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A COMMITMENT TO PROFESSIONALISM: EDUCATIONAL INTERPRETING STANDARDS WITHIN A LARGE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM Phyllis Wilcox Fred Schroeder Theresa Martinez Interpreter supply & demand Many schools have found that signed language interpreters are needed if hearing impaired students are to achieve their potential within the public school systems. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, (RID) is vitally interested in the professional advancement of interpreters and their effective use to implement school programs serving hearing impaired students across the country, but cooperation between schools and interpreters at the community level is essential. The interpreter service provided by the public school system of Albuquerque, New Mexico and the interpreter training program at the University of New Mexico provide what we believe is a unique example of school and university cooperation. We will first trace the initial motivation to hire interpreters, and then examine what led to the decision to hire only college-educated interpreters who also hold certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. The beginning During the spring of 1978, Karen Pullen, a teacher of hearing impaired students at Del Norte High School in Albuquerque, met with Phyllls Wilcox, coordinator of the University of New Mexico's signed language classes. They agreed to explore the possibility of using a volunteer approach, with the university students in the signed language classes offering interpreting services to the hearing impaired students in Del Norte High School. The Albuquerque public schools at that time had no provision for staff interpreting services. A pilot program was initiated @1990 by Linstok Press, Inc. See note inside front cover. ISSN 0302-1475 Wilcox, Schroeder, Martinez for one week near the end of the spring semester. An informal survey revealed support for the use of student interpreters in the classrooms. During the summer of 1978 a meeting was held to discuss the possibility of establishing an interpreting practicum program, with the university students receiving university credit. Attending this initial meeting were Jane Blumenfeld, North Area Director of Special Education; Dr. Lloyd Lamb, chairman of Communicative Disorders Department; Belva Whitfield, North Area Coordinator of Oral Language Speech and Hearing, Phyllis Wilcox; Karen Pullen; Judy Larson, Speech and Hearing Specialist; and Charleen Brewer, interpreter. The interpreting practicum was approved by the North Area director of Special Education. Student interpreters were selected from students who had already completed the three courses of signed language offered at UNM (the four-year Bachelor of Science Degree in Sign Language Interpreting program was not established until 1983). At one point during this meeting it was suggested that the practicum students be hired to interpret in the Albuquerque public schools. Discussion ensued as to why this was not in the best interests of the hearing impaired students: in that way the school would have no guarantee of confidentiality, appropriate professional behavior, or adequate interpreting ability of interpreters without RID credentials. The consensus was that the long range goal would be to use only RID certified interpreters within the Albuquerque public schools. In 1978, Public Law 94-142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act) was being implemented nationwide. In New Mexico, the State Board of Education elected not to accept funding under the Act, believing that the state was already meeting the intent of the law through its special education programs. The State Board felt that 94-142 funding would unnecessarily burden local districts and unnecessarily bureaucratize the administration of special education programs. A coalition of special education professionals, advocacy groups, and parents challenged the State Board's assertion that Special Education Programs already in place satisfied the requirements of federal law. A court action was filed resulting in a decision by Federal District Judge Edward Mechum requiring various ancillary services to be made available to special education students throughout the state. SILS 68 School interpreting standards In January, 1979, first full-time interpreter was hired to work in the Albuquerque Public School District's Hearing Impaired Special Education Program at McKinley Middle School. The purpose was to help mainstream hearing impaired students into the regular classes. This interpreter was RID certified, demonstrating the awareness of administrators and educators of the importance of certification. (A part-time interpreter who had been in the system on a...


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