FAQs - Sign Language Interpreting Service

1. What does a Sign Language Interpreter do?

A sign language interpreter facilitates communication between users of Lingwa Sinjali Maltija (LSM) and users of spoken Maltese or English. This is done by signing what is said and speaking what is signed. This is a complex process that requires a high degree of linguistic, cognitive and technical skills. 

2. How do I work with an interpreter?

Prior to the appointment, confirm that the hearing-impaired person uses Maltese Sign Language and agree who will book the interpreter. The more information is given prior to the meeting, the more the interpreter can be prepared for the task. Interpreters are bound by a strict code of conduct that includes confidentiality.

During the appointment, please speak directly to the person you need to talk to, not the interpreter. There is no need to say “tell him” or “ask her.” Please do not ask the interpreter to be involved in any way other than interpreting. Interpreting requires intense concentration and physical effort.

To maintain a high standard of accuracy, the interpreter may require short breaks during an assignment that lasts an hour or more, or two interpreters may be needed to work as a team.

Seating needs to be arranged so the Deaf person has a clear view of the interpreter and of the person or people speaking. Ideally, the area will be well lit and the interpreter stays in front of a plain background. Avoid having the interpreter in front of a bright window or busy backdrop; these settings make it harder for the Deaf person to see the interpreted message clearly.

3. Do all hearing-impaired people use Sign Language?

Not all hearing-impaired people use sign language. Being a signer depends on an individual’s language choices, their family and culture. A Deaf person is someone who uses sign language as a mode of communication and identifies as part of the Deaf Community.

4. Why not use a family member/friend as an interpreter?

In most cases, friends or family members do not have the sign language skills or vocabulary necessary to provide effective communication in professional situations. They may also be too close to the individual to give an objective and accurate interpretation. A family member or friend may withhold information they believe is not important or to keep from upsetting the deaf individual, not relaying the full content of the conversation. Also, the interpreter will keep the interpreted interaction confidential because s/he is bound by a strict code of ethics and professional conduct. 

5. Can I learn Maltese Sign Language with Aġenzija Sapport? 

This is not a service offered by the Agency, However, there are various courses available. For the latest information, please contact Maltese Sign Language Council on signlanguagecouncil@gov.mt​