Sign language is a form of language used by the deaf to communicate. Sign language allows people to use their hands, arms and facial expressions to communicate the same concepts as spoken language. When people who are deaf and use sign language wish to communicate with those who do not understand sign language, they often employ interpreters. Opening up a sign language business can be an excellent way to serve the needs of the deaf community and earn a living at the same time.
Create an office space. The office should have a space where you can keep records as well as a space where you can meet with clients and potential employees. You can use a dedicated space in your own house with a separate entrance, or you can rent space in a building somewhere. Consider renting a space that is near a place where deaf people gather such as a university for the deaf or a church group that has services for the deaf.
Interview employees. A sign language business may require more than one person to operate. You may need people who sign, someone to answer the phones as well as someone to greet clients and maintain records. An ideal employee should have at least some knowledge of sign language as well as an understanding of the needs of the deaf community. Someone who is post-lingually deaf (deafened after the acquisition of spoken language) may be an excellent co-worker to help you bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds. Someone who has full hearing but grew up with a parent who is deaf and is fluent in sign language may also be the perfect co-worker.
Test employees. If you don’t know sign language, you will have to ask potential employees to go for testing to make sure they can communicate effectively with sign language users. If you are fluent in sign language, you can test the employee yourself. Hold a 10-minute conversation with them to determine if they are skilled at sign language. Consider hiring employees who speak multiple sign languages. If you want to work with those who are deaf and from other countries such as Mexico or France, find employees who can communicate in other sign languages as well as American Sign Language.
Find clients. Once you’ve hired employees and set up your office space, you should seek out clients. You can contact local court offices and social agencies that work with the deaf to sign up as an interpreter. Consider membership in a professional sign language interpreter organization such as the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. You can be added to the organization’s database once you have met certain qualifications.
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