Conference Workshop Seminar Interpreting

  • September 27, 2016

I’m Rae. I’m the owner of Rose Sign Language Interpreting Company here in Colorado. What we are going to discuss today is Conference Interpreting – Conference, Seminar…that thing where people get together and learn things together, usually, for uh… professional reasons? That’s what we are talking about.
Um…first of all, I’m not a lawyer. I own and run an interpreting agency so I’m pretty well versed in how the ADA, the Federal Law, The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, how that applies to a variety of different situations and settings in terms of sign language interpreting services. So, if you have specific legal questions, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with your organization’s legal counsel. OK? Alright. Let’s get started.
So…this video is being created because … this is a pretty common request that we receive and there are …some pretty common misunderstandings and questions that come up..uhhh..when we receive these calls. Umm…So hopefully this video can resolve some of the confusion and … (eye roll/shrug) make your life easier as you plan your conference. That’s the goal. We just make things a little bit easier for everyone, your deaf attendees, everybody involved, all your conference planners, everybody. I’ve got my notes! I’m ready! This is going to be a great video.
So..uhhh.. the first question is “Why are deaf people asking me to provide a sign language interpreter?” Well, it’s pretty simple. They are probably familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act and youuu…may not be. (laugh) The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ensures that people with disabilities have access to…everyday things. Like..conferences, like uhh…stores, um you may be familiar with the law that requires new buildings to have wheelchair ramps and make sure that hallways and aisles are wide enough for wheelchairs to get through. This is the same law, just a different part. So..umm..deaf people are asking because they know they have a legal right to these services. Now you do too! We’re already almost on the exact same page. (Wave hands) Check you out!
So Ummm…the next question that comes after that is..uh…” I get that I need to provide an interpreter but are you sure that I need to pay? Because…once I pay for the interpreter, I’ve seen your quote, once I pay for the interpreter (eye gaze left – sniff) I’m not going to make any money on this person’s ticket.” Uhh..ya you still have to pay for an interpreter. (Shoulder shrug) You do. Unfortunately, for you, not knowing about the ADA and the fact that you do have to provide access (lips smack) to people who want to take part in your seminar or conference or workshops? That ignorance…um…doesn’t excuse you from having to… fulfill your responsibilities under the law. Umm.. (lip smack/eye gaze up to left) you may be curious about something as you google around about the ADA of something called Undue Burden and thinking, “Oh well, I’m not going to make any money on this person so that’s undue burden! That’s not fair!” (Head nod) Ehh…not really. You still have to pay. Undue Burden…uhhh..when they’re talking about that it’s more cases of putting your company out of business by providing accessibility…not..”Darn it! I’m not going to profit in the same way that I thought I would.” Umm…you still have to provide interpreting services, even if it skews your budget.
Umm…the next question that comes is, “Ahh well you know what? We’re a non-profit. Do we still have to pay?” Yes, probably, yes you do. Again, if you would like to really drill down on this, I strongly encourage you to contact your (eye roll) organization’s legal counsel. (Eye gaze to left) In my experience, (right hand placed on chest) the loopholes that relieve you of your responsibility to provide…uhh…interpreting services or accessibility, those loopholes are few and far between. They are very hard to qualify for. But I do encourage you to contact your legal counsel. (Shoulder shrug and arms spread out) Better safe than sorry, right?
Umm…so, we’ve gotten through the confusing bits: “Why am I having to do this?” ”Are you sure I have to do this?” You have to do it because it’s a law. Yes, I’m sure you have to do this. Pretty sure! (Eye roll and right hand fans out.) There aren’t a lot of loopholes.
So now…we’re booking your interpreter! So what do you need? What do we need? need interpreters to stay on the right side of the law and do the right ethical thing (eye roll and eye gaze look down) so umm..what we’re going to be asking you for before your conference or seminar begins, hopefully a few days or few weeks before if it’s possible, we’re going to need the names of the people we will be interpreting for directly, uh the deaf consumers or hard of hearing consumers, and we’re going to be asking for preparation materials. Umm…we are happy to… sign NDA’s if some of this information is proprietary or confidential. But we do need to see it in order to prepare. Umm… (eye roll, head nod yes with right hand fanned out) yes…umm.. we make interpreting look easy. That’s our job. Interpreting is actually (eye roll) very hard! (laugh) Interpreting is not easy and uh…when you think about the fact that your presenters and your conference coordinators have worked for weeks and even months to prepare this information in the way that they have prepared it and structured it and they have also rehearsed their (phone rings) delivery of presentation (eye gaze down to phone) sorry about my phone there, ummm… you also need to take into account that we (phone rings)…we need to do the same. So we’re going to be asking for those kind of preparation materials. We certainly don’t share them outside of the team of people who are actually working on this assignment, we follow very strict uhh..control policies as far as sharing, deleting, destroy.. (hard swallow – hand on chest) excuse me, destroying them after the fact…ummm… but we do, we do need access to them. It only makes you look better when we are prepared. So…ummm..also if you’re using videos in any part of your presentation…um…have them captioned (Eye roll with face scrunch) if at all possible. It is not legally required if they haven’t been first aired on television, if they were created organically within your organization they have never been aired on television they legally don’t have to be, as of this recording date September 20, 2016, they don’t have to be captioned, but ummm…it makes them so much more watchable. Uhh watching something on a screen..ummm…. (long pause) and … and dropping your eyes down at the interpreter is not ideal and also uhhh typically things that are shown in video format are a much higher word-per-minute than typical..uhh…conversation speed or presentation speed even’s not the…it’s not an ideal message for interpretation. We can do it, certainly. Um..But…when you have the captions and you have an interpreter as back up (head nod and face scrunch with right hand fanned out) that’s kind of a …an ideal combination.
Ummm…so once we’re there what can you expect? You’ve given us our prep materials, we have maintained utter secrecy where necessary and where requested. So once we’re there, we are going to interpret. Uh..we will probably be (pause) in the front of the room, off to the side, uhh some what from the speaker so that the deaf person can see us, see the speaker, see the screen without whipping their head around (shows by demonstrating head whip). Umm…the deaf person is probably going to be sitting in the front, they may not. They may opt to sit in the back or off to the side, it’s really up to them. Umm.. but typically we’ll be in the front. Umm…we interpret all of your remarks, we interpret audience remarks, ummm…we typically for conferences we work in a team because these are longer than two hours and there is typically a very dynamic kind of uh…(hand shake and head nod) relationship between speaker and audience. Ummm… (pause and scratches nose) so we will interpret your sessions, we will interpreter whatever socials you have going on, umm…we interpret soup to nuts. So umm…really that’s pretty much it! Please remember that what we do interpret is confidential. If your event is not..uhh…a public event where umm…nobody has any expectation of privacy like maybe a political rally umm…(eye roll) it’s kind of “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” What happens at your conference, stays at your conference. Umm…(lips smack) there’s really not a lot to worry about with your interpreting services, Just… (pause with eye gaze down) give us what we need beforehand and we’ll be happy. We’ll make you look amazing and uhh…we will do everything we possibly can to make your deaf attendee’s feel great about their experience through our (head back, big smile, arms spread open) amazing interpreting services. So.. if you have any questions, feel free to call us at 720-232-8370 or email us through our contact button right here at Thanks.
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