condensing information

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Condensing information is a general term for the transliterator or interpreter skill whereby the source message is reduced in length without impacting meaning or grammatical accuracy. An important consideration is the retention of key vocabulary. While the use of a synonym may not impact meaning, such substitutions may have negative consequences on students who are required to recognize or understand specific terminology. Transliterators/interpreters consult with instructional staff prior to the event in order to discuss options and how condensing information may impact the teacher's educational objectives.

Ways of Condensing Information

There are two basic ways to condense information: paraphrasing and summarizing.


Paraphrasing is the ongoing condensing of information while the source message is being delivered. The transliterator may edit the source message by replacing words for ones with fewer syllables, changing passive to active voice, and eliminating redundancies. This can be challenging for transliterators because it requires understanding of the concepts being conveyed and increases the burden on working memory.

Technique Source Message Possible Transliterated Version
Words with fewer syllables "The library is closed. Consequently, we'll be starting our quiz early." "The library is closed. So, we'll be starting our quiz early.
Passive to Active Voice "The boards were washed by the students." "The students washed the boards."
Eliminating Redundancies "Let's open our books. Open to page four." "Let's open our books to page four."


Summarizing is a form of condensing of information that occurs after the source message is delivered.


There are three types of instances that require condensing of the source message: when a transliterator is not sufficiently fluent to keep up with the speaker, when the deaf consumer is new to Cued Speech and cannot take in a verbatim version of the source message, or due to situational constraints that momentarily interrupt the transliterated message, but not the spoken message.

Transliterator Fluency

In some cases, transliterators are hired before they are sufficiently fluent. As they gain fluency, they may use paraphrasing techniques as a strategy to facilitate communication until they are able to deliver the message in a manner that more appropriately services the consumer's characteristics and needs.

Consumer Characteristics

For children who transition to Cued Speech and receive transliteration services in schools, a verbatim message may be delivered too rapidly. Until the consumer develops receptive fluency a condensed version of the source may be closer to equal access than a verbatim rendering. That is, the delivery of a reduced cued version of the spoken content may be more similar to the experience of the hearing children than an identical version that the child cannot access. The rate of the transliterated version should incrementally increase with the progression of the child's ability to read cued English.

Situational Constraints

The transliterator's fluency and consumer characteristics are likely to improve over time. Those cases present a temporary need to condense information. Unlike those instances, the need to condense information due to situational constraints is constant. When the transliterated message is momentarily interrupted, the transliterator may need to pause. By condensing information the CLT can decrease the lag time between the cued version and the spoken message.

For example, while accessing a lecture the deaf consumer drops his pencil. He momentarily breaks eye contact to retrieve the pencil and immediately re-engages with the transliterator. Hearing people can look away and continue to listen to the teacher. In order for the deaf consumer to have that same ability, the CLT may need to pause when the deaf consumer looks away. Then, the CLT will pick up the lecture where it left off when the deaf consumer re-engages – paraphrasing if necessary to decrease lag time. Other cases that require paraphrasing may include times when the consumer must go quickly between the teacher's words and another visual source (e.g., rapidly checking answers on one's own paper) or when the deaf student is participating in a rapid back-and-forth interaction (e.g., call and response).

Training in Condensing Information

Informal Training

To practice this skill, transliterators should begin practicing with written materials and progress to spoken. Select materials that are likely to use repetition. Avoid materials that are edited to be efficient and consice. Infomercials can be a good source for practice materials for this skill. Companies purchase blocks of inexpensive air time (i.e. late at night) and broadcast mock television programs to sell their product. Infomercials are unlike other broadcast programs because they must expand the content (e.g., talking about the absorbancy of a cloth) to an hour-long block of air time. These programs yield a great deal of redundancy and mutlisyllablic words to describe the results of their products.

Formal training

Language Matters, Inc. provides training in this skill in the Skills I, II, and III courses of the  CLTPES. Additionally, they offer CLT Skills IV: AES and Information Chunking which targets expansion of long- and short-term memory.