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Educational Interpreting: How It Can Succeed|
TABLE 1 Summary of Variables for K-12 Educational Interpreters: Then and Now
The K–12 educational interpreter performs a variety of duties in addition to the primary responsibility of interpreting in the classroom. Traditionally, these have been assigned because there is no one else to do them and not because an assessment has been conducted of the best practices of educational interpreting nor even an assessment of the parameters of interpreting. Some of these duties vary in frequency depending on which state the interpreter works in and whether the interpreter is employed in a rural or urban setting. On the job, the K–12 educational interpreter transliterates using an English-based sign system. This person will primarily sign using methodical signs, although she (sometimes, he) also may use a manually coded English system. The K–12 educational interpreter rarely (by definition) interprets.
The notion of the “professional educational interpreter” must be introduced into this discussion to help us view the bigger picture. Mills (1996) states that educational interpreters are professionals. This statement sounds plausible but, in fact, is not based on empirical evidence. We simply do not know about 50 percent of the K–12 educational interpreter workforce and, because no uniform standards exist, we cannot say with certainty how many professional K–12 educational interpreters exist. The term professional means “conforming to the rules or standards of a profession (Webster’s 1996, 1998) and one who “possesses distinctive qualifications” (WorldNet 1.6 1997).