The role of sign language interpreters in kindergarten to Senior 4 educational settings

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Melnyk, Kathleen P.
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The trend toward mainstreaming, and the increased use of American Sign Language (ASL) as the language of instruction for deaf students, have resulted in an unprecedented demand for sign language interpreters in educational settings. The evolution of this position has led to controversy because of the lack of a clear role description. Individuals hired find themselves expected to perform a multitude of duties, many of which are viewed by their colleagues as being outside the interpreter's role expectation. The purpose of this study was to describe the current roles of individuals who are employed to interpret for deaf students in Kindergarten to Senior 4 settings in Manitoba schools. Using a survey format with the total population of interpreters (N = 39), it was found that job titles and job descriptions were diverse from one school division to another. Many training and workplace factors were identified that either assisted or interfered with job performance. It was concluded that there is a need for the development of professional standards regarding interpreters in educational settings, and that interpreting in school settings must continue to be a research priority.