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More than meets the eye : revealing the complexities of K-12 interpreting

  • Author(s): Smith, Melissa Beth
  • et al.
Abstract

Although many Deaf and hard of hearing children access education through interpreters, research on educational interpreters is scant and has focused on inadequacies of under-qualified interpreters rather than examining exactly what it is that qualified interpreters do. To determine the skills and knowledge interpreters need to work in K-12 schools, it is crucial to identify current practices of educational interpreters. For this research, three interpreters working in fifth and sixth grade classrooms at three school sites were videotaped and interviewed to explore what interpreters do in the course of their work, and to illuminate the factors that inform their decisions. This study reveals not only five primary tasks that interpreters perform, but describes in detail what interpreters do as they strive to optimize visual access, to facilitate the learning of language and content, and to cultivate opportunities for participation. Data indicate that even qualified interpreters are not always well- equipped to meet the essential needs of Deaf and hard of hearing students in K-12 settings. Results of this study contribute to our understanding of the complexities of interpreters' decisions in light of multiple and competing demands. Findings highlight the need for further research and serve as a call to action to improve the educational experiences of mainstreamed students

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