Sign language interpreting is unique in that interpreters have to simultaneously process two languages (ASL and English) at the same time. Research has shown after 30 minutes of continuous work, mental fatigue increases and the quality of the interpretation decreases when an interpreter works alone. There may be situations where a team is needed for assignments under one hour. Consider the following when determining whether a team of interpreters are needed:
Length and/or complexity of the assignment (e.g., heavy lectures, highly specialized technical jargon and concepts, multiple speakers)
Unique needs and preferred communication mode of the people (e.g., tactile, oral, or close vision interpreting)
The interpreting team supports one another by monitoring the environment, providing any cues, and making sure transitions are made with the least disruptions. Team interpreters should be actively engaged in the process; one providing direct interpretation services and the other functioning in a supporting role. This support is necessary to enhance the team’s performance and provide accurate communication. Team interpreting also protects interpreters from common industry injuries and minimizes interpreter errors.