Interpretation is important for educational institutions that want to provide high-quality services and the same level of education to all of their students regardless of their ability to speak and understand English.

While a foreign language interpreter may be the first thing that comes to your mind in such a setting, the truth is that there are educational interpreters who are helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students as well. Those professionals are specifically trained to work with school children in addition to being proficient in American Sign Language interpretation.  

In order to make the best use of the interpretation services, educational institutions need to recruit only professional and certified sign language interpreters who will contribute to the overall adaptation and wellbeing of the students. Those professionals are often full-time members of the educational team but can also work on an ad-hoc basis or via a video remote interpreting service if need be. 

Do educational institutions need sign language interpretation services? 

The role of the educational interpreter is to breach the language gap that may prevent a child from getting access to the same level and quality of education because of factors such as limited English proficiency or hearing impairment.  

Professional interpretation for deaf or hard-of-hearing children helps the educational institution fulfill its role as a such to the fullest. With the help of the professional interpreter, the students and the faculty can interact normally. The interpreter allows the child to have access to the general curriculum as presented to the other students.

Normally, being an educational sign language interpreter is a full-time job. The interpreter takes on a “teaching” and hence it is necessary for them to be well prepared for the job. There is a significant difference between providing sign language interpretation services to adults and to children.  

Like any adult, the interpreter also affects all forms of development at this early age – linguistic, cognitive, social, so it is important that the professional can serve as a role model. The presence of the interpreter in the classroom can boost the confidence of the deaf or hard-of-hearing students and let them participate actively in the entire educational process. 

How to select the right sign language educational interpreter? 

When looking for quality interpretation services, educational institutions need to select professionals with the right qualification and experience. One of the ways to guarantee that the sign language interpreter is the right for the position is to look for experts who have EIPA certification.  

The Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) is a tool to assess the knowledge and abilities of sign language interpreters who want to work in the educational system. It is provided by the EIPA Diagnostic Center at the Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. 

The test assesses the ability of an interpreter to work with children from elementary to secondary schools by using videotape stimulus materials.  

If your educational institution is looking for a sign language professional who has the skills and knowledge to work in a K-12 educational setting, then you need to look for an EIPA-certified interpreter. You can reach the EIPA Diagnostic Center for any information related to educational sign language interpreters as the Center works with educational institutions and serves school districts and states as well as individual interpreters. 

The right educational interpreter should not only be proficient in using American Sign Language but also have knowledge of how to work with children, what are their language development stages and what are the specifications of a classroom setting as a whole.  

Educational institutions also have the option to rely on video remote interpretation in case in-person and on-site interpreting services are not available. The technology gives you access to qualified ASL interpreters and is a great interim solution. At present, a wide variety of educational institutions both in the public and the private sector avail of the service.

What does the educational interpreter do? 

Educational interpreters play several roles inside educational institutions. They facilitate communication between students, teachers, peers, and faculty administration. A significant part of their role is to convey the words of the teacher to the students with hearing impairment and let them participate actively in the learning process. To this end the interpreter plays a role similar to that of the teacher – they are the provider of new knowledge and the means of communication between the teacher and the student. As such, the educational interpreter needs to:

  • Clearly convey the content 
  • Use the appropriate language 
  • Make sure the goal of the lesson is clear to the student/s 
  • Monitor student comprehension and the pace of development 
  • Follow the individualized education plan for the student (if such was needed and established) 
  • Facilitate the student/s participation in all classwork activities 
  • Encourage communication 

The interpreter plays yet another important role as well – to facilitate communication and social interaction with peers. The professional is there to help the child enjoy all aspects of the school life that including playing and chatting with friends. This is a significant part of the tasks an educational interpreter has and is equally valued and appreciated by all of the involved parties. 

In certain cases, the educational interpreter can also help with the communication with parents of students, who also have some hearing impairment. 

A sign language interpreter at an educational institution can also participate in teacher-parent meetings and conferences, facilitate student assessment and student tutoring.  

We can sum up that the role of the educational interpreter is to make sure that the deaf or hard-of-hearing child feels comfortable at schools and gets the same level of learning opportunities and social interaction as the other students.  

As educational interpreters work in a setting that is completely different than that of working with adults, there are also specific practices and principles that guide their work. There is a set of guidelines called the NAD RID Professional Code of Conduct, which is developed by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). 

Educational interpreters helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students are an important part of the team for any educational institution. They are a guarantee of accessible and equal education and opportunities and also help the institution comply with federal civil rights laws to ensure effective communication with people having a hearing impairment.  

Here at ICD Translation we are able to help with professional educational and other types of interpretation and translation services in any language you may need.  

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