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Optimizing ASL Interpreters for Virtual Events, Meetings, or Webinars:

Strategies and Tips


In the age of remote work and virtual communication, ASL interpreters play a critical role in ensuring that the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community can participate in virtual events, meetings, and webinars. Here are some strategies and tips for optimizing the use of ASL interpreters:


1. Test technology and equipment beforehand

Before the event, it's important to test the technology and equipment with the interpreter to ensure that everything is working smoothly. This includes checking the video and audio quality, internet connection, and webcam position. It's also essential to ensure that the interpreter has access to the necessary software or platform used for the virtual event with enough time to troubleshoot before starting.


2. Provide the interpreter with the agenda or script

Providing the interpreter with the agenda or script beforehand will enable them to prepare and familiarize themselves with the content of the event. This will ensure that the interpreter can provide accurate and clear translations to the Deaf or hard-of-hearing attendees. In addition, it will allow the interpreter to anticipate any technical jargon or acronyms that may be used during the event.


3. Optimize the video layout

In virtual events, it's crucial to optimize the video layout to ensure that the interpreter is visible to all attendees. It's recommended to place the interpreter's video feed in a prominent position on the screen, ideally in a separate window or tile. This will allow attendees to focus on the interpreter's signing without distractions.


4. Allow time for interpretation

It's essential to allow sufficient time for the interpreter to provide translations during the event. This means allowing for pauses after each speaker and scheduling extra time if necessary. It's also crucial to remind speakers to speak clearly and at a moderate pace, as this will enable the interpreter to keep up with the conversation.


5. Consider multiple interpreters for longer events

For longer events such as conferences or webinars, it may be necessary to have multiple interpreters to avoid fatigue and ensure accuracy. Consider rotating interpreters to ensure that they are fresh and alert throughout the event.


6. Use the "raise hand" or any notification features

In virtual events, the "raise hand" or similar features can be used to facilitate communication between the Deaf or hard-of-hearing attendees and the interpreter. Attendees can use this feature to ask the interpreter questions or request clarification. This will ensure that the interpreter can provide personalized translations and that all attendees can participate equally.


7. Allow for feedback and evaluation

After the event, allow for feedback and evaluation from the interpreter and attendees. This will enable you to identify any areas for improvement and ensure that future events are even more accessible and inclusive.


Using Zoom for ASL Interpretation


Zoom in particular is a popular platform for virtual events, meetings, and webinars, and it offers several features that can optimize the use of ASL interpreters. Here are some tips for using Zoom for ASL interpretation:


1. Enable ASL interpretation

To enable ASL interpretation on Zoom, the host or co-host can go to the "Closed Caption" settings and select "Enable live transcription service". Then they can select the ASL interpreter and enable the "Show Subtitle" feature. This will display the interpreter's video feed and translations to all attendees.


2. Pin the interpreter's video feed

The host or co-host can also pin the interpreter's video feed to ensure that it is visible to all attendees at all times. To do this, they can hover over the interpreter's video feed and click the "..." icon, then select "Pin video".


3. Customize closed captions

Zoom allows hosts or co-hosts to customize the appearance of the closed captions, including font size, color, and background. This can be helpful for attendees who prefer larger fonts or have color preferences.


4. Zoom’s "raise hand" feature

Zoom's "raise hand" feature can be used to facilitate communication between the Deaf or hard-of-hearing attendees and the interpreter. Attendees can use this feature to ask the interpreter questions or request clarification. This can be done by clicking the "Raise Hand" icon in the Zoom toolbar.


5. Record the event

Zoom's recording feature allows the event to be recorded for future reference. This can be helpful for attendees who may have missed some parts of the event or want to review the content later. The closed captions and ASL interpretation will also be recorded along with the event.


By utilizing these features on Zoom, hosts and co-hosts can optimize the use of ASL interpreters for virtual events, meetings, or webinars. This will ensure that the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community can participate fully and equally in the event.


ASL interpreters are essential for making virtual events, meetings, and webinars accessible to the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. By optimizing the use of interpreters, hosts and co-hosts can ensure effective communication and create a more inclusive and welcoming virtual environment. With the right strategies and tools, virtual events can be just as accessible and inclusive as in-person events.


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