There is a shortage of qualified educational interpreters all over the country. This has a significant effect on the education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students that we serve. How do we balance the need to provide qualified interepreters AND provide quality service for our students?
I think a major issue is the lack of knowledge about what an Educational Interpreter does. Most schools think we just "sign" to our students but they do not understand the mental process of changing the messaging into their mode of communication including any cultural changes that need to be made. They don't understand that we are language experts and our job is to make the message understood in that students mode of communication, be it ASL, PSE, or MCE and we have to be able to do that in an instant. We also take on different roles in the educational system and many contracted interpreters are not willing to take on those rolls mainly because they have been taught that "I am just the interpreter" so hands off...We need to educate the school systems on what we do how we BENEFIT the student and having qualified interpreters is critical.
One last thing, I think the state or the powers that be have made it difficult for new interpreters to get any kind of qualifications. Their choices are the EIPA or the NIC, but we need to have something that will allow new interpreters to work with support so that they can get the experience that they need.
Just my thoughts.
I agree, Julie. There needs to be a way for people to work with support to build their skills. I also agree most of the time we are not understood and therefore, not respected as professionals. It's frustrating and feels oppressive to us. Imagine how much more Deaf children in these systems are oppressed if we are. . .
To LaToya, I don't think that churning out more qualified interpreters will solve anything. Once those people become trained and qualified, they will leave if they are not paid well.
There are many qualified and certified interpreters clusterd in metro Atlanta. Why? They are paid well in metro Atlanta. Outside of Atlanta, there is NO pay for becomming certified, so there are less certified (or otherwise qualified) interpreters.
Pay is really the issue.
Donna, I couldn't agree more....
I have a BA in Interpreting as well as having my EIPA.. I am often asked by our lead TOD (who is also CI, CT) when/if I am going to be taking the NIC..
Professionally I would LOVE to advance to that category, however, at my young age (of 27) I have met the CAP on my pay scale...
If I take and pass my NIC my pay will NOT reflect... If I added a masters degree, my pay will NOT reflect..
So why, I ask, would I PAY all of that money to take test's, to attend workshops, to get a higher degree, when I will make the exact same amount no matter what????? Naturally I want to maintain skill to best benefit the students in my county, however, money is the basis of survival... and a large motivator
I think that we need to be looked at more as professional (not by our principles, or TOD's exactly) but but the "powers that be".. The ones who control our place in the school system, yet rarely understand our role..
Just my thoughts..
Hi Julie -
Though I'm not an interpreter in a school, I do work with one of the comprehensive high school in our district that has educational interpreters, so I fully understand what you're saying. The hearing population has the luxury of not having to deal with multiple interpretive levels going from one spoken language to another, so the idea of having to process so much, so fast, and then "translate" it in non-verbal terms, with cultural overlays, never occurs to them. As for the multiple roles, the school that I spoke of is actually forunate enough to have a counselor who is an interpreter and works specifically with the deaf and hard-of-hearing population in that school - which, by the way, pulls deaf & hard-of-hearing students from across the city. Is that a unique situation for such programs?
Also, you use a number of acronyms with which I'm not at all familiar - PSE, MCE, EIPA, NIC; would you please tell me what they stand for? I'd greaty appreciate it.
Hello all -
I am not an educational interpreter - I interpret at my church presently, for about 9 years. However, one of the school that I work with (our organization manages career academies in Philadelphia public high schools) has a program for deaf & hard-of-hearing students. I have worked with the interpreters there, speaking to senior students about career preparation for after high school. I am very interested to know what is going on in other cities in terms of educational interpreting and how I could possibly help the interpreters here with resources for their students.
Thanks so much; I look forward to your replies.
A great resource for seniors in high school is PepNet. They have resources to help Deaf and Hard of Hearing students transition from high school to college, trade school or the work force.
Hello, Nancy! How do educational interpreters in school systems in Philadelphia and surrounding areas communicate with each other? There is typically a Deaf/Hard of Hearing State Department of Ed. supervisor, who may or may not have the contact information for (some) interpreters throughout the state. Our coordinator for Deaf/Hard of Hearing services assited me in starting to contact educational interpreters in Georgia. Often, educational interpreters are isolated and disconnected. If there is no connection currently, you can become that connection, either by creating a website, or a listserve, or inviting them to dialogue here! That is what LaToya and I are passionate about: Connecting educational interpreters with resources for professional development and encouraging them to engage with various professional organizations so that they can have a voice and make an impact for Deaf students. I ended up creating an e-mail list that now included about 240 educational interpreters in Georgia. I wish you well in your endeavors to provide resources. Donna