.    Think of an easy way to say the same thing you heard, but in easy words (English). Use this to confirm your understanding and to confirm your choice of signs and language.
3.    Imagine or picture in your mind what was said. How are ideas related? Which ideas build upon other ideas? Where are people or objects located? What did the faces look like? What did the area or location look like?
4.   Consider the people to whom you are interpreting. What level or kind of language do they use? Do they use ASL, Pidgin, English, a combination? What is their education level?
5.    Organize the message in signs to meet the need of Deaf people in front of you. Choose signs they will understand.
6.    Take your time and sign clearly. Fast signing is not necessarily good signing. Be clear first.
7.    Watch for understanding and adjust as needed.
8.   Evaluate your signing. Or, have another interpreter watch you and make positive suggestions. Take notes and improve.
Never be satisfied with your signing skill. Seek to improve your vocabulary and language use, both in English and ASL. Just knowing signs does not mean you are a clear interpreter. Practice signs and language daily. Get involved in the Deaf community and watch how they communicate.  – Signing Off

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