SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1CR01-501 12/05/05
AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS
Some of the witnesses in this case will testify through sign language interpreters. These interpreters work for the court. They will provide you with the official translation.
American Sign Language is a foreign language, and not a form of English. It differs from spoken language in that it is visual rather than spoken. It is comprised of precise hand shapes and movements, which you see rather than hear.
You should listen to the translation of the witnesses’ testimony. You should not assume any meaning from observing body language or facial expressions, which may have unique purposes in the other language. They are integral parts of communicating in American Sign Language, similar to the way that vocal tones and inflections give meaning to spoken words. American Sign Language uses body language and certain facial expressions to convey information in ways that might be misunderstood by those who do not speak or understand the language.
You should treat the witnesses’ testimony as if it were spoken in English. The fact that it is given in American Sign Language should not affect your view of the witnesses’ credibility.
You should also understand that witnesses may nod their heads during a translation, and that this in no way indicates agreement or an affirmative answer. It may merely indicate that the witnesses are following the translation.
If you understand American Sign Language, you still should only consider the English translation. Even if you think that an interpreter makes a mistake, you should base your deliberations only on the official translation.