All inclusive disabilities displayed Accessibility Information & Resources

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October 2020 

Working with Sign Language Interpreters: Some Helpful Hints

  • Before the event, whenever possible, share any notes, outlines, handouts, and uncaptioned movies with the interpreters in advance.  Also, share speakers’ names, acronyms, and other specialized terminology that will be used.
  • Line of Sight.  Position the interpreter(s) near the speaker(s). Provide seating for the deaf or hard of hearing individual(s) with a clear line of sight to the interpreter(s).
  • Provide appropriate lighting for the interpreter at all times. If you plan to turn down the lights during the assignment, remember to leave enough lighting on the interpreter.
  • Treat the interpreters as professionals. The interpreter is not a personal assistant for the deaf individual, and should only be asked to facilitate communication.
  • Look and speak directly to the deaf or hard-of-hearing individual. Look at the person who is deaf or hard of hearing when signing or speaking to them through an interpreter. Do not speak to the interpreter directly.  This may feel awkward at first since the message is coming through the interpreter.
  • Address the deaf or hard of hearing individual directly:
    • Appropriate: “What is your name?”
    • Inappropriate: “Ask her what her name is?”
  • Sign/speak at the normal tone and pace. The interpreter will tell you if you need to pause or slow down. 
    • In addition, give the interpreter time to finish so that the deaf or hard of hearing person can ask questions or join the discussion.
  • Permit only one person to speak at a time during group discussions. It is difficult for an interpreter to follow several people speaking at once. Ask for a brief pause between speakers to permit the interpreter to finish before the next speaker starts. It can be helpful to ask people to raise their hands and wait to speak after they have been recognized. Also, it is appropriate etiquette for effective communication for each participant to state her or his name before speaking so a deaf-blind individual will know who is talking.
  • Relax. If you are unsure of the appropriate way to proceed in a particular situation, just ask.

Information in this guide is based on the following:

How to Make Your Meeting Accessible

All inclusive disabilities displayedAccessible Meeting Guide

Additional Resources

  • Accessibility
    • MD Relay, Communication Services
      711 (TTY users)
    • The Hearing & Speech Agency
    • Childhood Speech and Language Center 

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  • Advocacy
    • Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (Federal Housing)
      (410) 243-4400
    • Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (Tenants/Landlords) 

    • Community Relations Commission
      (410) 396-3141
    • Parents' Place of Baltimore
      (410) 859-5300
    • Families Involved Together
      (410) 235-5222
    • MD Center for Independent Living
      (410) 444-1400

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  • Children's Services
    • Developmental Disabilities Administration Central MD Regional Office
    • MD Infants & Toddlers Program
      (410) 767-0261
    • School Health
      (410) 396-3185

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  • Disabled Parking
    • Reserved Residential Parking (Baltimore City)
    • Tags and Parking Permits-MVA (Maryland)
      (800) 950-1682

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  • Education

    Baltimore City Public School System (City Schools Connect)
    (410) 396-8700

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  • Employment & Job Skill Development
    • Employment & Training Division, Labor Licensing and Regulation
      (410) 767-2000
    • Office of Employment Development
      (410) 396-3009

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  • Equipment
    • MD Technology Assistance Program
    • National Federation of the Blind
      (410) 659-9314
    • The Workforce & Technology Center
      (410) 554-9385
    • Maryland Relay
    • Maryland Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program
      800-825-4595 | TTY: 888-320-2656

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  • Housing

    Housing & Community Development
    (410) 396-5000

    Housing Authority of Baltimore City

    Rental listings in Baltimore Area

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  • Legal Services

    Maryland Disability Law Center
    (410) 727-6352

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  • Library Services
    • Enoch Pratt Free Library - Central Library
      (410) 396-5430
    • State Library For The Blind And Physically Handicapped
      (410) 230-2424

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  • Medical and Health Care
    • Baltimore City Health Department
      (410) 396-4398
    • Baltimore Mental Health Systems
      (410) 837-2647
    • Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems INC
      (410) 637-1900

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  • Recreation
    • Recreation & Parks
      (410) 396-7900
    • Therapeutic Recreation
      (410) 396-1550

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  • Rehabilitation
    • League for People with Disabilities
      (410) 323-0500
    • Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)
      (410) 554-9442

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  • Social Service
    • Department of Social Services
      (410) 378-4600
    • Resource and Support
      (443) 423-4000
    • Adult Services
      (443) 423-6612
    • Homeless Services
      (410) 396-3757
    • U.S. Social Security Administration
      (800) 772-1213
    • Child Protective Services
      (410) 361-2235

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  • Transportation
    • Mass Transit Administration-Information Line
      (410) 539-5000
    • Mobility

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