This is a very old post (2006), written by Sven Noben, founder of Signfuse. Several data (and links) in this article may be outdated.
Avatars appoint game characters, wouldn’t it be more correct in the following situation to use this term for interpreters? It could be rude still to call them humans…
The word “avatar” is frequently used in the computer gaming world to describe a graphical character, who is actually living inside the boundaries of the game. In older times, these were also called sprites.
In analogy to the living character in a game, I prefer to call interpreters inside a software program avatars as well. A, they are controlled by the user of the software (interaction) and B, they do speak sign language as their mother tongue inside the software. They don’t talk, they just know a Sign Language.
I will clarify this: in the real world where the interpreters are filmed for use in the software, they are humans, they are interpreters. But when the interpreters become part of the software and you have manipulating powers over them, it would be cruel to call them still human. More even, in the boundaries of the software where their film is living, they don’t know spoken or written language, Sign Language is the only language they know in the software. So we can’t call them interpreters anymore.
That’s why I suggest to use the word avatars, in analogy with the gaming naming conventions.