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Team Interpreting: What is it and When is it Needed?

Jan 2, 2022 | Business Interpreting

What is Team Interpreting Sign Language?

Associated Interpreters for the Deaf provides ASL interpreting services to US-based businesses. We aim to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf communities in Southwest Florida. When an assignment is particularly challenging, more than one interpreter or a team may be required.

The Role of Team Interpreters

A sign language interpreter’s role is to provide equal access to clear communication. Interpreters use American Sign Language to translate conversations and relay vital information.

A team of ASL interpreters has the same purpose. A team provides specialist interpretation, translation, and transliteration services for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.

Why do I need a team of interpreters?

AIDeaf combines interpreting skills with a real-world understanding of deafness. To reduce frustrating barriers to communication, AIDeaf may appoint more than one interpreter. A team of two or more interpreters often better serves the needs of the deaf or hard of hearing for:


Interpreting is a taxing and mentally strenuous task that requires much preparation. Mental fatigue sets in after only 30 minutes of interpretation. After this time, translation accuracy can deteriorate. By appointing a team, we maintain consistency throughout the entire assignment.

Interpreter Health

According to the Rochester Institute of Technology, interpreting is among the highest-risk professions. Recent publications from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) confirm this. According to RID, ASL interpreters are at risk of Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI).

RSI is a stress-related, cumulative injury resulting from repetitive movements. Studies show that RSI can lead to permanent injuries. These include:

  • Interpreter’s wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Tendonitis
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Tennis elbow

Appointing more than one interpreter helps to reduce the risk of both fatigue and injury. With reduced mental and physical exhaustion, interpreters provide accurate and consistent interpretations.

How does a team of interpreters work together?

Interpreters for the deaf work together and support one another throughout the assignment. Though both interpreters are present during the assignment, only one provides interpretation at any one time. The “off” interpreter is there for support and actively monitors the “on” interpreter to ensure quality as well as provide assistance if the information is missed. By sharing the role, a team maintains a high-quality product.

When will I need to work with a team of interpreters?

We take various factors into account when considering the need for a team of interpreters. While there is no one-size-fits-all, we assess:

The duration of the assignment

As a general rule of thumb, more than one interpreter is appointed for any assignment lasting more than two hours. This helps to maintain both accuracy and consistency throughout the communication. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are many scenarios where shorter sessions may also be appointed a team of interpreters.

The complexity of the assignment and the topics of conversation

Technically complex and emotionally taxing situations are often assigned more than one interpreter. Situations with demanding or challenging topics also need a team. In this case, the length of the assignment can be less than two hours.

Further needs

In some cases, a team of interpreters may be needed to provide the best support to a particular deaf individual. One such case is when English is not the consumer’s native or second language. In this case, an ASL interpreter works alongside a hearing interpreter of their mother tongue. As a team, they work together to enable effective conversation and support.

Team Interpreting Sign Language: A summary

At AIDeaf, we strive to serve the best interests of the deaf community. By assigning team interpreters for more complex assignments, we guarantee accurate and consistent interpretations for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

Have a question about ASL interpreters? Check out our FAQ or get in touch for more information – we’d be more than happy to help!

The goal of Associated Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. is to bridge the communication gap between the hearing and Deaf communities of Southwest Florida by providing qualified interpreters.