This article discusses the effect of preparation on the cognitive load of sign language interpreters and its relationship to the quality of sign language interpretation. Participants were all sign language interpreters working in Iceland. The data collected were both qualitative and quantitative, i.e. interviews, a questionnaire in connection with a special interpreting project and a specially designed interpretation test. The test was held to obtain statistical information on the effects of preparation on sign language interpretation and to get feedback from the interpreters themselves about what they consider important to prepare.

The results of the study show that preparation both increases the interpreters' understanding of the topic and facilitates their presentation of the interpretation. These factors reduce the cognitive load and increase the quality of the interpretation. Statistical data showed that in unprepared interpretations almost 20% of the main points to be interpreted were lost, but only about 10% in prepared interpretations. The results indicate that it is important for sign language interpreters to have the opportunity to prepare before their assignments. Thus, in order to ensure the quality of interpretation it is important for the interpreters to receive the preparation they need.



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