Performance, Film & Television Interpreting

Whether a play, musical, concert, or recital, our artistic sign language interpreters ensure your audience’s synonymous engagement and inclusion.

Performance, Theatrical, Film & Television Interpreting

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Whether for a play, recital, movie set , or concert, make sure your audience sees all the hard work behind your cast’s performance with our artistic, spotlight-ready sign language interpreters and Deaf production talent.

Never worked with an interpreter before? Don’t sweat it!

We’ve included some helpful tips to ensure your inclusive experience goes smoothly.

Tips for Working with Performance Interpreters

Sign language, Captioning, and Accessible Media Services

Premium accommodation services for the Deaf, Deaf-blind, blind, and hard-of-hearing. Available in Person and Online!

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A Day in the Life of a Theatrical Interpreter

For those who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing, it can be challenging to enjoy live performances, theatre, and events without having access to auditory information. This is where theatrical sign language interpreters come in – delivering simultaneous interpretation of auditory content into sign language to ensure the equal-access of Deaf and hard-of-hearing audience members.

However, not all sign language interpreters are created equal. In this post, we will explore the unique role of theatrical interpreters and why their services are critical for creating an inclusive event or production!

What is an Accessible Performance?

Accessible performances include theatrical productions and events that offer open-captions or sign language interpretation for audience members who have hearing-loss. Not only are these accommodations required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but they also open performances to a larger, more diverse audience. Accessible Performances should be initiative for every theatre, regardless of its size, location, or budget.

When partnered with a community-based organization like Inclusive Communication Services, theatres and venues big and small can make their performances accessible to the local community through affordable accommodation services.

What is the Role of a Performing Arts Sign Language Interpreter

Performing Arts Sign Language Interpreters deliver a high-register interpretation of auditory information into visual or tactile Sign Language to provide equal-access to Deaf, Deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing audiences. At a performance of “Hamilton,” for example, a Performing Arts Sign Language Interpreter would interpret all dialogue and song lyrics in real-time with the hearing cast, either on stage or to the right or left of the stage.

For large Broadway performances, theatrical interpreters work for months with ASL Consultants to create the most accurate and engaging translation of the production script. For smaller productions, interpreters may prepare anywhere from a few weeks to a few days before the live performance. Unlike medical or legal sign language interpreters, performing arts sign language interpreters are able to rehearse and perfect their translations to ensure for a standing ovation!

What Makes a Good Performance Sign Language Interpreter?

A good performance sign language interpreter must do one thing well – prepare! From translating scripts, attending rehearsals, running tech checks, and researching characters and stories, the accuracy and clarity of an interpreter’s work hinges in their preparation. Yes, it always helps for the interpreter to have a theatrical or event production background.

Most importantly, though, is that the performing arts sign language interpreter understands how different types of theatre work – it’s an interpretive art form after all—and that they’re constantly on their toes and ready to adapt to any changes in the run of show.

Why is There a Shortage of Qualified Performance Interpreters?

As with many professions, interpreters are not impervious to the nerves of the spotlight and camera. Many interpreters develop their careers without ever stepping into performing arts interpreting because they intentionally avoid high visibility work. Not only do nerves get the best of some interpreters, but a lack of quality mentorships and professional resources prevent new interpreters from gaining much needed performance arts training and education. (This is why there’s a shortage.)

The result is a deficient and disproportionate pool of professional theatrical sign language interpreters centralized around major theatre metropolises, like New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. The performing arts need more interpreters who are comfortable working in the spotlight and more educational resources to prepare these interpreters for the stage in order to meet the growing demand for performance accommodations.

Why Should Performances and Theatres Include Sign Language Interpretation?

From the Deaf community to a wider array of disabled groups, performances and theatres should provide sign language interpreters so that their productions can be enjoyed by everyone in the local community. By providing professional performing arts sign language interpreters, hearing and Deaf artists alike can be empowered to share their creativity without barriers.

These skilled interpreters serve as a fundamental bridge between the performers on stage and the diverse audience members who are interested in experiencing their performance with equal-access and full inclusion. Inclusive theatre is not a lofty ideal; it’s an imminent possibility available to every production and performance! It starts with a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Reach out to ICS or your local, community-based interpreting agency to start your discussion!

advertise your accessible production on the Access New York Calendar!

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