SLC WA Frequently Asked Questions


1. Why do I need to provide the Deaf person’s name and their preferred interpreter?

SLC WA aims to provide the most appropriate match between interpreter and client and to ensure the right of Deaf people to have access to interpreters of their choice and someone who meets their specific needs.

The following criteria will be used by SLC WA, when allocating an interpreter, to ensure appropriate access:

a) The availability of the client’s interpreter of choice.

b) The level of competence, including accreditation level of the interpreter, their ability, skills and experience.

c) The general education level of the interpreter, interpersonal skills, professionalism, presentation, personality, gender, relationship with the client/s, work history, suitability to work in a tandem team if working with a fellow interpreter, any opposing beliefs or values, and life experience

d) The relevant qualifications for the job, including: level of NAATI accreditation, previous history, educational background and knowledge of the subject will be considered when booking assignments, along with expressed service user preferences.

Interpreters will not be booked to work for family members, except in public events with group attendance and / or in situations where a tandem Interpreter will also be used. These circumstances will always be at the discretion of the Manager, Interpreting Services.

Deaf clients are requested to provide three names of preferred interpreters, to ensure that they are receiving a service with which they feel comfortable. Every effort will be made to provide the interpreter of their choice; however the officer in charge at the time is responsible for the final delegation. Wherever possible, all clients will be informed in advance of their interpreter’s name.

At short notice or in emergencies, it may not be possible to provide clients with their preferred interpreter, or in this instance, the most appropriate interpreter for the job. 

2. What is a Deaf Interpreter?

A Deaf Interpreter (DI) is a native or near-native user of Auslan who is Deaf or hard of hearing and is qualified as an Interpreter. Consumers benefit from a specialised DI when they are Deaf and: 

  • Use idiosyncratic non-conventional signs or gestures such as those commonly referred to as “home signs” which are unique to a family or original village community.
  • Have a cognitive disability (mild or more severe) or multiple disabilities that compromise communication and result in dysfluency.
  • Are linguistically and/or socially isolated with limited conventional language proficiency.
  • Are Deaf and blind or Deaf with low vision, using tactile or visually modified sign language.
  • Use signs particular to a given region, ethnic or age group that are inaccessible by other qualified interpreters, for example Indigenous Deaf people.
  • Are experiencing complex trust issues where cultural sensitivity/comfort factor is paramount, for example, trauma counselling.
  • Use a foreign sign language and there are no accredited or qualified foreign sign language interpreters available.
  • Are users of a pidgin or contact variety of sign languages or a common international lingua franca known as “International Sign”.

When the need for a DI is identified, the DI works as part of a team with a hearing Auslan interpreter. The two interpreters work together to connect the hearing and Deaf consumers like links in a chain. The Auslan interpreter works between English and Auslan, with the DI bridging the gap between Auslan and the Deaf consumer’s particular communication style.

3. Why do I need 2 interpreters?

Research has shown that mental fatigue in interpreters drastically reduces the accuracy of the interpreted message. Studies have found that that the longer the interpreting task, the greater number of errors were produced, mostly omissions. Sign language interpreting is a high demand occupation, one where the physical and cognitive strains are numerous and dynamic, and arise from complex linguistic, environmental, interpersonal and intrapersonal factors.

When one interpreter is allocated to an assignment, they will require a 10 minute break during every working hour.

When 2 interpreters are required for an assignment they will alternate every 15 – 20 minutes. This is necessary to:

  • Ensure continual flow of accurate information
  • Reduce interpreter fatigue
  • Reduce the likelihood of Occupational Overuse Injuries (OOI’s).

Bookings of 1 hour or greater duration may require the allocation of 2 interpreters, depending on the nature, density and intensity of the information being delivered. 

4. Why should I use SLC WA?

SLC WA prides itself on providing a professional, culturally sensitive service to Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people. Individuals and organisation’s booking through SLC WA can be confident they are receiving the highest quality service.

The benefits of booking with SLC WA are:

  • Only NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) accredited and recognised interpreters who agree to abide by the ASLIA (Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association) Code of Ethics are employed.
  • SLC WA interpreters are required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • SLC WA interpreters have National Police and Working with Children clearances.
  • SLC WA interpreters are covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance and Worker’s Compensation Cover.
  • SLC WA has both male and female interpreters on its registry at both Professional Interpreter level and Paraprofessional Interpreter level.
  • SLC WA has NAATI Recognised Deaf Interpreters on its registry.
  • Comprehensive Quality Assurance procedures are in place.
  • SLC WA office staff have local knowledge of Deaf relationships which assists in avoiding conflicts of interest between interpreters, hearing and Deaf clients.
  • SLC WA interpreters and office staff have a sound knowledge of Deaf culture.
  • SLC WA office staff will liaise closely with Deaf and hearing clients to provide the most appropriate interpreter (Deaf clients are encouraged to nominate their preferred interpreters for each assignment).

5. Why do I need to provide preparation materials to the interpreter?

Booking organisations want their information and knowledge to be communicated to consumers and expect the interpreter to do this accurately; this requires preparation. No doubt the speaker has prepared what they are going to say and how they are going to present the information. This preparation is equally important for the interpreter as it allows the interpreter to be able to see how the speaker intends to structure the discourse and allows them to become familiar with any technical terms, acronyms, jargon etc.

Here are some ways to assist with an interpreter’s preparation:

  • Provide written materials to the interpreter ahead of time
  • Give the interpreter access to any power point slides being used in the session.
  • Provide complimentary textbooks to the interpreter
  • Make sure video clips are captioned or send a copy to the interpreter.

The benefits of an interpreter preparing for an assignment:

  • An interpreter who is fully briefed and prepared for an assignment will provide a more fluent and accurate interpretation than one who is not.
  • An interpreter who is fully briefed and prepared for an assignment is less likely to interrupt the speaker to seek clarification.
  • An interpreter who is fully briefed and prepared for an assignment will experience less stress and muscle tension thereby reducing the risk of injury.
  • A positive outcome is experienced by all consumers.
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