Interpreters are in high demand and although it is possible to book one at short notice, I recommended that you give an interpreter at least six to eight weeks' notice of an upcoming assignment. The more notice you give, the more likely you are to get the interpreter of your choice.

Once the interpreter has been confirmed, making a few small preparations in advance of the booking will ensure that you are all able to get the best out of the experience.


  • Email any written materials to the interpreter as soon as possible so they have time to prepare for the assignment They may also require hard copies of the materials on the day.


  • When arranging the space, make sure there is appropriate seating for the interpreter so that they are near to the person speaking, or central enough to be able to hear all of the speakers. The interpreter will need to sit opposite the deaf person or within their eye line. Don't sit the interpreter in front of a window, as the glare can make it difficult for the deaf person to see their face.


  • Sign language interpreters often interpret simultaneously, so there is no need for you to slow down your speech or pause for the interpreter to catch up. If the booking is with a deaf person who may have complex language needs, the interpreter will advise on the best way of working.


  • Talk to the deaf person directly. There is no need to say "ask her..." or "tell him...". The interpreter will work into BSL at the same time as a person is speaking, and into spoken English at the same time as the deaf person is signing. If the interpreter needs to ask for clarification or raise an issue, they will make that clear to you.


  • You should not expect the interpreter to be contribute their personal view to the discussion. They are impartial and are present in professional capacity only. However, the interpreter may comment if they feel that there is a problem that is hampering the communication.

  • There is often a time delay when interpreting so you may find that an interpreters hands are moving even though you have stopped talking, or that the deaf person has stopped signing but the interpreter is still talking. This is quite normal.


  • Interpreters will often work between 15-30 minutes before a break is necessary. If you have booked two interpreters they will arrange the working timetable themselves, but if only one is booked, please discuss breaks with them in advance.


  • Interpreters will interpret everything that is said or signed as faithfully as possible. Please do not ask the interpreter to omit anything.