Interpreter, What Do You Look Like?

Interpreter, What Do You Look Like?

This article is NOT about clothing or the way an interpreter stands or conducts him/herself in front of others, although it is important to consider all of these when signing for a group. Interpreters must consider the use of their eyes in interpreted communication. Some signers (Deaf or hearing) never look at anyone while signing to them. It is almost as if no person is watching! But the eyes are a very important part of ASL communication. Here are some important considerations….

Look at your “audience” when you sign. Someone told a young preacher, “If the crowd makes you nervous, just look above their heads when you preach. They will never know the difference.” But the truth is, people can see where your eyes are focused. It is natural and accepted to look at the people to whom you are signing. Caution do not pick one person as your “target,” but look at all Deaf people present.

Use your eyes for emphasis. The eyes can be used to emphasize a special point by looking at your signs or by looking at the imaginary scene you are drawing with your signs. Study and imitate the way Deaf people communicate with their eyes.

Use your eyes to show emotion. Emotion can be seen not only in your eyes, but also in your cheeks, mouth, forehead, and nose. Allow your face and eyes to become involved in the communication. Let your face become alive with meaning!

Use your eyes to communicate the message. When you use your eyes properly in sign language communication, the message of your signs can become more easily understood. Expression is vital to ASL. Do not be afraid of what hearing people will say. When you use your eyes and face as part of the message, you will be surprised at the good response!  Come to ASL Institute this summer! Click here to see the dates and register.

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