Disability Services

Application of Accommodations

Working With Sign Language Interpreters

The following information is presented to facilitate communication between you and any students who use American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting.


  • ASL Interpreters are highly trained professionals who adhere to a code of professional conduct with strict standards of confidentiality, neutrality, professionalism, and respect.
  • ASL Interpreters are present solely to facilitate communication between the Deaf student, instructor, and the class. They translate spoken language into visual language (and vice-versa) to ensure that the Deaf student has equal access to your course.
  • ASL Interpreters do not provide tutoring or any other academic or support services.
  • ASL Interpreters cannot assist with handing out papers or running errands.


  • For in-person courses, the ASL interpreter will find a location where they will stand throughout class so that the ASL interpreter and instructor are both in the Deaf student’s line of sight.
    • Whenever possible, work with ASL interpreters so that they can stand in front of a neutral background, rather than a window or backlit background.
  • For remote/online courses, ASL Interpreters will join all synchronous meeting times and interpret over video.
    • The ASL interpreter will need to have access to join the synchronous meeting link. Do not use the Zoom setting “Authenticated Users Only” for your course meetings, as service providers may be unable to join. Instead, try requiring a passcode that can be shared to all attendees.
    • Keep the Zoom chat available. If the student or ASL interpreter has urgent questions or technology issues during class, this may be the best way for them to reach each other or you.


  • ASL Interpreters are required to interpret everything that is said. Do not ask the ASL interpreter to refrain from interpreting what you say. ASL Interpreters are also required to interpret what the Deaf student says.
  • Speak in your regular tone of voice and at your natural pace. The ASL interpreter will ask you to slow down or clarify if needed.
  • Plan for the interpreter to stand or sit near you so that you and the interpreter are in the Deaf student’s line of sight. Too much distance between you and the ASL Interpreter causes the Deaf student to look back and forth between the instructor and the ASL interpreter, like watching a tennis match.
  • ASL Interpreters often work in teams of two and switch during the class. One ASL interpreter will rest out of the way while the other interprets.
  • Please give copies of the syllabus and handouts to the ASL Interpreters.
    • The ASL interpreters will also be added to your Canvas course as DRC Service Providers. This allows them to smoothly get basic course information and updates as needed, which improves the service they provide.
  • Speak directly to the Deaf student. If you need to address an ASL interpreter directly, start with “Interpreter, ….” and be aware that the ASL interpreter will interpret the conversation.
  • When the ASL interpreter speaks, they are voicing what the Deaf student is saying. Keep your eyes on the Deaf student; the ASL interpreter is not a participant in the conversation, but may ask for clarification, or for someone to repeat what is said on occasion to ensure accurate interpreting.
  • While a Deaf student may or may not speak themselves, it is not appropriate to ask them to speak.