Classroom Interpreters - Professional Conduct Guidelines
The Educational Interpreter Works for the School and Educational Team
The context of educational interpreting and the responsibilities placed on the interpreter are very different than those in the community setting.
The educational interpreter is a member of an educational team that has a federal obligation to educate a student with special needs. As a related service provider, the educational interpreter has legal responsibilities to support a child’s education, providing the student access to the general curriculum. These legal responsibilities define a very different scope of practice for the educational interpreter than for the adult community interpreter.
The following figure tries to capture the relationship that an educational interpreter has with the numerous members of the school, the educational team, and the classroom.
The educational interpreter has numerous relationships with different obligations to each. Such obligations include:
- Member of the educational team − There are many legal obligations that come with being a member of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team. The interpreter has a responsibility to understand and help implement the student’s IEP. He or she also has a responsibility to work as a member of the team and to keep the team informed. All decisions regarding the student’s education should be made by the team.
- An interpreter for a specific student − Educational interpreters have a responsibility to help maximize a student’s learning. They should adapt interpreting to the student’s developmental level across a wide range of domains, if necessary.
Educational interpreters must also acknowledge that they have accepted the huge responsibility of working with a developing child. With that comes the responsibility to treat all children with equality and respect.
- A professional working in a classroom − All adults in educational settings have obligations that come with working with children and youth. All professionals foster development in all members of the school community, not just those in their specific charge.
Interpreters can help the deaf or hard of hearing student become accepted within the classroom by seeing themselves as a member of the classroom, not as professionals belonging to the deaf or hard of hearing student. It is beneficial to both the hearing students and the deaf or hard of hearing student to see the educational interpreter assisting and supporting other learners when she/he is not needed to interpret.
- A member of the school community − Schools are communities of practice and the educational interpreter is a member of that larger community. Most professionals in schools wear many hats and share many responsibilities that come with managing an educational program. Educational interpreters should contribute to the health and welfare of the larger community. They should understand and follow the professional guidelines within that educational community.