Hearing interpreters have to be members of CASLI in order to work. CASLI is the Canadian Association of Sign Language Interpreters - formerly known as AVLIC (Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada).
Deaf Theatre Interpreters have a different scope of interpreting, as it is an artistic field for them. Therefore they require a different set of training, which includes theatre experience/training. Many Deaf Theatre Interpreters/performers) are not members of CASLI.
Interpretation should be considered as soon as a production is being created. You should contact an interpreter at least three months prior to the performance.
It is important to consider how much time is needed to rehearse and learn/translate the text, for both the actor and the interpreter. These things take time! Meet to discuss the project as early as possible with your interpreter(s) and provide them the script as soon as possible. This gives the interpreter time to study the material and get to know the show. When making adjustments to the script, make sure to provide updated copies to the interpreter and mark what has been changed throughout the process. To provide top-notch accessibility, Interpreters need access to watching the show, rehearsals, tech rehearsals, a full-run through with the show including interpretation to ensure full clarity and understanding of the show. The interpreters will need a video-recorded copy of the full run-through of the show as soon as possible. If the Deaf interpreter is working, you will have to have the video close captioned.
Depending on your project, you may choose from a multitude of different interpretation styles from Spoken Theatre to ASL and vise versa. We've created two inforgraphics to illustrate how these different styles of interpretation work (and their pros and cons).
Download our infographic on How to Make Spoken Theatre Accessible for Deaf Audiences.
Remember that interpreting for live performance is also an art. The fees for this type of work are higher because of the complexity of the job. Many artists at our d/Deaf Jam agreed that any fee under $100/hour even for new interpreters is too low. A lot of interpreters do not charge hourly rates, but rather half day or full day fees. There is also a minimum two-hour booking time. This ensures that there is sufficient time to prepare and for the interpreter and client to engage before and after the event, rather than rushing around from assignment to assignment. Talk to some interpreters to see what their fee is, and make it a high-priority budget line. Remember that producers have the power to decide where the money goes.Another thing to consider when hiring an interpreter is diversity and representation. We learned during the D/deaf Jam that there is a disproportionate amount of hearing white women who work as interpreters. Remember, your Deaf or hearing audience will be looking to the interpreter to see/hear the story through their body and their voice. It is important to consider matching the interpreter to the actor/character to increase representation across the board (i.e., IBPOC TO IBPOC, Trans to Trans).
Recognize that hiring an interpreter does not mean that Deaf patrons will come to the show. An effective marketing strategy is required, including but not limited to community outreach, and listing your event on websites that promote ASL events. Unless there was an initial conversation and it was built into their contract, Interpreters are not allowed to promote your show as per the CASLI code of Ethics - nor should they. That’s your job!
If possible, offer more than one ASL performance. Limiting the number of ASL-interpreted events limits your audience.