If you are experienced with the task of booking a sign language interpreter you appreciate the simple yet profound lesson offered by Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Preparing for the arrival of a sign language interpreter at your location begins well before they walk through the doors. This preparation is most easily understood when divided into two parts, booking preparation, and onsite preparation.

Booking Preparation

When booking an interpreter it is critical to provide as much information as possible about your booking to the agency you are working with. This will assist them in determining the availability and qualifications of the interpreter(s) needed for your request. It also gives the interpreters that will be approached by the agency greater clarity to determine if they are the right fit for your request.

What information is needed to successfully prepare the agency for your booking?

  • Date(s) and time(s) the interpreter is needed
  • Location (address of the building and room number)
  • Nature of the occasion and schedule of activity (important)
  • Multiple onsite points of contact
  • Name and role of the Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing person(s) attending
  • Number of people will be participating
  • Logistical bits of help (parking lot, train station, cross street, dining options, etc)
  • All materials and media to be presented or discussed at the event
  • The desired outcome for attendees of the event

Taking the time to provide all of the above information at the beginning of your booking will assist in making sure you get the right interpreter for your event. It will also ensure you have the greatest chance possible to achieve the desired outcome of your event.

Once you have prepped the agency you are working with, it is important to make sure that you are prepared to receive the sign language interpreter onsite at your location.

Onsite Preparation

The performance of the best of interpreters can take a dip when faced with difficulty accessing and operating within an event. Avoiding onsite delays and challenges is key to a successful outcome for all those who are party to the interpretation.

What should you be thinking about to ensure the interpreter has the greatest chance for success while operating onsite at your event?

  • Ensure those listed as points of contact are accessible and agreeable
  • Provide a brief on the aim of the event
  • Provide a brief on the aim of the event and review the schedule of activities with the interpreter
  • Provided printed copies of the agenda, reference documents, slides, etc
  • Introduce the interpreter to presenters and those with key roles at the event
  • Be agreeable to potential adjustment to the physical setup
  • Confirm there is adequate lighting throughout the room

There are many things to consider depending on your specific location. As a rule, imagine you are a person who has never been to your location. What do you need to know to avoid delays or challenges?

At the End

The bottom line is that you and the participants, interpreter(s), and the agency want the same thing, a positive outcome. To achieve a successful outcome, work intentionally to prepare the agency at the time of booking. Prepare in advance to receive the interpreter onsite. By doing these things you will create a circumstance where everyone party to the interpretation will have the benefit of the interpreters best work.