Every event is different and when providing American Sign Language Interpreting services, many questions can arise. If it’s your first time procuring services for an event, navigating the intricacies of access can often be daunting. Working with experts in the field, you’ll find that much like many other vendors you’ll work with; interpreting services can be quite straight forward. We’ve compiled a few pointers for you below in creating a seamless and accessible event for your Deaf/Hard of Hearing attendees.
Understanding Interpreting Needs
First, you’ll need to identify the necessity of interpreters at your event. Often this is a direct access from an attendee who will be utilizing the services during your event. However, many events prefer what we refer to in the industry as “open access”. This means providing interpreting services across stages, workshops, one on one sessions and more. With this model, your attendees do not need to self disclose nor do they need to request services ahead of time as they’re already built into the event from the beginning.
Early Planning and Coordination
It’s crucial to plan ahead when providing services as often interpreters are booked for weeks in advance. Many agencies rely on a two week scheduling block system. This means that interpreters are often booked out and unable to accommodate new requests with less than 14 days notice. While this isn’t the case with Flamingo, we do often tell our clients to plan ahead for specific requests or niche expertise asks as our interpreters are in high demand in the industry.
Planning ahead can look different for every event. We personally prefer to work with our clients as soon as they know the event will be happening as we are often able to hold interpreters schedule preventing you from losing a specific team you might need. A simple heads up is quite easy for us to work with and requires no down payment with enough lead time.
Clear Communication With Interpreters is Key.
We work with our interpreters in establishing effective communication channels, including briefing them about the event agenda, speakers, and specialized terminology. The sooner we can get access to any materials you might have that we can use to prepare, the better. Our interpreters love to read and review materials as far ahead of time as possible but even last minute can be incredibly beneficial. It’s all about ensuring access whenever possible.
Our team will work with you in exchanging contact information in addition to setting up directions for interpreters to find their credentials, meet with their on-site contact and find their set up without issue. We love to see seamless events happen and while we may have quite a few questions, each ask is in service of supporting you. Feel free to send over any materials including draft schedules as they become available!
Venue & Seating Considerations
We will work with you in strategically arranging interpreters’ locations for optimal visibility and audibility, considering sightlines and the audience’s perspective. Our team will provide you with guides and checklists alleviating the additional leg work on your end. With our simple recipe, you’ll find that creating accessible seating arrangements and ensuring proper visibility is a breeze.
Verifying all equipment the interpreting team may need is in proper working order is often a step that is overlooked during tech checks. It’s important that interpreters have the time to ensure the tools they will be utilizing during the interpreting process are in great shape. We want to be sure that there won’t be any audio issues during the event that could have been avoided ahead of time had a tech check been done.
Often interpreters will make time the day before or prior to the event to arrive for a tech check. During this time they can often consult on visibility and seating arrangements to reduce the chance of any surprises when attendees arrive.
Breaking & Downtime
While interpreters certainly are incredible, they’re not machines and like any other human require breaks. In teams of two we can expect that interpreters are able to provide services for longer without as many breaks however they will still need some downtime. We typically recommend teams of 3 for sessions lasting between 2 hours and a full day.
Interpreting as a craft requires incredible focus and to maintain a solid performance, the brain needs adequate rest. While it may not be in the forefront of considerations, from the perspective of your language team breaks are critical for the superior product your attendees deserve.
Feedback and Post Event Evaluation
It’s important to gather feedback from interpreters and event participants to identify areas of improvement and enhance future interpreting experiences. Many event planning professionals will share their experience in missing pain points due to the inability to glean better solutions from their attendees. Interpreters are at the front line of your event working directly with your attendees and are truly experts in what makes an event accessible. To provide the best possible experience for future events, don’t discount their expertise and consider reaching our directly or with a form to gain their insight.