There is no question that determining if more than one sign language interpreter is required for your booking can be a little tricky.

Though tricky, if you’ll measure your booking request against two considerations, you’ll likely know in moments if you need more than one interpreter to do the job.

So, what are these two considerations?

  1. Accuracy of the interpretation/communication
  2. Wellbeing of the interpreter providing the service


It should go without saying that all interpretations should be accurate and in support quality communication among those party to the interpretation. Accordingly, you might be asking yourself if accuracy is a good measure to determine if you need more than one sign language interpreter.

It definitely is.

Use accuracy as a measurement in this way, if the stakes are high and the desired outcome mission critical or legally impactful, can you afford the risk of an imperfect interpretation?

Further, do you believe it possible for a single sign language interpreter to deliver a completely accurate interpretation of your subject matter if it is dense, technical, or is jargon-laden? Can the interpretation be done accurately if the interpreter has no first-hand knowledge of the environment, the parties to the interpretation, or the mission of your organization?

The answers to these and similar questions will give you a good indication if you should have more than one interpreter present.

It is important to note that many sign language interpreting agencies perform an initial assessment of their booking requests to determine if there are any foreseen challenges that may inhibit the accuracy of the interpretation to be delivered.


Another measure to assist you in determining if you need more than one sign language interpreter is to consider if the length, nature, and set-up of your event is likely to have a negative physical or emotional impact on the interpreter?

Here are some questions you might ask yourself and others to make that determination:

  • Is it reasonable to expect that the interpreter can physically and mentally interpreter for the length of time we have scheduled?
  • Can the interpreter be physically present in all the places we need them?
  • Are there any physical barriers in the environment where the interpreter will be working that will make it difficult to do their work?
  • Does the number of people in attendance impact the work the interpreter will need to do?
  • Is the nature of the engagement at the event or meeting fast paced?
  • Does the schedule allow for a break for the interpreter?
  • Is my subject matter emotionally triggering?

It is likely that the sign language interpreting agency you are working with has terms in their agreement to assist in protecting the physical and emotional wellbeing of the interpreter. This takes the shape of a policy that any assignment over one and a half or two hours requires two interpreters. This is a very common practice in the field of sign language interpreting.

At the end

To be effective using accuracy and wellbeing as a measurement to determine the need for more than one sign language interpreter, it is key to be honest in your evaluation of your circumstance. You also have to recognize the potential impact on those party to the interpretation and the interpreter themselves if you are not.

That said, an honest measurement your booking request against the two considerations discussed will lead you down the road to making a determination that will ensure a quality outcome for all the parties involved.

It is important to note that should you have trouble making a determination, both agencies and interpreters are generally comfortable assisting you in identifying the number of interpreters needed for your booking.