Interpreters are a vital component in the establishment of effective communications between the school and with families who are more comfortable communicating in their native language. They are important in meeting compliance requirements with federal and state laws and to meet the basic communicative needs of the school and the parent. Parents should always feel welcomed in their children’s school and not isolated or alone. Parents who cannot communicate effectively with the school because their primary language is not English should be afforded an interpreter.
An interpreter may be called upon to facilitate effective communication in the following situations:
Phone calls-- School staff may ask an interpreter to make calls to set up meetings or to interpret an incoming call from a parent. Phone calls are one of the most common and vital uses of interpreters.
Parent conferences-- School staff may call upon an interpreter to assist in communicating information during a parent conference with the student’s teacher(s) in order to discuss student progress in class and grades, student homework and assignments, student test results, student behavior, or any other information that the school staff needs for the parents to know.
Testing situations-- Diagnosticians or speech or language pathologists may need an interpreter to assist during formal testing of a student as a component of the special education assessment. More in depth training for interpreters to assist in this area may be offered by the Region 7 Educational Service Center in Kilgore, TX.
During Referral to Special Education and in the Special Education Process-- This includes the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee meetings and in the Individual Education Program (IEP) committee meetings.
Remind staff that an interpreted meeting or conference will take more time than usual. At least 50% more time should be allotted.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s education records. These education records are official and confidential documents that are protected by one of the nation’s strongest privacy protection laws. FERPA applies to public schools and state or local education agencies that receive federal education funds, and it protects both paper and computerized records.
Also known as the Buckley Amendment, FERPA defines educational records as all records that schools or education agencies maintain about students. Under FERPA, an education record includes but is not limited to:
The date and place of birth
Parent(s) and/or guardian addresses, and where parents can be contacted in emergencies
Grades and test scores
Academic specializations and activities
Official letters regarding a student’s status in school
Special education records, disciplinary records, medical and health records
Documentation of attendance, and school attended
Awards conferred and degrees earned
Note: Law enforcement records crated and maintained by a school or district’s law enforcement unit are not education records. There are, however, other laws that protect the rights of minors. It is best that you refer any inquires to the appropriate staff who are well-versed and trained in confidentiality.
PARENT AND STUDENT RIGHTS FERPA gives both parents, custodial and non-custodial, equal access to student information unless the school has evidence of a court order or state law revoking these rights. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student, or former student who has reached the age of 18 or is attending school beyond the high school level.
Parents and eligible students have the right to the following:
Inspect and review all of the student’s education records maintained by the school
Request that a school correct records believed to be inaccurate or misleading (the school must respond in a timely manner following local policy)
If a school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing
After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record commenting on the contested information in the record
CONSENT FOR RELEASE OF RECORDS Generally, schools must have written permission from a parent or eligible student before releasing any information from a student’s record. However, the law allows schools to disclose records, without consent, to the following parties:
School employees who have a need to know
Other schools to which a student is transferring
Certain government officials in order to carry out lawful functions
Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student
Organizations conducting certain studies for the school
Individuals who have obtained court orders or subpoenas
Persons who need to know in case of health and safety emergencies
Sate and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to a specific state law
The school must make a responsible effort to notify the parent.
Personal information about a student that can be made public according to a school system’s FERPA policy is known as directory information. This information may include:
A student’s name, address and phone number
Other information typically found in school yearbooks or athletic programs
Annually schools must give parents public notice of the types of information designated as directory information. Parents may ask to remove all or part of the information on their child that they do not wish to be available to the public without their consent.
Some Common Interpreting Errors
Interpreting is a demanding job. The brain must listen in one language, convert the information into another language and then clearly speak in another language, and, then, reverse the process. It is not uncommon for errors to occur and it is understandable. The following are common errors:
Substitution errors-- Often when someone interprets, it is difficult to find words to convey the exact meaning of what is being said. Some words may be close to the intended meaning of what is being said, but do not communicate the exact meaning. When this occurs, the message given to the parent might be slightly different from the message the school staff wanted to convey. You need to feel comfortable and take your time when putting the message into the other language so this happens as seldom as possible. It is important that the message the school is sending be translated as precisely as possible.
Adding information-- It is tempting to add additional information that you think will be helpful when translating. Be careful about this. Remember that the parent and the school need to work together and the interpreter is there to make sure that they communicate effectively. If you feel that you have information that you feel needs to be added, be sure to tell both parties involved that you are adding your own information.
Omitting information-- When a great deal of talking is going on, it is easy to leave out important information. To prevent this from happening, the interpreter should feel free to ask people to speak more slowly or to repeat themselves. Do whatever you need to do to make sure that you are not omitting information. If you realize that you have omitted something, ask everyone to patiently wait as you go back and fill in missing information. The school should realize the difficulty of your job and be patient and supportive if you need to go back and make adjustments in filling in the conversation.
Remember that as an interpreter you are assuming a very challenging and important job in helping to establish positive relationships between the school and families who do not speak English as their first language. Every effort should be made to make the process as seamless as possible.
Important Points for the Interpreter
Interpreting is a difficult and important task. Here are some suggestions on how to be an effective interpreter:
Be as accurate as you can. Interpret ALL comments made by school staff and the parents. Be sure that everyone knows everything that is being said in both languages.
Ask questions for clarification. If you are not sure about what is being said or what somebody means, ask. You need to understand in order to interpret clearly.
Do not share or volunteer your opinions or feelings. This may be difficult, but it is extremely important. Your role as the interpreter is to relay information back and forth, so you must stay neutral and objective by not expressing personal feelings or opinions.
The school staff should provide explanations. They are there because to they want to communicate with the parent. Even if you know the answer to a question, let the school staff answer the inquiry. This helps the staff and parent in relationship building. It will also help the parent understand that he or she is not having a conversation with the interpreter.
You may help the school staff understand the parent’s point of view. If there is something unique to the parent’s culture that the school staff may not fully understand, you may explain this to the staff. Explaining information is not the same as giving an opinion.
If a parent contacts you to ask questions because they feel more comfortable speaking with you, please help the parent understand that they should contact the principal or other school staff with their questions.Only the appropriate staff should answer a parent’s question. The interpreter should interpret only.
The interpreter is critically important in facilitating parent and school communications.
When interpreting during diagnostic tests, it is important to make interpretations as exact as possible to the English words.
During diagnostic testing, ask questions for clarification.
Do not explain the student’s answers to the diagnostician or the speech therapist. They need you to tell them what the student said as precisely as possible. If more information is needed, he or she will ask.
In all interpreting situations, be mindful of facial expressions, body language, and voice tone. Be sure you are interpreting information as it was said, not based on how you feel about it. This is a big challenge, but the school is relying on you to do this.
Some information may be difficult to convey to the parent. Do not “soften the blow”. Many times an appropriate plan of action will be formed for the student based on the information presented and discussed in the meeting. All parties (school and parents) must have correct and accurate information to be able to make sure that the student receives instruction and services to maximize learning.
Be on time
Introduce yourself to the parent and explain your role (as interpreter only)
Sit next to the parent
Silence your phone
Share all that is said with the parent and the other members of the meeting
Ask questions if you are unclear about what is being asked of you to interpret
Plan so that you are able to stay for the length of the entire meeting/conference
Limitations need to be made known when you are asked to interpret
Give literal, accurate interpretations.
Interpreters are a critical component in ensuring special education compliance. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is federal law and requires that an interpreter be provided to non-English speaking parents. The Home Language Survey completed by parents at the time of enrollment in the school will determine if an interpreter is required. In all situations where Procedural Safeguards, Notices and Consents are given, an interpreter may be required to provide services and to document that an interpreting was provided. Interpreters will be required to sign the ARD signature page as an interpreter, but the interpreter is NOT a voting member of the ARD.
Federal law for notices states:
The written notice must be written in language understandable to the general public and provided in the native language of the parent or in the other mode of communication used by the parent unless it is clearly unfeasible to do so. Most Special Education forms have already been translated into Spanish.
If the native language is not a written language the district shall take steps to insure that the notice is translated orally or by other means to the parent, that the parent understands the content to the notice, and that there is written evidence to that effect.
Counselor- The counselor may have the responsibility to assist the parents by providing important required information, obtaining parental consent for testing, and completing paperwork which may require interpretation.
Educational Diagnostician- The diagnostician is responsible for arranging assessments for the student and interpreting to the members of the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Committee.
Speech Pathologist- The speech pathologist may be asked to conduct assessments specifically pertinent to language, articulation, fluency or voice.
Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) - The school psychologist may conduct assessment of a student for an emotional disturbance. The LSSP also conducts with teachers and parents regarding behavioral and learning issues.
Forms- See A
Disabilities may include the following:
Learning Disability- LD
Mental Retardation- MR
Emotional Disturbance- ED
Speech Impairment- SI
Visual Impairment- VI
Auditory Impairment- AI
Traumatic Brain Injury- TBI
Autism- AU- includes Pervasive Developmental Disability (PDD)
Orthopedic Impairment- OI-physical disability
Other Health Impairment- OHI- which may include Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
Terminology- See B
Acronyms- See C
Glossary- See D
Provide samples of each of the forms listed below and review each of the forms with the interpreter.
Receipt of Procedural Safeguards
Notice of Evaluation
Consent for Evaluation
Sample Full and Individual Evaluation and Eligibility Report
Notice of Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee Meeting
Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD)/ Individual Education Program (IEP) Forms
Consent for Initial Placement
Other Forms Determined Necessary
You will hear the following acronyms used frequently in reference to special education issues.
IDEA- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (federal regulations recently amended by Congress)
FIE- Full and Individual Evaluation (written report of the evaluations given to the student with the permission of the parent – assists in determining eligibility for special education services)
ARD/IEP-Admission, Review, and Dismissal/Individual Education Program Committee meeting (a group of individuals who discuss the student and make educational decisions- the parent is a very important member of this committee and in certain situations an interpreter is required)
IEP- Individual Education Program (often referred to separately by school staff in discussing the actual Goals and Objectives determined appropriate for the student to learn during the school year)
Transition Planning- Federal legislation is followed requiring transition planning services during the ARD/IEP meeting for specific age students. The Texas rules also require information on Transition Planning be provided to the student beginning at age 14.
LRE- Least Restrictive Environment (a term used to describe the best location to implement the student’s IEP)
Inclusion- often you will hear the term “Inclusion” to refer to providing students’ instruction in the LRE
Mainstream, Resource, Self-contained – these are types of instructional arrangements available for the ARD/IEP Committee to determine the best, most appropriate LRE for each individual student
Content Mastery- another type of Resource instructional arrangement sometimes offered for student support
FBA/BIP- Functional Behavior Assessment/Behavior Intervention Plan (the ARD Committee will discuss the FBA and develop a BIP for students whose behavior is interfering with their ability to learn
PAARD- Preassessment ARD (the ARD is required to Review Existing Evaluation Data (REED) and plan assessment for each student – this is to occur prior to each three year evaluation for each student and any time additional evaluation is considered or requested)
TAKS- Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills- the ARD committee will discuss the appropriate state assessment with the parent and student
BehaviorChangingTherapy terapia de modificación de conducta
BehavioralHealth Salud conductorial
BIP Plan de Intervención debido a la conducta
BehaviorSupportPlan- plan de apoyo conductual
Behavioral Skills habilidades conductuales
Below average por abajo del promedio
Birth Certificate acta de nacimiento
Birth date fecha de nacimiento
Birth defect defecto de nacimiento
Bite, to morder
Bleed, to sangrar
Blurred vision vision borrosa
Board of Education Mesa Directiva
Brace aparato ortopedico
Capable capaz; capacidad
Ceiling item artículo tope
Cerebral Palsey Paralisis cerebral
Certified nurse midwife enfermera partera/comadrona certificada. (Enfermera titulada que prosigue estudios adicionales en obstetricia y se certifica en ese campo se dedica a hacer partos bajo la tutela, a distancia, de un obstetra al que puede consultar rápidamente si se complica el asunto).
Check List lista de verificación
Chronological age edad cronologica
Classroom salon de clase
Clinical assessment valoracion clinica
Cognitive development desarrollo cognitivo
Cognitive impairment trastorno cognitivo
Cognitive skills habilidades cognitiva
Communication disorder trastorno de comunicación
Communication skills habilidades de la comunicación
Community Mental Health (CMH) Comunidad para la Enfermedad Mental
Composite Group grupo compuesto
Conduct Disorder (CD) Desorden de la Conducta
Conductive hearing loss perdida de la capacidad auditiva conductiva