Sign Language Interpreters
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As of December 1, 2010, all sign language interpreters in
Wisconsin are required to be licensed by
of Safety and Professional Services.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives Deaf,
Deafblind or Hard of Hearing individuals the right to a qualified interpreter.
“qualified interpreter” as one who is able to interpret
effectively, accurately and impartially both receptively and expressively, using
any necessary specialized vocabulary. It also may help to become familiar with Wisconsin
state laws, as well as federal laws regarding sign language interpreters.
Sign language interpreters are bi-lingual and bi-cultural
individuals that facilitate communication between a Deaf individual and a
Where can I find more information on Interpreters?
Oral interpreters are trained at pronouncing words clearly.
They silently mouth the spoken message for Deaf and hard of hearing
individuals. Oral interpreters
require the skill of the consumers to speech read.
Because of this, oral interpreters are typically used by those who were
raised orally with speech reading and do not know sign language.
Various Interpreter Specialties
Health Interpreters (MHI)
Video Remote Interpreters
There are two groups of Educational Interpreters: 1) those
who work in pre-school through 12th grade settings, and 2) those who work at the
colleges and universities. Guidelines or Best Practice are somewhat
different for these two professional groups. This section is about
educational interpreters who work with children in K-12 schools.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has
the legal responsibility to assure that people working in our public schools
meet at least minimal license requirements. Educational Interpreters,
along with teachers and all other school personnel, must have a license from
DPI. The DPI license for educational interpreters was first established in
1992 requiring 2 years of interpreter preparation at the college level.
These classes include child psychology as well as ASL and interpreting.
In the 1990’s, Wisconsin was one of few states with a license for K-12 educational interpreters.
All licenses are good for 5 years and require that classes be taken to continue
professional development. In 1997, DPI added the requirement that
educational interpreters must also take and “pass” the Educational
Interpreter Performance Assessment or EIPA.
States vary in the minimal score requirement for licensure
to work in a K-12 school. In
Wisconsin, the EIPA 3.0 is considered passing. In
, the EIPA 3.5 is required and in Minnesota
the EIPA 4.0 (or RID) is required for licensure.
The EIPA test schedule for Wisconsin is put together each fall. Tests are given in 6 areas of the state
throughout the school year.
The EIPA is a national test for interpreters working with
children in our K-12 schools. It is owned and managed by staff at Boys
Town National Research Hospital: EIPA Diagnostic Center, in Omaha,
Nebraska. All scoring for the EIPA is done by staff at the
Center. This means that scores are valid and reliable throughout the
country. Three trained and qualified people rate each test. There is
at least one Deaf person on the team. Scores range from 1-5 points.
Four areas are assessed including: Prosody (use of ASL grammatical features),
Sign-to-Voice, Vocabulary and Fingerspelling, and Overall Interpreting Process.
You can find more information about the EIPA on their website at: www.classroominterpreting.com.
In recent years the EIPA has added a Written test. Some states
require that this be passed for licensure. DPI does not require the EIPA
Written test, but some interpreter preparation programs are adding this as a
requirement of completing their program.
The DPI license honors RID
certification as one of the 5
credits required for license renewal. However, the DPI license does
not allow RID instead of the EIPA. RID oversees an excellent assessment of
interpreting skills for adult services. Since the process of interpreting
for children in (learning) academic settings is different than the process of
interpreting for adults, an Advisory Committee decided that ALL those who work
as an educational interpreter in a K-12 school with a DPI license must take the
EIPA every 5 years to demonstrate competency.
The RID has reviewed the EIPA for its validity and
reliability and now recognizes the EIPA. Those who take the EIPA and earn
a 4.0 or better and pass the EIPA Written test, may apply to RID for certified
ROLE OF THE EDUCATIONAL
Many questions come up about the Role of the Educational
Interpreter. All those who work in public schools must follow the rules of
the school. Educational interpreters are part of the educational team.
They are responsible for communicating with teachers about the needs of the
students. The DPI has a Bulletin with 16 questions about the role of
educational interpreters. These questions are:
What is the role of the educational interpreter?
What duties in addition to interpreting are appropriate
for educational interpreters?
What may be expected of educational interpreter
regarding tutoring support?
Why should educational interpreters have preparation
What are the expectations and responsibilities of the
(school) district when providing interpreting service during
extra-curricular activities or school sponsored events?
What is meant by the terms transliteration,
interpretation, oral translations, real-time captioning and cued speech?
What considerations are important when more than one
deaf or hard of hearing student is placed in the same classroom?
Are there unique qualities of an educational
interpreter assigned to work with deaf or hard of hearing children in an
early childhood (ages 3-5) special education or preschool classroom?
How are a child’s communication needs determined?
Should educational interpreters attend and participate
in IEP meetings?
What are guidelines for hiring an interpreter for
parents who are deaf or hard of hearing?
How are educational interpreter services written into
What are the required qualifications of an educational
Educational interpreters often refer to the Interpreter
Code of Ethics. What are they referring to?
Can I (school) hire someone with the Aides license who
knows sign language to interpret for a child if it is only for a short time
during the day or for young children instead of hiring an educational
Is there a resource for school districts when seeking
appropriate evaluation tools and professional development?
To see the full document, please go to:
The professional development need of educational
interpreters in K-12 settings is broad. Courses that increase knowledge of
academic content are valued. Courses in Spanish, advanced math and
science, reading instruction, computers, and health are all beneficial.
Other courses in child development and those that increase the interpreter’s
skills when working with a child with an additional disability are encouraged.
These may include courses on Autism, cognitive development, behavior patterns,
visual impairments, etc.
The EIPA is a diagnostic test that provides a lot of
feedback to the individual interpreter. Each report outlines areas of
interpreting skill and areas where they need to improve. These reports can
be used to self-design a plan for skill development. Each year workshops
supporting skill development for educational interpreters are made available
through the Outreach Program. For more information, please check:
The director for the Wisconsin Educational Services
Program-Deaf and Hard of Hearing is Marcy
January 30, 2014