Faculty Do's and Don'ts While Working with Sign Language Interpreters

The following information can assist faculty in providing effective communications for students who use Sign Language Interpreters in their courses:


  • DO speak directly to the D/deaf student and maintain respectful eye contact.
  • DO speak in your regular tone of voice and at your natural pace. The interpreter will ask you to slow down or clarify if needed.
  • DO make sure the interpreters are present when you communicate with a D/deaf student. Students can request interpreting services for scheduled meetings from DSS by contacting [email protected]. If a student is not sure what to do, please refer them to the DSS.
  • DO provide handouts to the D/deaf student and interpreters prior to the class.
  • DO use sign language interpreters to provide interpreting services in classes or meetings.


  • DO NOT talk to or look at the interpreter as if the D/deaf student isn’t there, or talk about the D/deaf student in the third person (“Tell them…”)
  • DO NOT speak slowly or over-enunciate.
  • DO NOT ask the interpreter to sit next to the D/deaf student or have the interpreter stand at a distance from you.
  • DO NOT assume the D/deaf student can read lips. Even proficient lip readers only get about 35% of what is said; the rest they guess by context.
  • DO NOT ask a student or colleague who knows sign language to act as an interpreter.