sign language interpreters

Sign Language Interpretation at Conferences

Sign language interpretation plays a key role to support the accessibility and inclusivity of live and streamed events. This article is in partnership with Day Translations.

Sign Language Interpretation at Conferences

Sign language interpreters are often present at conferences and their work is valuable on many levels, as it not only ensures people of different abilities can take part and engage with the content of presentations, but it is also represents a strong signal of commitment for companies and organisations regularly offering sign language.

Sign language interpreters work in short shifts and they rotate alternating work and breaks.

How To Train as a Sign Language Interpreter

Each country has its own career journey for candidates and generally speaking it all starts with a degree (three to four years) in Deaf Studies and interpreting (Ireland), American Sign Language (USA), British Sign Language and interpretation (UK), with shorter qualification process in Australia for example as the minimum requirement is a two year Diploma in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) plus passing a series of exams and registration with a national sign language association.

Sign Language Conference Interpreting

The sign language specialist normally faces the audience at live events and, during streamed events, they will appear on a corner of the screen alongside each speaker.

By being visible and having proximity to the speaker and any presentation slides, the sign language professional allows viewers with hearing difficulties to understand the content of presentations and be involved in the event, particularly during workshops and breakout groups. It is often recommended to also offer written captions for the presentations.

At times even sign language needs interpreting into another language: for example, in EU institutions there are special arrangements in place to provide interpretation from one sign language to another sign language.

How Many Sign Languages Are There in The World?

According to the UN, there are approximately 300 sign languages worldwide and each has its own rules and structure. It has been reported that about 70 million people in the world are deaf, the majority of whom live in developing countries.

Countries around the world need to treat sign language as any other language and therefore make arrangements for provide sign language interpretation when requested and necessary.

How Much Do Sign Language Interpreters Earn?

Qualified professional sign language interpreters make on average more than 30 euros or 30 dollars an hour depending on experience. In the UK sign language interpreters make just over £25,000 per year on average. Compared to the annual salary of sign language interpreters in Germany, who make just under 40,000 euro per year as a starting salary and 50,000 euro on average annually, it is interesting to see how much variation there is across countries.

In the EU alone there are about 750,000 people whose first language is sign language, there are 31 official sign languages and 6,600 sign language interpreters whose role is to make the work of European institutions in conferences and events accessible to a wider audience as well as show commitment to multilingualism.

Additionally, some conferences use International Sign, a combination of the most common signs in English language from different English-speaking countries. It is required to have a basic knowledge of English sign language to understand International Sign.