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Students Rights and Responsibilities: Interpreter Services

Any student seeking to obtain Sign Language Interpreter services must first be approved by the Student Disability Services. After approval a student must attend an initial intake meeting with a counselor to review services. Approval will be contingent upon documentation of disability. At this time common accommodations for the deaf or hard of hearing include, but are not limited to: note taking assistance, priority seating, sign language interpreters and use of adaptive equipment in the classroom. All accommodations will be determined by documentation provided and the specific need of the student.

Documentation for deaf and hard of hearing students may include, but is not limited to:

*Students requesting interpreter services must demonstrate the ability to comprehend sign language at a college register through an interview with the Assistant Director.*

Guidelines for request and use of Sign Language Interpreters:

To receive interpreter services the student must contact the Interpreter Coordinator at least two weeks before the semester begins, place a request for interpreting services for the upcoming semester, and provide a current schedule. This process must be followed so that we can efficiently provide services and accommodations on the first day of class. If a student makes any changes to his or her course schedule, he or she must notify the Interpreter Coordinator immediately. The Interpreter Coordinator will have one week from the date of written notification to provide services for any changes to class schedules already in place.

The responsibilities of the student while using interpreting services will include:

  1. Contacting the Interpreter Coordinator and Lead Interpreter by phone or email within 24 hours before class for notification of any absences. Any significant changes in student schedule must be made according to the policy stated above.
  2. Communicating any cancelled classes, tests and absences to the Interpreter Coordinator and Lead Interpreter. Acceptable mode of contact with the Interpreter Coordinator is by email or by phone at 806.742.2405 (office) or 806.686.1606 (VP). The Lead Interpreter, Carolyn Stephens, can be contacted via email or by phone at 806.742.2405 (office). It is not acceptable for students to call or text the interpreter assigned to the classroom with last minute changes or cancellation; this will result in a no-show/no-call.
  3. Complying with the no-show/no-call policy. The student is allowed up to 2 no-show/no-calls per class per semester. On the third no-show/no-call, interpreter services will be suspended and remain in suspension until the student has a consultation with the Interpreter Coordinator. At this time the Interpreter Coordinator may place additional requirements upon the student for the remaining of the semester. (This process is implemented on a class by class basis and does not pertain to the student's entire class schedule.)
  4. Submitting an Interpreter Request form for interpreter services outside the classroom. This interpreter request form is for students who are currently registered with Student Disability Services and is intended for academic purposes on the main Texas Tech University campus only. Interpreter requests for events lasting less than 3 hours require at least 72 hours' advance notice. Requests submitted with less than 72 hours' notice cannot be guaranteed. Interpreter requests for events lasting longer than 3 hours (e.g. conferences, training, etc.) require at least 3 weeks advance notice in order for our office to determine the appropriate accommodations. Events outside of Lubbock will be considered on a case-by-case basis contingent on availability of interpreter services in the area. Remember the no-call /no-show policy applies to Interpreter Request assignments as well.

    *Note: In the event that interpreters are not available, other appropriate services will be considered (e.g.RCART, UbiDuo, FM System, or other supportive technology).

About Sign Language Interpreting:

Sign language interpreting makes communication possible between people who are deaf or hard of hearing and people who can hear. Interpreting is a complex process that requires a high degree of linguistic, cognitive and technical skills in both English and American Sign Language (ASL). Sign language interpreting, like spoken language interpreting, involves more than simply replacing a word of spoken English with a signed representation of that English word. ASL has its own grammatical rules, sentence structure and cultural nuances. Interpreters must thoroughly understand the subject matter in which they work so that they are able to convert information from one language, known as the source language, into another, known as the target language. In addition, interpretations can incorporate cultural information associated with the languages used.

Resource from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Responsibility of the Sign Language Interpreter:

It is unethical for an interpreter to be an active participant while interpreting between the deaf, hard of hearing and hearing individuals. The interpreter must faithfully convey the spirit and intent of the speaker, the role of the interpreter is NOT to advise, edit, advocate, teach, interject personal opinions or have personal conversations with the participants in ANY interpreting situation. It is a responsibility of the student to maintain the ownership of all situations involving interpreter services. Student Disability Services interpreters are certified by state and national organizations and are required to adhere to a Code of Professional Conduct.

What you can expect out of interpreting services:

  1. Interpreters are a means for communication, used only to relay information between parties and should not be considered an academic service. Interpreters will not answer questions, provide information or repeat information. At all times any question should be directed to the instructor and not the interpreter.
  2. The interpreter will NOT engage in conversation with the student, this is considered unprofessional and inhibits communication access in the classroom. Please be aware that when the student is signing, professors will be expecting a question or comment to come from the student via the interpreter. 
  3. Some classes will require team interpreting, which will allow for interpreters to work together to provide the best services possible and prevent injuries. Each classroom situation is different. The interpreters in the classroom will determine the appropriate time for switching interpreters while keeping in mind the dynamics of the class.

    The interpreter team concept is used:
    • To prevent injury and mental fatigue.
    • To ensure accuracy.
    • To provide support to the partner. The two interpreters in the classroom will always be attentive, with one interpreting and the other providing support.
  4. In the case of tardiness, the interpreter will remain for 20 minutes for a 50-minute class, 30 minutes for an 80-minute class and 40 minutes for a 170-minute class. After this period they are required to report in to the Interpreter Coordinator to be reassigned.

Helpful Suggestions:

    • Make sure you are aware of all the support services/ departments around Texas Tech University; some examples include the Writing Center located in the English/Philosophy building, the Tutoring & Study Center located in room 106 of the Math Building and the Learning Center in Holden Hall room 80. All of the mentioned organizations are excellent places to receive tutorial services in select subjects.
    • During the first week of school, attend class a little early so you can introduce yourself AGAIN and refresh the professor's memory on the accommodations that you will be receiving in his/her class. On the first day of class, introducing the interpreter can establish ownership, reinforcing the fact that the professor needs to talk directly to you and not the interpreter.

      *Remember accommodation letters are to be signed and turned in to the Student Disability Services office one week after the first day of class to continue to receive interpreting services.*
    • If you encounter any problems with note-takers or any other accommodation in the classroom you must address it with the professor immediately. Do not wait until the end of the semester. If problems cannot be resolved between you and the professor, please make your academic counselor in the Student Disability Services aware immediately so a corrective course of action can be taken.
    • Please keep in contact with your academic advisor in your college of study and your academic counselor in the Student Disability Services. The two counselors can be of more help if you make them aware of any questions you may have.
    • Communicate with your classroom interpreter; let them know your preferred mode of communication on the first day of class. Work with the interpreter to establish needed signs in technically advanced classes and labs. If you have a problem with the interpreter, approach him or her via email or in person at appropriate times. Approaching your interpreters about questions or problems during a class is inappropriate; they are mediators of communication and cannot have conversation with students during assignments.
    • If any disagreement or situation cannot be corrected with your interpreter, then please contact the Interpreter Coordinator for resolution.
    • Above all, we are a team with the same goal in mind to ensure equal access in the classroom by the way of mediating communication through a sign language interpreter. Please do not make comments about interpreters to other interpreters. This is inappropriate and will not be tolerated. If you have an issue with an interpreter in any of your classes or requests, please contact the Interpreter Coordinator to discuss the matter.