Events, productions, education, medical, and so many other parts of the happenings in our day to day lives are for everyone, and if they’re not, they should be! There’s no argument that the best plan of action in any situation is to make sure all information is available to all Deaf/Hard of Hearing/Deaf-Blind (DHHDB) present through ASL interpreting services. But how can you go about providing this?
Step One- The Service Provider
The first step in providing any services to the DHHDB community is figuring out who to partner with to provide services for whatever your needs are. First, make sure you know what you’re looking for, i.e. if the event will be in person or remote. If services are needed in person, search around for agencies in your area through internet searches, referrals of colleagues or entities that have worked with interpreters before in similar settings, and you can even ask the person or group needing services if they have a preferred interpreter or agency they wish to work with. Take it one step further and check out reviews, community buzz, and see if the services providers you’re interested in specialize in the specific type of content for which you’ll be providing access to make sure it’s a good fit. On the other hand, when it comes to virtual events, you can cast your net a little wider and really reach out feelers for an agency like ours Flamingo Interpreting or individual who meets your needs on an even more specific level with a wider range of availability without the confines of a geographical location.
Step Two- Provide Details
Okay, so you’ve found your perfect fit! Great! Now what? The answer is tell them everything you can about your event. Give more details than you think you need to and then don’t be afraid to ask questions to discover if there are more you can still give. To give some bare minimum suggestions, you should of course provide the date and start/end times of your event, the event title, what the event will entail, location (whether the address or link to a virtual meeting room or webinar), a contact person with details on how best to reach them, and if there will be any notable speakers or specific participants needing the services. It’s also best practice to provide information on whether or not the event will be live streamed or recorded, and if these things will be available to the public or only provided to those within your organization or for reference. This will let the service providers know in case this affects any changes in fees and documents needed to clear any legal liabilities such as image releases or non-disclosure agreements.
Step Three- Prepping the Interpreters
You’ve done it! Found your service provider and gave them everything they needed to know, and now you have the interpreter(s) confirmed for your event! But, that’s not the end of the list. Now we need to provide the interpreter(s) with any information they can use to prepare (or “prep”) for your event. The more information that can be passed on to the service providers before your event, and the earlier this can be provided, the better. This ensures that there will be little to no hiccups, surprises, or communication breakdowns needed for things to run as smoothly as possible for all participants. The list of what can be provided is pretty endless, and you may be surprised at what can help. Anything from lists of names of speakers, presenters, or important participants with bios to show schedules, written speeches, or even lists of potential technical vocabulary can be a huge help. This ensures the interpreter(s) has the time to become familiar with the content, as well as research or practice anything they may need to fine tune before being in the heat of the moment in the middle of a large speech or presentation. It’s also important to send over anything the interpreter(s) may need as far as information about the event itself or venue, including details parking, where to enter the building, which room or floor to go to, who they may need to meet on-site or check in with once they arrive, and/or any credentials or security measures they may need to acquire or may encounter before being able to access the venue. If virtual, they may need to set up a specific type of platform that’s less common or specific to your organization, or have specific passwords or responsibilities once entering the meeting or webinar. All of this should be provided beforehand so the service providers can know what to do, where to go, and what to be ready for.
Step Four- Prepare the Location
You have your service provider, you’ve passed along all the details and information you can, and now it’s time to handle things on your side as well. Keep in mind that having an interpreter may add one or two important changes to the logistics of your event. Make sure that there’s a designated safe and visible place for the interpreter(s) to stand and perform their work. Make sure they will have access to any audio they may need to hear from mics or performers, especially in larger venues where acoustics must be heavily controlled. In addition, this is where you must take in the needs of the participants needing services. Maybe if you have a large audience, you’ll need to designate an area close to the interpreter space for participants to be able to see clearly, or will need to set up a special meeting with the AV team on site to make sure there will be an extra camera projecting the interpreter on the larger screen or picture-in-picture as well.This would also be the time to check that the interpreter(s) have access to any inner ears/monitors/teleprompters/etc. that they may need.
Step Five- Payment
Ah, the money part. The part that is necessary yet maybe the most unfun. This part of the process will largely depend on the individual or agency providing your services. The important thing to know here is to be aware of the payment policies of the service providers, as well as if the organization you’re representing has any financial stipulations of their own. Typically, there will be a contract signed by both parties that outlines the parameters of payment, including the total fees to be paid, time period in which payment must be made or an invoice/purchase order must be delivered, and which methods of payment are available and accepted. Sometimes smaller events or one-time situations require payment in advance. Sometimes this is also true for new clients as you establish a trusted working relationship. The best advice for payment is to make sure you know what has been set and agreed upon by both parties in the contract, as well as who the financial contacts are on both sides of the agreement, and who will be the one responsible for paying for the organization you’re representing, whether yourself or an accounts payable department.
Step Six- Spreading the Word
In the world of today with unlimited free and paid advertisements all around us on social media, websites, video ads, and the “old school” methods of printed and billboard advertising, spreading the word of your event is always an important step for any event that will be shared with the public or a specific group. The important point worth mentioning here is not to forget to make all of these accessible for your audience as well. Make sure you’re captioning or providing interpretations for your videos, crediting the correct parties for content and following any provisions about advertising written in the contracts, and advising the appropriate groups of participants that you will in fact be making your event accessible to them. This step can really go anywhere in the process preceding your event, and although sadly often forgotten or ignored, is one of most important pieces of making your event overall wildly successful.