Personnel Improvement Center
        Customize PIC:         

Interpreter for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Interpreters for the Deaf who work in schools, sometimes called educational interpreters, serve as the communication link between deaf and hearing individuals in school settings. Since the preferred mode of communication of students with hearing impairments may vary, there are a variety of educational interpreting methods. These include translating spoken language into a signed system such as American Sign Language, silently mouthing the complete verbal message or its paraphrased equivalent, or using a cued speech method. Regardless of the mode used, the primary responsibility of the interpreter is to make communication as clear as possible for the student and for those who interact with the student.

Nature of Work:

  • Listening to the teacher and translating in the student's mode of communication
  • Understanding the cognitive and grade level of the student, thus being able to translate in student's best interest
  • Have a through knowledge of the continuum of communication skills and become proficient in the communication mode you choose to translate
  • Have knowledge and understanding of hearing loss, deafness and the deaf community
  • Have training or knowledge of the subject matter or curriculum being used in the classroom
  • Being a part of an IEP team that develops the deaf or hard of hearing student school goals
  • Educating the student, parents, staff, and teachers about the role of an educational interpreter and how to use one

Education Required:

  • Most states require a bachelor's degree or higher
  • Check your state department of special education or contact the National Clearinghouse for more information
  • In most states, you must pass a communication system proficiency level and have this examination renewed according to your state requirements

Personal Qualities:

  • Must be flexible
  • Enjoy working with school students and in a school setting
  • Have a strong English knowledge background
  • Is a team player-often work in teams with the teacher and school staff

Job Outlook and Advancement:

  • This related service is in critical shortage. There are positions throughout the country. Contact your state department of special education for positions available
  • Advancement is done through increasing and improving your communication skills to higher levels. Many states are recognizing the higher levels of communication proficiency in an educational interpreter
  • For variety of educational interpreter assignments, job placements can be in preschool, elementary, high school or college levels

How to Prepare for a Career:

  • Observe the educational interpreter in a variety of settings
  • Seek out local and national opportunities with deaf and hard of hearing individuals and programs related to educational interpreting
  • Visit your local interpreter agency or attend a National Educational Interpreter Conference

Resource Information:

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
3417 Volta Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Voice/TTY: 202/337-5220

National Cued Speech Association
23970 Hermitage Rd
Cleveland, OH 44122-4008
Voice/TTY: 800-459-3529

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
333 Commerce Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Voice: 703-838-0030

Check out some other great careers!

The National Center to Improve the Recruitment and Retention of Qualified Personnel for Children with Disabilities (Personnel Improvement Center). A Cooperative Agreement, H325C080001, between the US Department of Education and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Project Officer: Maryann McDermott
NASDSE | 225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 420, Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone 703.519.3800 | Fax 703.519.3808