Administrators - Legal Rights
The legal right to an educational interpreter is well established by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 04). IDEA 04 states that all children with disabilities have the right to a “free and appropriate education” (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for the future.
IDEA recognizes the educational interpreter as a “related service provider.” Typically, the right to an educational interpreter is specified on the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). For many students with hearing loss, even those who are considered hard of hearing, an interpreter is essential to providing FAPE.
Not all educational interpreters are qualified. However, many state departments of education believe that President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act mandates that schools are responsible for ensuring that educational interpreters are highly qualified.
To ensure that educational interpreters are competent, nearly half of all states require interpreters to meet minimum performance standards in order to work in the K-12 setting. State departments of education establish the majority of these standards. Additionally, nearly 50% of all states require that educational interpreters pass the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA), which is a tool designed to evaluate the voice-to-sign and sign-to-voice interpreting skills of interpreters who work in the elementary and secondary school classroom setting.