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Interpreter Information

Interpreter Services

Sign Language Interpreter signing In order to receive interpreting services in the classroom, a student must be approved through Student Disability Services (SDS). Approval is contingent upon documentation of disability. Each semester a student enrolls for courses and desires interpreting services, the student must make contact with the Interpreter Coordinator to request services. Once approved, interpreting services are guaranteed for the entire semester, as long as students adhere to the guidelines established by SDS and approved by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Services are determined each semester and are on a case-by-case basis.

Students requiring an interpreter for class must make the request to Student Disability Services. For outside class requirements, such as field trips or other assigned activities, as well as office hours, students must also request the interpreter through SDS. Student Disability Services cannot guarantee an interpreter when requests are made less than 72 hours before the event. In the unlikely event that a student shows up for the first day of class without an interpreter, the student should be referred to SDS. Student Disability Services will then attempt to schedule an interpreter or work with the student to rearrange his/her schedule into classes where an interpreter is already provided.

Role of the Sign Language Interpreter

Sign language interpreters are trained professionals who provide a culturally appropriate communication link between Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing individuals. Interpreters have education in the field and a certification by a state/national board, which must be maintained by Continuing Education Units. Interpreters follow the Standards of Ethical Behavior established by the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters. For more information visit www.dars.state.tx.us or www.rid.org. It is a conflict of interest to be both an active participant and a neutral communicator between Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing persons. For this reason, it is not the interpreter’s role to advise, edit, advocate, teach, participate or have conversations with students while in the interpreting situation. The interpreter must faithfully convey the spirit and content of the speaker. Interpreters do not interject personal opinions. Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing persons using interpreter services have the right to control the communication interaction and make their own decisions. Interpreters will not answer questions of clarification or explanation; students should direct questions toward the professor. The professor can give a better explanation as to how it may relate to the class material.

Working With a Sign Language Interpreter

  • The interpreter will position him/herself so the Deaf or hard of hearing student can have a clear line of sight of the teacher, the interpreter, and any visual aids.
  • Make sure there is adequate lighting in the classroom.
  • Speak at your normal pace.
  • Talk directly to the person who is Deaf or hard of hearing as if the interpreter is not present. For example, say "The meeting will be Friday at 9:00 a.m.," rather than, "Tell him/her that the meeting will be Friday at 9:00 a.m."
  • Don't request that the interpreter not interpret something you say. It is the interpreter's job to interpret everything that is heard.
  • Often there will be a pause in the interpretation. The interpreter is taking time to receive the complete thought and render an accurate interpretation.
  • Provide the interpreter a copy of any handouts given to students. This allows the interpreter to scan over the material and prepare an accurate translation of the message.
  • Allow time for a pause when referring to handouts or visual aids. If you do not pause, the student may miss part of the message because he/she is looking over the materials.
  • Do not communicate vital information in high traffic areas or while walking. For example, don't tell a Deaf person that the date has changed for the next exam while walking down the hall. The Deaf person must watch you, the interpreter, and where they are going; this could lead to missed information.
  • Do not ask the interpreter to take on any responsibility other than relaying information.
  • Seek clarification if needed.