Religious interpreting can include, but is not limited to, worship services, religious education, youth and adult activities, conferences, counseling and special ceremonies such as weddings, funerals and baptisms.
Interpreters who accept assignments in a religious setting need to be able to faithfully and impartially interpret the message. The interpreter needs to be made aware of any cultural preferences, including rules for behavior and appropriate attire. Any special needs should always be discussed with the interpreter and consumers to determine if this is a situation where the interpreter needs to be a follower of a specific faith.
Preparation for a religious setting is extremely important. To render the best interpretation possible, the interpreter will need access to all materials for an event/ceremony, including such things as specialized vocabulary, both signed and spoken; liturgy; music lyrics and scripture references. How much preparation the interpreter will need depends on the complexity of the text and the event/ceremony.
Prior to the professionalization of sign language interpreting as a field, a number of people who knew some amount of sign language volunteered their time to interpret within their respective faith communities. The effectiveness of this arrangement varied widely. Nonetheless, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with rising professional standards for sign language interpreting provision, came to reveal a need to improve communication access for congregants, parishioners, and faith leaders. Thus, the use of qualified, professional interpreters ensures a maximally enriching experience for all participants in any religious setting.