Deaf people “hear” with their eyes. Being able to see the signer and the speaker or program are very important considerations. The interpreter can help by choosing the best location to sit or stand. The speaker may also have a preference when including Deaf people in the presentation. Remember that there are both Deaf and hearing people present. Both are important. Consider the whole situation when making these decisions.
Location – Some Deaf people use sign language, but also they read lips. Many signers also find it helpful to see the expressions on the speaker’s face. This will add to the interpretation as they can see the different emotions and facial expressions the speaker uses. Locating the interpreter in line of sight with the speaker can be very helpful. The interpreter should stand beside the speaker only when the situation requires it. For Deaf people, good lighting is like a microphone or sound system for hearing people. If deaf people cannot see, they cannot “hear.”
Sit or Stand? – Every situation is different. Consider each of these quesitons to help you decide whether to sit or stand. How many Deaf people are present? Is there good lighting on the interpreter? How long is the event? Is there a raised platform on which the interpreter will be positioned? Are there other interpreters involved? Does the speaker have a preference? Will the interpreter distract from the overall program? Will there be audience participation? In what way? How formal is the situation?
The location should make sense for the deaf person, the interperter, the speaker, and the audience. The interpreter must be positioned well so as not to distract, but to provide the best communication possible. Interpreters can help by considering all the factors and clearly communicating information to anyone involved in deciding the location. Interpreter, share your knowledge and help all involved!