with Spanish-English Interpreters and Translators
share information and to communicate effectively, the service
provider and family must have a common language. Given the
importance of information related to the childs health,
development and education, qualified interpreters should be
used in conversations with the family related to special education
services. Similarly, documents and other educational materials
should be accurately translated into a language that the family
interpreter provides an oral translation of one language
into another, e.g., Spanish to English or American Sign
Language to English.
translator changes written materials in one language
into the written form of another language.
there are no professional standards for interpreters in educational
systems except for sign language interpreters, the skill of
individuals in the role of a Spanish-English interpreter will
vary according to their education, background, and training.
In many meetings with English-speaking service providers and
Spanish-speaking families, interpreters may be untrained volunteers,
paraprofessionals, family members, or even children. Depending
on the purpose of the meeting and the topic of conversation,
it may not be appropriate to use a child, friend, or relative
of the family. Whenever possible, it is best to use a person
who is trained to translate important and complex information
and to support everyones communication efforts.
for the Meeting
a qualified interpreter, that is, someone who is fluent
in both English and Spanish and if possible, familiar
with special education and terminology that will be
used in the meeting.
Spanish is the primary language of so many different
countries, the interpreter should know the familys
country of origin. Just as there are variations in the
use of words and their meaning among English-speaking
countries, there are also differences in spoken Spanish
depending on the country. In addition, if an interpreter
is familiar with the familys country and culture,
he or she can provide information about culturally respectful
the purpose of the meeting with the interpreter, share
any documents or materials that will need to be translated
and go over terms and other topics for the meeting.
Discuss the interpretation process with the interpreter.
To convey a message in Spanish generally takes more
words than English. Moreover, an interpreter may need
a lengthy explanation to interpret a single phrase in
English so that the family can understand what is said.
Ask the interpreter how much to say (i.e., how many
sentences) before pausing for the translation and discuss
how to check on whether what you are saying is understood
by the family.
with the interpreter the importance of maintaining confidentiality
about any thing related to the family and discussed
in the meeting.
the interpreter to contact the family to set up the
meeting and to get an idea of the familys use
sufficient time for the Spanish-English meeting because
it will take more time than a meeting in a single language.
the family know that you will be speaking to them in
English and that the interpreter will be translating
what you say into Spanish and what they say into English.
Encourage them to let you know if anything is confusing
or needs to be discussed further.
the family where you should be and where the interpreter
should be so that it is most comfortable for them. If
possible, sit directly across from the family with the
interpreter to the side close to them.
clearly and slowly. Pause to allow the interpreter to
translate what you have said and for the parents to
understand the translation.
at and speak directly to the family. Let the interpreter
become your voice.
not use professional jargon, slang, or metaphors that
are difficult to translate.
the interpreter to take notes and ask questions as needed.
your focus should be on the family, be aware of the
interpreters reactions that indicate whether the
communication process is going smoothly.
open-ended questions that relate to the discussion with
the family to be sure that they understand what you
information that the family has shared to confirm that
you understand what they have communicated.
a family member or the interpreter appears confused
about something that you have said, reword the statement
and provide a simple explanation.
the interpreter reflect on the discussion and evaluate
the interpreter to clarify any concerns or questions
about the meeting and to let you know if you did anything
that was culturally inappropriate with the family.
ways to resolve these problems or concerns in future
the interpreter and let him or her know the next time
you will need his or her services.
Taken from a review of translated documents fact sheets of
California Deaf Blind Services Fact Sheets and publications
of D-B Link.
availability of a glossary with definitions of specialized
terms in English would help translators and interpreters
select Spanish words that convey an accurate meaning.
common words, names of documents, or acronyms may
be communicated in English e.g., "IEP" or
(with a Spanish explanation of their meanings), as
families should become familiar with these words.
texts (from English to Spanish) must be "back-translated"
Spanish to English) by a different translator to determine
accuracy in meaning and to proof for typos and errors.
should be appropriate for the target population of
Spanish speakers in comprehension and literacy level.
Since Spanish-speakers come from many different countries,
appropriate words should be selected.
final draft of a translated text should be edited
by at least one person who is fluent in both English
and Spanish and is familiar with special education
terminology and the deaf-blind field, if possible.
would be helpful for the field of deaf-blindness to
agree upon the most appropriate Spanish translations
for commonly used terminology and concepts related
to the education of children who are deaf-blind.
be most appropriate and family-friendly, materials
should be developed and written in Spanish for Spanish-speaking
families of the target community. This way the text
will be both culturally appropriate and clear in context
speaking families must receive a copy of the English
document and the Spanish translation so they can share
information with other English-speaking service providers/agencies.
with Interpreters represents a synthesis of information
from Project SALUTEs focus groups, National Advisory
Committee, staff activities, and a review of relevant literature
such as the following bibliography.