Voicing – Interpreting From ASL to Voice

“I can sign in ASL very well. I can understand Deaf people signing to me. But I HATE voicing for a Deaf person!” Many interpreters seem to dislike voicing or have difficulty voicing well. Here are a few tips to help.

The process is actually quite easy. First, understand what the Deaf person says; then say it clearly in English!

Constantly improve your sign language skills by going to conferences, workshops, and other training. Invest quality time conversing with Deaf people in their language without using your voice.

Improve your English vocabulary. Learn many different English words for each sign. Seek to match the voiced words with the education level of the Deaf person for whom you are voicing. For example, a laborer will use a particular vocabulary, a college professor will tend to use a different vocabulary, and a preacher will use still different terminology. Crossword puzzles can help improve your vocabulary. So, go work a puzzle!

Study the way hearing people talk. Pay attention to how public speakers sound. When do they get loud or soft? How do they use tone, inflection, rate, pauses, emphasis, sentence endings, and other vocal elements.

Practice voicing by listening to a recorded voice and imitating what you hear. Make your voice follow the speaker’s way of presenting. Listen to the way your voice sounds in this process. When you voice for a Deaf person, apply some of the same qualities to your voicing.

Allow your voice to sound natural. Pause only when it is appropriate in English. Sound as if you are speaking, not as if you are interpreting someone else’s message.

Do not let difficult parts of interpreting intimidate you. Interpreting is not about the interpreter, but is an area of service to others. Improve in all areas to the glory of God!

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