Lawyers serve diverse demographics and their clients’ needs can vary substantially. Since many people in the United States rely on sign language for communication, lawyers from time to time might need access to experienced, professional sign language linguists.
Our language service company works with credentialled American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters who help attorneys serve their deaf and hearing-impaired clientele. If you haven’t worked with an ASL interpreter or a language company, the following dos and don’ts might help you make the most of your language support services.
Sign Language Statistics
Sign language is more common than we think. People who aren’t hearing-impaired might underestimate the very real need for sign language linguists in a variety of industries—especially law.
- About 70 million people across the globe communicate through sign language
- One million people rely on American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary mode of communication
- Over 30 million Americans are hearing-impaired
- There are 300 forms of sign language around the world
- The deaf and hearing-impaired rely on sign language interpreters in medical and legal settings
Important Social Clues When Working with the Deaf and Interpreters
Working with an ASL interpreter and hearing-impaired clients presents some differences to attorneys when compared to verbal communication. There are important social clues to keep in mind when enlisting the help of an interpreter and communicating with a hearing-impaired person.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that while an interpreter is translating your verbal communication into sign language, your conversation is with your client, another legal professional, witness, etc.—not the interpreter. This means that you should maintain respectful eye contact with whom you’re trying to communicate. You should not frame your questions in the third person, either. For example, you would speak as if you’re communicating verbally with your the person who is hearing-impaired and not use directives like “tell him” or “ask her” with your interpreter.
If you’re enlisting the help of an interpreter to take depositions, provide testimony, or negotiate the terms of agreements, consider providing your list of questions, prompts, and documents ahead of time to your interpreter. This gives them time to prepare for proceedings and accommodate those with hearing impairments.
Converse as you normally would. This means that you don’t have to change your manner of speaking or pace when communicating. Your interpreter will ask for clarifications or for you to slow down when it’s necessary. Try to make your conversations as natural as possible.
Bear in mind that interpreters must convey everything that is said to a deaf person. Everything you say will be interpreted during conferences and conversations.
Choosing Certified, Experienced ASL Linguists
We work with experienced and certified ASL interpreters to help attorneys inside and outside of the courtroom. Beyond providing in-person ASL linguists, we can assist your legal practice with video remote interpretation (VRI) as well. VRI helps reduce costs associated with in-person translation and ideal for communicating with the hearing-impaired on short notice. A VRI session utilizes video conferencing and secure Internet connections to facilitate conversations between the hearing-impaired and those who communicate verbally.
Choosing experienced and credentialled ASL linguists is imperative for serving your clients and parties associated with legal matters who have hearing impairments. Our credentialled interpreters maintain the utmost in confidentiality and professionalism, too. They will maintain the strict confidentiality agreements set forth in your meetings with your client and other parties involved in legal proceedings.
ASL linguists are beneficial for interpreting testimonies and depositions as well as relaying important information contained in legally-binding documents, negotiations, and mediation sessions.
Contact us to learn more about our language services. In addition to our team of ASL linguists, we offer experienced legal translators for more than 100 languages from our New York City offices.