During a demonstration and explanation, it is important for you to realise that the interpreter will be standing very near to you as well as to whatever you are demonstrating.  It is important that you maintain an awareness of the interpreter during a demonstration.  This is because the interpreting process means that the interpreter will be between 2-10 seconds behind what you are saying and you will need to monitor the communication flow through the interpreter so that you do not begin to demonstrate before the interpretation has been completed.

In part, this is why, when you have a deaf student, it is recommended that you explain whatever the process is, then demonstrate and then explain again.  It is advantageous if you work with the interpreter to develop cues that allow you to know when the interpretation is complete and once you get the cue, then demonstrate.  Another way to manage this is to actually watch the eyes of your deaf student to see when s/he breaks eye contact with the interpreter and shifts focus to what will be demonstrated.  At that time, begin demonstrating.  Once done, wait until your deaf student re-establishes eye contact with the interpreter before speaking again.

It will assist the interpreter if you could:

  • provide the interpreter with a briefing of the content and aim(s) of the demonstration,
  • provide the interpreter with a copy of any handouts that support the demonstration,
  • if possible, email the interpreter in advance soft copies of any notes and/or any subject specific jargon – this will allow the interpreter to prepare prior to the class,
  • manage any student/teacher interaction in such a way that turn-taking is clear and that only one person speaks at a time

Click here to download a deafConnectEd information sheet on working with interpreters.


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