Auslan-English interpreters are very familiar with working as part of an interpreting team, most frequently working in pairs as a tandem interpreter. Tandem interpreting teams are used when the scheduled interpreting assignment is greater than two hours or sometimes for lesser periods of time if the content and/or setting is complex or dynamic in nature.
Emerging more in Australia is the use of interpreting teams that are made up of Auslan-English interpreters and Deaf Interpreters. Most of the time, assignments requires a pair, working together (i.e. one Auslan-English interpreter and one Deaf Interpreter) in tandem. Some of the time – for example, Conference interpreting – the interpreting team is comprised of multiple Auslan-English interpreters as well as multiple Deaf Interpreters.
The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) now includes Deaf Interpreter (DI) Recognition as a part of its processes. ASLIA recommends using DIs who have NAATI recognition.
Deaf Interpreters are Deaf individuals who are native [defined in the sign language research field as a fluent language user prior to the age of seven], or near native, users of Auslan. DIs also have fluency in English and often have familiarity with at least one foreign sign language. They use this wide linguistic knowledge base to work with individuals who, for whatever reason, are not able to adequately access standard Auslan through an Auslan-English interpreter.
The types of situations where DIs and Auslan-English interpreters will work as a team include, but are not limited to, working with Deaf people who:
• use idiosyncratic, non-standard signs or gestures such as those commonly referred to as “home signs” which are unique to a family or original village community
• have a cognitive disability (mild or more severe) or multiple disabilities that compromise communication and result in dysfluency
• have been linguistically and/or socially isolated with limited conventional language proficiency
• also have a significant vision impairment and uses tactile or visually modified sign language
• uses signs particular to a given region, ethnic or age group that are inaccessible by other qualified interpreters, for example Indigenous Deaf people
• are experiencing complex trust issues where cultural sensitivity/comfort factor is paramount, for example, trauma counselling
• use a foreign sign language and there are no accredited or qualified foreign sign language interpreters available
• uses of a pidgin or contact variety of sign languages or a common international lingua franca known as “International Sign”(I.S.)
• have come together for a conference or major event – for example, the Deaflympics – where participants are using multiple sign languages