Package Insert 39
Interesting facts and figures for customers and partners of mt-g.
November 2016
In the spotlight
Sign language interpreting
Sign language interpreters are few and far between and you seldom encounter them, even though there are around 80,000 deaf people living in Germany who are dependent on sign language. Those who are not deaf probably encounter sign language interpreters most frequently on the television: The news is regularly interpreted on special events and documentary channels and is therefore an important institution for deaf people, allowing them to receive up-to-date information.

Through their work, these interpreters convey spoken information to deaf people, who would otherwise only receive this information with difficulty, if at all. The occasions for sign language interpreters are just as diverse as they are for interpreters for those who are not deaf: For example, they interpret at works meetings or general assemblies, in lectures or at public events. This allows deaf people attending these events to follow the speech without having to rely on lip-reading or similar alternatives. Conversely, if a deaf person wants to participate, the sign language interpreter interprets the sign language for those present who are not deaf and who are usually not proficient in sign language.

Incidentally, there is not "just one sign language": Depending on the (spoken) language, the country or the writing system used, the signs may differ from one another. Some sign languages also have dialects and therefore differ in the detail in a similar manner to spoken language. As the signs are similar in many sign languages, the mutual understanding between certain sign languages can be very good. In order to ensure understanding in an international context or at international events, the pidgin*  language International Sign was developed, which allows people with different sign languages to understand one another.

It is likely that in the future, sign language interpreting will be exposed to an increased technological aspect when it comes to executing assignments. For example, sign language interpreting assignments via video-telephony are becoming increasingly common – in this situation, the interpreter and the deaf person are able to see one another via a screen in the telephone and through this screen, the interpreter directly translates what is said by the caller who is not deaf. This service is particularly common in the United States, where it is used primarily in the medical and legal sectors.

* Pidgin denotes a language comprising simplified grammatical elements of a more complex language with foreign-language influences.
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