Sign Language Interpreters in The Classroom

As an agency, we’re noticing a change in some of the job requests we receive, and we find it concerning.

Sign language interpreters are hired for countless environments.




TV and Movie sets

Corporate Meetings



It’s impossible to list them all.

However, one area where interpreters are often needed is in the classroom. For years, we’ve provided interpreters to assist deaf students as they navigate their way in pubic schools. Not too long ago, deaf students were taught in ‘Schools for the Deaf‘. As these schools were not in every town, children traveled to the selected school and lived there for most of the school year. This provided an amazing benefit for the students who thrived in an environment surrounded by their peers. Teachers and students communicated in the same language and children of hearing families only felt “different” when they went home. The downside? Children were separated from their families and school felt more like “home.”

In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142). This legislation protected the rights of children with disabilities and their families.

In the 1980’s , the concept of mainstreaming children with special needs into public classrooms became more common. This is also referred to as the 504 Plan.

In 1997, the law was amended under the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA), which strengthened the law’s requirements for mainstreaming, and led to students with more severe disabilities to be mainstreamed for more of the day – and sometimes, for the entire day. Deaf children would be entitled to a sign language interpreter to keep them in the loop throughout the school day.

Today, we are seeing a shift.

Schools are now often seeking teaching assistants who also can communicate in sign language for the deaf student. The focus is shifting from “assisting the child” to “assisting the teacher.” The assistant may help with grading papers, monitoring the lunchroom, creating bulletin boards, etc. Any time spent fulfilling these other activities, is time away from the deaf student who may be left out of current activities and conversations. The child’s mode of communication is cut off. Isolation and confusion begins in the moment the deaf child tries to rely on lipreading and facial cues to understand what is going on. That child’s questions go un-answered. That child feels “disabled.”

Understandably, School Districts are always seeking ways to save money. Sign language interpreters go through extensive training and are knowledgeable in Deaf Issues that go far beyond “knowing how to sign.” Teaching assistants are often less expensive than sign language interpreters. Ultimately, it’s the child who pays the price.

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

View all posts by Evelyn

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One Response to “Sign Language Interpreters in The Classroom”

  1. Daneiel Martinez Says:

    I have read out your whole post ” Sign Language Interpreters in The Classroom”. I really appreciate it. Do you have any idea to write on Learning Sign Language?Thanks very much for sharing the content.


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