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ASL-English Interpreter / Captionist / Transcriber Handbook

Classroom Guidelines

  1. First week of class: It is important to arrive early the first week of class. This allows the interpreter to introduce themselves, explain the interpreter's role and discuss seating arrangements. This is also the time to meet the student and become acquainted with their signing style, and any specialized signs they may prefer to use for that class. The interpreter should acquire a syllabus for every class in order to stay apprised of the schedule. REMEMBER: this first meeting with the instructor and DHH student is the Interpreter's/Captionists' chance to establish a good working relationship. This is also a good time to ask the instructor about any possible films or movies for the semester in order to have Closed Captioning set up in advance.
  2. Exams & Tests: When a test is scheduled, at least one interpreter is needed and should remain for the test day. On the day of the exam, instructors may make announcements about the test material, explain corrections on the test, or give advice on how to answer certain questions. The student may have a question as well, so the interpreter should be present. If an agreement is made between the student and the instructor that an interpreter is not needed for a particular test day, please inform the Interpreter Coordinator. NOTE: As the Interpreter/Captionist in the class, you are required to inform the Interpreter Coordinator about any change in the class schedule.

  • Test Center Accommodations

The Testing Center is responsible for administering all tests for DSP&S students who are approved for test accommodations (i.e. extended test time). Students who wish to use this accommodation must make an appointment with the Testing Center in advance for all tests. If the DHH student would like to have an accommodation that includes having an interpreter interpret test questions in depth, he/she must make an appointment with the DHH Specialist to discuss this request. All interpreted tests are conducted at the Testing Center. Do not accompany a DHH student to the library or some other separate area to interpret test questions, even if an instructor gives permission.

If you are asked during an in-class test from a DHH student to briefly interpret a written test question, please clarify/interpret the question with instructor involvement. This avoids the perception that the interpreter is collaborating to help the DHH student cheat.

  • Finals:

DHH students are required to inform DSP&S of their final schedule two weeks in advance. DHH students who do not communicate their interpreting needs in advance will not have interpreting services the week of finals. The final class typically only meets ONE time during the final exam week. Some instructors may change the date of the final or chose to have two class sessions. Please keep the Interpreter Coordinator apprised of any announced changes. If the class requires two interpreters throughout the semester, both interpreters will be assigned for the final test day.

  1. Classroom Questions: Quite often instructors or hearing students will ask you, the interpreter, questions about interpreting ASL signs, or inquire about the DHH student. If the Deaf student is present, then direct the question to him or her. If the DHH student is not there or not paying attention, all information about the student is to be kept confidential.


An example of a frequently asked question:

"Do you work with (Student) all the time? How is s/he doing in this class?"

Possible responses the interpreter can use for questions:

"I not able to answer that question, but I would be happy to interpret if you would like to ask the student directly."

"I am sorry. I am not at liberty to say."

"I don't see the student outside of this class."

"I am not able to discuss that information. The DSP&S office could probably answer that question better."

  1. Physical Set-up: The interpreter should position in the best location where the DHH student can see the instructor and the interpreted message. Be mindful that some instructors become very intimidated and uncomfortable with an interpreter right up front. Be tactful and explain why you must be seated in the front in order for the DHH student to have a clear "line of sight" for all pertinent information. If your classroom happens not to have a chair please check other classrooms nearby (this is a good job for the team interpreter). Contact the Interpreter Coordinator to request that chair(s) be put in the classroom.
  • During a class wherein the lecturer moves temporarily to a different part of the room, or where a video and visual aids are being used, the interpreter should consider relocating to the spot of the activity. This ensures that the deaf student has continued access to all information that is happening fluidly. Ask the student what works best.
  • It is the interpreter's responsibility to make sure lighting is adequate at all times. Be mindful of being seated in front of bright windows. When videos or TV programs are shown, work out an arrangement with the instructor to have lighting. Use any available low-lighting means from projectors, computer screens, or a door slightly open. If you are continually struggling with improper lighting in dark classrooms from videos or power point presentations and cannot resolve the issue with the instructor, please contact the Interpreter Coordinator.
  • When interpreting on a platform, remember to limit fingerspelling and use larger sign production.
  1. Closed Captioning Accommodations: In the beginning of the semester, be sure to ask the instructor about any possible classroom movies or films to be shown. Please direct the instructor to Instructional Media Services ext.7375 for any Closed Captioning (CC) questions or needs. If a movie is presented last minute with unknown captioning, feel free to dial ext.7374 from any classroom black phone for a media tech person to come out immediately. If videos are shown in class continually without (CC), please contact the Interpreter Coordinator immediately.
  2. Interpreter/Provider Schedules: If a scheduling error occurs, please direct all students to call/text the Interpreter Coordinator at DSP&S to resolve any problems. Please follow your schedule and do not allow a student to demand interpreting services that deviate from your confirmed schedule. This excludes campus emergencies or health emergencies at the Health Services Center. Direct the student to contact the Interpreter Coordinator for all other interpreting requests.
  3. Technical/Specialized Vocabulary: When interpreting a class with unfamiliar vocabulary, check with the Interpreter Coordinator for some helpful materials located at DSP&S from previous classes. If any materials are handed out in class, please turn these into DSP&S for future interpreters. Let the Interpreter Coordinator know if text books or prep time are needed.
Last Updated: 11/26/2014
  • GCCCD
  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District