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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, & community efforts.

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Tips For Working With Interpreters

Division of Community Health Promotion

Provide good lighting for the interpreter.  If lighting needs to be adjusted to use visual equipment, provide auxiliary lighting or dim the lights with enough light to see the interpreter.

Try to allow only one person to speak at a time during group discussion or meetings.  The interpreter can't interpret or follow if several people are speaking at once.  Remember, the interpreter is a few words behind the speaker.  Give the interpreter time to finish before the next speaker begins.

Do not use friends or family members as interpreters.  Even if they are skilled enough to use sign language, they are often too emotionally or personally involved to interpret "effectively, accurately and impartially."  Using friends or family members as interpreters can cause problems in maintaining a person's right to privacy and confidentiality.

This content was modified from an article by Aralyn Petterson, "Information for Consumers of Interpreter Services."

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Are there different types of interpreters for the deaf?
A: Yes.

Q: How do I know which type of interpreter to hire for a consumer that makes a request?
A: Ask the consumer.  If you are still unsure, call a certified interpreter.

Q: How do I find an interpreter?
A: There is a searchable database of certified interpreters.