If you’re planning to include sign language in your content, you might be wondering about the best practices for doing so. Here’s a quick guide on how to put together an ideal output layout in this situation!

1. Size of the interpreter on a large screen

ID: Image of a screen with its gridlines with: logo of Equal Dreams at top left, text "16:9 1/8" at bottom left, and a black silhouette of a lady's back at bottom right corner.

For content that will be broadcasted on large screens, the interpreter’s box should take up at least ¼ of the screen width, and ½ of the screen height. If viewers are expected to access your content via mobile, we recommend that the interpreter’s box takes up at least ⅓ of the screen width, and ½ of the screen height, as illustrated below.

ID: Image of a screen on mobile with its gridlines with: logo of Equal Dreams at top left, text "1/6" at bottom left, and a black silhouette of a lady's back at bottom right corner.

If possible, a split screen format would be best, where the interpreter’s box takes up at least ⅓ of the screen width, and has the same screen height as the main content. This can work, for example, when the main content has one speaker in a mostly static position.

(a) Main media and interpreter boxes in full split screen format

ID: Screenshot (from a recorded video copyrights by Equal Dreams) in split-screen format: with the left window showing DPM in pink shirt at the podium, and the right window showing the Deaf interpreter in black shirt, signing. The title text at the top reads: "Ministerial statement by DPM Heng Swee Keat: Continue support for workers and jobs".
Screengrab showing a Deaf interpreter signing a ministerial statement by Mr Heng Swee Keat

Alternatively, if the main media can be filmed and edited with ample space to overlay the interpreter’s box, you can consider the layout below.

(b) Interpreter’s box within the main media

ID: Screenshot of a recorded video that shows a small window at the bottom left: Deaf interpreter in black shirt, within the main media showing the background of National Gallery. Title text on it reads: "Art in 90 seconds. Stories from Singapore Association for Mental Health".
Screengrab of a video from National Gallery’s Art in 90 Seconds series, done in collaboration with Equal Dreams and Singapore Association for Mental Health.

At times, the proportions of the main media and the interpreter’s video may not fit a full split screen format, or having space for the interpreter was not factored in when designing the main media. The other examples below are layouts that you can consider in such scenarios.

(c) Interpreter’s box beside the main media, but sized smaller. Format is more informal, with illustrated graphics and fun framing of the boxes.

ID: Screenshot from a recorded video. 2 windows are seen, with the left window showing the main media, title text is "Little Footprints Preschool (St Anne's), Start Small Dream Big", and the right smaller window showing the Deaf interpreter in black shirt.
Screengrab of a children’s storytelling video by National Library Board, done in collaboration with Equal Dreams

(d) Similar side-by-side format as above, but in a cleaner and more formal layout

ID: A still taken from Apple's website. It shows the main video on the left, and a smaller interpreter window at the right, where a man in black shirt is shown signing.
Screengrab of Apple’s 14 September, 2021 event. Via Apple’s website.

(e) Interpreter in front of the main media. 

ID: A picture in picture. The angle is taken from the person's back,. The person is shown watching a monitor screen that shows an interpreter signing at the bottom right corner, overlaid on the main video in which a male singer is strutting his guitar.
Photo of a Deaf interpreter signing during the Tokyo Paralympics 2021 opening ceremony. Via Kyodo News 


ID: A screenshot of "Tales of Sang Kancil" video. The text at the center reads: "Let's Dance. Join us for the happy dance!" An interpreter is seen signing at the bottom right corner, as an insert.
Image credit: Screenshot from the production “Tales of Sang Kancil” presented by Malay Heritage Centre, produced by The Artground. This is a collaboration with Equal Dreams to provide SgSL interpretation by a Deaf interpreter for the production. Production Company: Millenia Motion Pictures

2. Nature of the main content makes it hard to have an ideal interpreter layout

In this case, it’s best to offer two versions: one with sign language interpretation, and one without.

This way, the version with interpretation can have the ideal layout, without compromising the preference of other viewers who may only want to see the main media in full screen.

If you offer this option, please ensure that you clearly state both links when publicising, and that viewers can easily navigate between them. Remember to adequately publicise that you have a sign language interpreted version on your main social media post, YouTube link and website.

As seen below, the interpreted video should not be ‘hidden’, nor only available on enquiry.

ID: 2 images in comparison side by side. On the left with the version showing "Email us for Sign Language Interpretation" is marked a red X. On the right with the version showing "See this video with Sign Language Interpretation in SgSL here" is marked with a green tick.

3. Other ways to incorporate sign language and interpretation in your content

You can try out a plugin that allows viewers to customise the interpreter’s box size, and turn on or off the interpretation.

Here’s an example: Signly, powered by Microsoft Azure.

Alternatively, consider a new approach — like having a Deaf interpreter as the main host of your video content, with a voice-over. This way, you won’t have to retrofit a picture-in-picture layout.

4. More resources