The Fashionably Fluent: Interpreting Services at New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is renowned for its glitz, glamour, and global influence, drawing fashion enthusiasts, designers, and industry professionals from around the world. Behind the scenes of this extravagant event, a group of unsung heroes plays a pivotal role in ensuring seamless communication and inclusivity – the interpreters. These language experts work diligently to bridge linguistic barriers, provide cultural sensitivity, and embrace innovative technology to make NYFW a truly accessible and dynamic affair.

Interpreting Services Behind the Scenes

Interpreters at NYFW operate as the invisible force that keeps the fashion machinery running smoothly. From pre-show meetings with designers and backstage interactions to post-event discussions, their presence is indispensable. Their language prowess allows designers, models, and international attendees to communicate effortlessly, enabling the exchange of creative visions, ideas, and inspirations that shape the face of modern fashion.

Bridging Language Barriers on the Catwalk

As models sashay down the runway, the world watches in awe, but what often goes unnoticed are the skilled interpreters positioned strategically at the show. These language maestros break down linguistic barriers during the runway shows, ensuring that everyone present, regardless of their native language, can appreciate the artistry and vision of the designers. Backstage, interpreters foster an inclusive environment, ensuring that models, stylists, and crew members from diverse backgrounds can collaborate effectively and confidently.

Cultural Sensitivity and Fashion

Fashion is more than just fabric and design; it’s a reflection of culture, history, and identity. Interpreters at NYFW understand the significance of cultural competence when providing their services. They cater to diverse audiences, designers, and industry insiders, ensuring that the essence and impact of fashion are preserved and celebrated globally. Their understanding of cultural nuances allows for respectful and meaningful communication between individuals from different backgrounds, fostering a truly inclusive fashion experience.

The Dynamic Duo of Fashion Interpreting

During the fast-paced and high-energy events of NYFW, interpreters often work in pairs – the dynamic duo. These co-interpreters complement each other’s skills, providing real-time translation that keeps up with the swift pace of the fashion world. They work in perfect harmony, ensuring that no crucial detail is missed, and that the essence of the message remains intact across languages.

Last year, interpreters took to the runways of shows by MADE and Runway of Dreams to provide services to a wider audience, furthering the discourse about inclusion in the industry.

Embracing Multilingual Innovation

As technology continues to revolutionize the fashion industry, it also plays a vital role in NYFW’s accessibility. Virtual interpreting services have opened doors for a global audience to witness the fashion extravaganza in real-time, transcending geographical boundaries. Flamingo Interpreting, a leading interpreting services provider, is at the forefront of this multilingual innovation, offering their expertise at runways, fashion pop-ups, activations, and panels. They recognize the importance of ASL interpreting services, as they play a crucial role in making events like NYFW accessible to the disabled community, allowing them to participate fully in this grand celebration of fashion.

In conclusion, the fashionably fluent interpreters at New York Fashion Week are the unsung heroes who ensure that language barriers do not hinder the magic of this iconic event. Through their expert skills, cultural sensitivity, and embracing of innovative technology, they elevate the inclusivity, global reach, and impact of NYFW, making it a true celebration of diversity and creativity in the world of fashion.

Ensuring Success: Preparing Your Event for a Smooth Interpreting Experience

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.

Technical Equipment

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.

How Do I Hire an ASL Interpreter?

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.

Making Accessibility a Priority for the Success of Your Next Event.

When event planners consider accessibility it is usually seen as an accessory to the main event. With so much built into the hosting of an event virtually between schedules, speakers and communication with attendees it is easy to forget how critical accessibility can be to the foundation of an event. For many larger companies, access is about optics and ensuring they are reaching the right people. While this may seem sensible, it ignores the facts that millions of people worldwide live with invisible disabilities and a lack of generally visible access can signal a quiet complicity in removing them from the conversation. It is never the goal of any successful event to reduce participation from attendees. For these reasons, making access a key focus in your event planning will guarantee a stronger and healthier event for years to come. 

First, it’s important to treat accessibility with the respect it deserves.

Access in general should be a key component and those working to provide it in and around the event should be involved in larger discussions of logistics to ensure a smooth delivery come showtime. In the same way disability is woven into every aspect of our world, creating access for those disabilities must be done in the same way. Things as simple as a registration form can easily become inaccessible and remove the ability for many to attend much less participate in the programming. 

Create roles for disability consultancy.

Inviting disabled creators, event planners and attendees to the table in discussions serving to create the event will guarantee that establishing structures that allow everyone equal footing at your event. To that end, it will reduce the chance of needing to fix things in the moment. Essentially, build the boat before you take it to water. Bringing in voices from the community in the earliest stages will ensure that your event is given the careful planning many solutions require. 

Flamingo Interpreting works hand in hand with members of the community in providing consulting services for events both remote and virtually to ensure they are creating the ideal atmosphere for all people. When we work with members of the community, we work to empower them in decision making and offering their influence to create events that become the standard practice for other companies to emulate. That can only be done by working directly with members of the community and supporting their feedback.

Timing is everything.

An event planner with no experience using ASL interpreters for an event in NYC may expect to call an agency a few days prior to opening doors. A Deaf person will tell you that you should plan for at least two weeks, with more time allowing the agency to source the perfect fit. By collaborating with members of the community you can dial into the pulse of services. You will learn how things are scheduled, according to what timelines and key factors to consider before booking. 

Not all services are created equal.

Experts and service users of solutions built for access can better guide you to the most cost effective and impactful options. While there are tons of options virtually there is also a ton of cost cutting, cheap alternatives and all around hack jobs offering solutions that cause more harm than good. You wouldn’t cut corners on the attendee experience in any other arena, don’t allow a cheap price tag fool you into purchasing a service that leaves your attendees wondering what went wrong? Local community members will be best versed in the available options and can guide you to the best services for your budget. 

Lived experience is important.

When working with members of a community you can count on a critical eye that is trained by years of experience. What may seem accessible to an able-bodied person may miss the mark for someone who sees an improved option that would serve someone like them in any given situation. It is solutions like these that brought texting to the wider world – once an idea created within the Deaf community. When we trust members of the larger disability community to create solutions, we create a universal design that supports all attendees. It is always important to sideline bias and assumption to make way for ingenuity coming from experience that may not be our own.

Disability as a community makes up the worlds largest minority. With incredible buying power valued at over 1.8 trillion dollars annually, it would make sense to prioritize a community that often must fight for visibility. In creating access at your event, it’s important to consider that often bringing a seat to the table is not enough. True accessibility only happens authentically, with collaboration, creativity and supporting a community by providing them equal voting power at the table. With these simple practices in play, you are guaranteed an incredible event that will have your attendees excited to register again and again. 

American Sign Language Interpreting at the Academy Awards!

Who’s That Interpreter at the Oscars??

It might have been us!

While we know a thing or two about award shows, there’s simply no amount of practice that can ready an interpreter for the Oscars. The last time we saw an interpreter take the stage was 35 years ago when Marlee Matlin first won her Oscar for her performance in Children of a Lesser God. This year, we dove in to provide accessibility at the Oscars and were thrilled to see talent on the red carpet was well taken care of.

This year was historic and incredible partly due to the incredible interpreting teams that supported projects like CODA & Audible. One of our very own interpreters, Elena Lee was an on-set interpreter for CODA while filming in Glaucester, Mass. Grey Van Pelt, Connor Murray & Richard Loya all contributed to the editing and revisions of Audible with countless other interpreters playing important roles surrounding these projects.

Interpreting on the red carpet!

We had the chance to support some of the interpreting at the Oscars Luncheon, Ted Sarandos’ Oscar toast event and of course the Academy Award ceremony followed by Netflix’s after party at the Bungalows in Beverly Hills followed by Vanity Fair’s afterparty. We truly were everywhere.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – March 27, 2022. Nyle DiMarco and Matt Ogens arrives at the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood on Sunday, March 27, 2022. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

From the red carpet to the stage, it was hard to look anywhere and not see an working sign language interpreter.

Mak McClindon interpreting for Amaree – star of Audible on Netflix & Serena Williams

Our very own Mak McClindon was there every step of the way with the cast of Audible, nominated for Best Short Documentary. Audible is now available streaming on Netflix!

American Sign Language at the Oscars

The interpreters from the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony were truly there to witness history as we saw Sign Language represented in five categories of nominations but also… Troy Katsur winning best supporting actor, making him the second Deaf person to ever win an Oscar and the first Deaf male to ever win an Academy Award.

We saw CODA’s director win best adapted screenplay, based on the French original. A thrilling win for Siân Héder!

We also saw CODA take home the award for best picture, an incredible milestone for the Deaf community.

As Nyle DiMarco has mentioned in numerous interviews – this is a watershed moment. We’re so thrilled to see the landscape of Hollywood begin to shift as more and more Deaf stories are not just being told but being lauded as the incredible content they are.

We’re also thrilled to see an increase in interpreted accessible content in Hollywood. We hope to see more qualified interpreters with an interest in this work, begin to enter the specialty. We also hope more people will learn American sign language from the exciting projects like CODA & Audible.

Become a Certified American Sign Language Interpreter

In order to become a certified American Sign Language interpreter in New York, you’ll need to study the language, the art of interpreting, learn the culture and sit for the certification test. You can do that in 5 steps.

Get an Education

While many folks will insist that a two year program is enough, you’ll need a bachelors if you want to get certified under RID’s current requirements. Four year programs are available through schools like Rochester’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and Gaulladet University in Washington D.C. You can find more on the pricing of these programs here.

Study the Art of Interpreting

You’ll find that a solid program will teach you skills like processing, transliteration, deconstruction and more. With a few years of dedication and hard work, you’ll be able to break down even the most mumbled of messages to produce a clear and effective interpretation.

Learn the Culture

You’ll need to spend time in the Deaf community. You can find Deaf events online and make friends through your program. Within the process, you’ll find a beautiful culture rich with language, artwork and mores unknown to the wider hearing world. While Deaf culture can be incredibly layered and vast, it can also been complex to understand. It’s for this reason we always recommend spending as much time giving back to the community as possible. As we are guests, we always want to maintain a warm and inviting reputation within and without.

Sit for the Test

The newest NIC exam is available through CASLI. You’ll need to pay the fees for the exam which you can read about here, before scheduling the first portion which is the knowledge. Part one of the test is most often referred to within the American Sign Language interpreting industry at the written, followed by the performance exam six months later. While these two exams can be expensive, you’ll see that certified interpreters are able to earn a higher wage along with more respect in the community by many of their colleagues.

A Good Sign Language Interpreting Agency & all the rest.

The difference between a good sign language interpreting agency and all the other ones aren’t always clear.

The search for American Sign Language interpreting or spoken language interpreting services shouldn’t be a difficult one. Yet, plenty of companies currently in business market their translating services as quality enough to hold up in a court room. The reality is, those services are cheap, they’re often well reviewed by their own staff and simply don’t have the quality customer service clients require.

Of course if you’re not a member of the interpreting industry you’re probably not familiar with much of the nuance involved in sourcing high quality and professional services. At Flamingo Interpreting, we like to support our clients in finding services even if they choose another more cost effective provider. While we’ve seen many clients return over the years, we’re never thrilled to hear they’ve had a sub-par experience elsewhere. If you’re looking for the right agency and just not sure what to look for, check out our five top categories to pay attention to. 


Are they proactive in meeting your needs? While it’s common to submit a request with information, it’s more common they follow up with asks for more information including the names of the service users. You don’t have to provide any of this information of course but a good agency will keep an open line of communication with you to ensure that when something does come up, it doesn’t fall through the cracks. 

As an example, we typically get a full idea of what the request specifically will retire before touching base the client when the interpreters is confirmed to exchange contact information. This way, if something comes up specific to the interpretation – you can ensure the party that will be involved is answering the questions. We provide the referral and let you communicate how you see fit. Once confirmed we check in again the day before services are scheduled to double check any changes. 

Prep work

You should expect a great agency to ask you for materials the interpreter can use to prepare their interpretation. If you’re booking a board meeting, they should ask for the agenda. A PTA meeting may call for questions surrounding the topics and relevant notes. A job interview would be best served with the interpreter meeting the interviewer or candidate ahead of time. Most agencies will ask you to always book a couple books out for best results but truly, prep work is king. 

While interpreters are incredible at what they do, they do best in supported environments where all the tools they may need are a their disposal. Often, the best tool in their arsenal is the ability to prepare and embody an interpretation that is clear and effective. 

How do they talk about their interpreters? 

Do they have a personal relationship? 

As an interpreter run company, we only work with colleagues. We’re certainly not the norm. More often than not, the people operating the business are not interpreters. Many coordinators are former interpreters without an active tie to the community. In our world, we focus on fit and comfortability. We work with top quality interpreters, so really we could send anybody but we don’t. We’re not in business to send interpreters to jobs that don’t make sense.

We’re in business to change the industry and help our clients see that when you have the right fit and not just a warm body with an interpreting degree, real magic happens. You can tell this by the way we talk about our people. We’ll ask you questions and give you context for who you’ll be working with in such an intimate capacity. They’re not just another contractor, they’re a colleague with a specific skill set and we’ll help you see how beneficial it can be in your board room. 

What do they specialize in?

Agencies love to service requests for any niche possible. That’s impossible without a massive pool. While generalists do exist, I don’t want a generalist in a speciality they’re not tenured in. To illustrate, imagine having a family physician performing your neurosurgery. You’d absolutely ask for a specialist who has studied the specific arena. Even a neurosurgeon would tell you that within their surgical spectrum there are multiple specialties. We do the same thing with interpreting. While a small insignificant meeting for you may feel like anyone could do it, we care that your best impression is always made with us.

A great agency will be honest and tell you “we don’t do that” and hopefully offer a referral. We work with a handful of partnering agencies we trust and often will refer clients to them for areas we simply don’t work in. We’ve found those clients to be far more successful and retuning to us at a later time because we’ve built a reputation of sending interpreters they can trust. 

Who are they? 

Agencies are made up of people, but their websites are often just icons of the world or a corporate building’s shimmering facade. Find an agency that has people you can talk to and get to know. Those people should be in your corner with every new request and support you long term, a website can’t really do that. When you don’t see any human presence behind the website or social media you’re seeing, it’s a major red flag that they don’t connect with their people, their contracting interpreters or their clients.