October 14, 2011

Unprofessional & Unqualified Interpreters, Better Than No Interpreters?

I came across this article about a high school student who filed a complaint with the Iowa Department of Education because she felt she was provided poorly trained interpreters with inadequate skills.

Here is part of the article:

“It’s interesting to me that there’s never a question if a teacher has to be highly qualified,” Prickett said. “And yet the person conveying every word to the child would not have to be highly qualified?”

Moratz — a straight-A student — is deaf in her right ear and wears a hearing aid in her left, where she has partial hearing. Her first three years of high school were spent with interpreters who were using temporary interpreters’ licenses and had not passed the national test.

The results were devastating, she said. At times, her interpreter would translate inaccurately or skip words because she couldn’t keep up.

 Other times, some of her interpreters would engage in conversations with others, making it difficult for Moratz to pick up key conversations and educational instruction.

Moratz wrote a 16-page report for her advanced composition class in May, calling for stricter sign-language tests and a required four-year degree.

The family’s complaint was dismissed because Iowa law allows districts to hire people with temporary interpreter licenses, which are granted to employees who have not passed the test. Such licenses can be used for up to four years. Catherine Moratz, Meghan’s mother, said that’s too long.

“She would come home from school and be so upset, but there was nothing we could do because the law said a temporary license was essentially the same as a license by exam,” Catherine Moratz said.

“Last year I would sometimes come home and just cry,” Moratz said. “It was so frustrating.”

But Lisa Van Sant, Jayden’s mother, questions whether having no interpreter is better than using an interpreter who can’t pass the test.

How frustrating.

What are your thoughts? Discuss!



  1. We make sure our educators can speak whatever language they are educating in. A teacher teaching at an English school has to be able to speak English. A teacher teaching at a Spanish school has to be able to speak Spanish.
    These are not things that we question.
    It bothers me that the message we are sending to students using interpreters under this model of "some is better than none" is that they don't deserve the same quality of education as everyone else. I don't feel that that is right.
    However, as someone who is still waiting for the school to step up and provide accommodations, right now I would welcome anything.

  2. they should hire a cart (hopefully the child can read!) other than that, those interpreters need to get their certification instead of complaining about the test. And the school can post an advertisemnts that they are looking for a qualified interpreter

  3. I disagree what they offer unqualified intrepreter. If I own business, do u think I hire unqualified interpreter NO WAY! I rather high qualified interpreter because of business serious. I feel bad for all students suffer by cheap and lousey interpreter. Only they want the money and not care what the students needs. God judge them!

  4. That's really awful that they'd allow unqualified interpreters at all. I completely understand the need to gain experience - I myself want to be an interpreter - but why in the world would you not WANT to take a National test and be the best interpreter you can be? It's extremely selfish - they obviously aren't thinking of the student at all. You can't leave out information, especially for a child in school trying to learn.


Keep it civil.