May 18, 2011

Should Students Have the Same Interpreter For Several Years?

In your opinion, is it better for a student to have the same interpreter for several years or the entire time they are in school (until they graduate or move away)? Or should they be exposed to different interpreters throughout the years they attend school?

Personally, I do not see anything wrong with having the same interpreter for several years, as long as the interpreter remains professional and meets the student's needs appropriately.



  1. The maximum number of years for a professional relationship between a student and an interpreter is 2-3 years. Anything longer than that, it becomes too personal, regardless how professional an interpreter will be. It is healthy for a student to learn to adapt to different people. It applies to a student to be assigned to a teacher for 2 to 3 years, not more. Two years is optimal and three years is the maximum number. For example, if a student starts at 6th grade, and he/she can have an interpreter for 6th, 7th and 8th. Not 9th or can be little bit too embarrassing, especially for social situations. The students will identify an interpreter as 'That guy's/gal's interpreter/helper" - it didn't help this student to form an identity.

    My humble opinion.

    Amy Cohen Efron

  2. Where can I find this information? I would like to have some on hand when I need it for a meeting.

  3. I didn't have an interpreter growing up so I can't say too much about this. I do think the first poster had some valid arguements. For me, I think it depends. If the kid is in a rural area and has a top notch interpreter, I think it would be better to have the same one for as long as possible rather than risk a mediocre one, especially for younger kids where language exposure is more important. For a more dense population that may have more qualified interpreters, I'd think it would depend on the age and personality of the student. Older kids may benefit more from different exposure because it helps them with problem solving skills. Youger kids may not have those skills yet. At the very least, I think kids should have the same (good) interpreter for the same classes or same school year, only because the interpreter can easily jump in since he or she is familiar with what's going on. That's my opinion.

    ~ jk

  4. I agree with what all has been posted. Finding a great match for the student is one area that I think about, to have access to learning new signs, increasing vocabulary is important. I serve as an Itinerant and often find that in the very rural areas the luxury of more than one interpreter is hard to come by. What a child needs in Elementary School is very different from Middle and High School, training both the student and Interpreter towards successful learning/advocacy/independence is truly a goal, so they can transfer that to post high school life. Again, I look at the needs of the child and really look at what will help whether they are in mainstream general education setting or special education setting. It does depend on the individual situation at hand. I use a curriculum that helps teachers and interpreters understand what we are striving for in helping a student use an interpreter and be a successful student.

  5. I think it is a bad idea. What if the interpreter uses a particular style and the student isn't exposed to other language models? They need to have a variety of language models to obtain age appropriate ASL. Think about the sheer number of people a typically hearing child hears speak over the course of 5 years. The number is astronomical. A Deaf child with an interpreter sees and signs to exactly 1 person all day long. That is a recipe for language gaps and holes.

  6. Thank you all for your thoughts on this. Gave me a lot to think about.

    But, overall, it depends. Like where I am, rural area, good interpreters are scarce, we will switch interpreters from time to time with some students, depending on the situation (interpreter not right match for student, student changes school, we lose an interpreter, etc.).

    I was wondering if, for some students, having the same interpreter is generally a good idea or if this is something that is done at other schools.

  7. Yes, it is better to have same interpreter in all classes is because this way interpreter will know what's happening, knows what's next.... the patterns. So, if have different interpreters it would make it harder because interpreter have NO idea like it's his/her first time being in class interpret for him/her and can cause lot of frustrations/tensions between interpreter and student(s), IMHO. I only had just ONE interpreter in entire school year in college. I prefer same one interpreter just like I explained why a while ago.

  8. It's what the student prefer. Who knows she probably feel uncomfortable with some interpreters and it would be bad if she is not allowed to have a different interpreter. For me, I hated my audiologist because he kept patting my lap, but my siblings used to teased me and used to sing "K-i-s-s-i-n-g" Song so that could be trigger the feeling of being embarrassed and uncomfortable


Keep it civil.