Sign Language Resources, Inc.

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Interpreting in Highly Technical Environments

Technical Hand


Interpreters around the world all know that if you don't understand something, you can't interpret it. To staff an event where technical subject matter will be discussed, Sign Language Resources carefully matches interpreters who already possess such experience, or who have the propensity for the subject to gain such information through research and new learning.

There are many challenges for the interpreter who is called upon to interpret in technical environments. Such activities might include staff and project update meetings, trainings, safety meetings, customer support, and all else that employees do when they meet up with customers and coworkers to advance their projects.

The specialized roles of the people we work with might be aerospace engineers, automotive mechanics, architects, electricians, computer programmers and network administrators, industrial engineers, graphic arts designers, technical support specialist, process technicians, and?well you get the point?the list is virtually endless! If a job description exists, it is likely that somewhere a Deaf person holds this position or works in this field. To be successful in his or her work, and for his or her company to gain the most benefit from his employment, usually an interpreter is involved on an ongoing basis to ensure that communication with others is seamless.

Each interpreter gears himself toward a certain genre of Sign Language interpreting. Possessing the ability to learn quickly, resorting to the myriad of tricks and tools learned through years of interpreting experience, and having general knowlege of the subject area, are just the first steps in preparing for such interpreting. An interpreter will often then learn the specific vocabulary and concepts of a unique project from the employees on site. In this case it makes sense that the same team of interpreters, scheduled in rotation, be utilized for long periods of time.

The more sophisticated and specialized technology becomes, the more interpreters of technical matter must adapt by developing complex and specialized knowledge themselves.


Technical interpreting requires:

  • Broad knowledge of technical and human resource vocabulary

  • Strong understanding of ASL and Deaf culture

  • Solid general education and extensive vocabulary in both languages

  • Ability to express thoughts clearly and concisely in both languages

  • Ability to work within a changing schedule

  • Outstanding communications skills

  • Strong signing and voicing skills

  • Excellent customer service skills

  • Interpersonal skills and ability to interact with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds (customers, coworkers, trainers, and management)