Certification and Experience
For mental health settings, Sign Language Resources, Inc. believes that interpreters must be certified. Certification assures at least a minimum skill level of the interpreter. Then training and experience with established mental health interpreting professionals is essential. SLR interpreters have these qualifications to perform services such as regulary scheduled out-patient therapy sessions, and in-patient situations requiring cognitive assement and/or crisis intervention.
Before and After an AppointmentPre- and post-sessions with the interpreter are recommended. A few minutes of your time provides a critical resource for effective interpreted communication. Before the session begins, it is wise to discuss the following information with the interpreter:
Post-session time allows for a brief check-in with the interpreter, specifically about any language or communication issues that may have occurred during the session. The interpreter may make communication suggestions that may be utilized on the next visit.
Not every interpreter will be a "good fit" with every client. The experienced interpreter will self-assess their ability to continue on subsequent visits and if needed will assist you in arranging for a replacement. Consistency of services and the quality of interpretation for ongoing sessions is the ultimate goal.
Role of the Interpreter
Sign language interpreters are required to follow a stringent Code of Conduct. Confidentiality is foremost and it is recommended that mental health providers will explain the entitlement of privacy to clients at the appropriate time during the first session.
All of the following aspects are based on the RID Code of Conduct and the advice of experts:
Language and Communication Method
The interpreter may need a couple of minutes at the beginning of the session to quickly assess the most readily understood language of the deaf or hard of hearing person, as there are a variety of sign languages and sign systems in use, or the person's illness may be interfering with his thought process, and rendering his expressive and receptive communication fragmented and nonsensical. To assist with this assessment, before the sessions begins, it is helpful to ask a few questions of a more introductory nature such as where a person lives, job information, or general family configuration. In more complex situations such as those with highly visual deaf people or one who is decompensating, if the deaf person is not from the local area, or there is more than one deaf person present, an interpreter may need more time to assess the most effective language strategies.
If a person is more "highly visual" the interpreter may choose to work in a consecutive manner instead of their usual method of interpreting at the same time you are speaking or the deaf person is signing.
There may also be a need to include a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI), whose primary skills and training are geared toward working with those whose language is disjointed, highly visual, or is not a native American Sign Language user (or a foreign-born deaf individual). The CDI is a Deaf person who is trained and certified as an interpreter, and may be called upon to work as an intermediary to insure the most effective communication. This is especially recommended for situations involving in-depth assessment, testing, or where life-altering decisions will be reliant upon outcome, as well as in ongoing cases of extremely highly visual deaf persons.
The sign language interpreter may work with a spoken language interpreter if there are other hearing parties involved, say in family therapy, who do not speak English.