Many families want what’s best for their children, which includes a quality education. However, what happens when your child is in one of many schools where the primary language is a language you do not know well? Or if you are deaf or hard of hearing?
The American Translators Association Code of Ethics states that interpreters and translators are “to convey meaning between people and cultures faithfully, accurately, and impartially (1).” This should be applied everywhere an interpreter and/or translator is needed. In November 2016, the United States Department of Education updated their English Learner Toolkit. Chapter 10 of that toolkit stresses the importance of having competent interpreters and translators for “limited english proficient” (LEP) parents (2). Local school officials need to purposely ensure that families understand information regarding their children’s education.They, “must provide accurate information about any service, program or activity that was also provided to a non-LEP (2).”
This can be applied to deaf and hard of hearing parents/guardians of hearing children. Jenny L. Singleton and Matthew D. Tittle states in “A Guide for Professionals Serving Hearing Children with Deaf Parents” that, “service providers should be aware of the necessity to take responsibility for making their services accessible without burdening the client, deaf or hearing, with the full responsibility for reducing communication barriers (3).” For example, a school learns that a student may need special education services. However, this student’s parents/guardians are deaf or hard of hearing. The school must understand and be willing to assist with the family’s needs. According to Singleton and Tittle, the parents/guardians of the child would not only need to collaborate with the school to create an Individualized Education Plan but also consult with social, medical and legal services. This would require an ASL interpreter who understands confidentiality and the families’ need to support the child.
Mandated interpretation and translation promotes compliance with ensuring that schools properly service parents/guardians who have language or hearing barriers. Schools must take initiative to identify the families that need such assistance while also finding trained interpreters and translators who are skilled in “specialized terms or concepts (2)” and ensure confidentiality.
American Translators Association. “American Translators Association Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.” (Oct 2010) https://www.atanet.org/
Department of Education United States of America. “Chapter 10 Tools and Resources for Ensuring Meaning Communication with Limited English Proficient Parents.” (Nov 2016) https://www2.ed.gov/about/
Singleton, Jenny L. and Matthew D. Tittle. “Technical Report #6 A Guide for Professional Serving Hearing Children with Deaf Parents.” (2001) http://clas.uiuc.edu/