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A Special Education Primer for Interpreters Working in Public Schools

  • 04/01/2025
  • 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Live Online

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4/19/21 UPDATE | This webinar is postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date.

Webinar Description: Interpreters are frequently called upon to interpret for IEP meetings and other activities involving students with disabilities in public schools. This presentation will provide a basic overview of the structure and process of special education services for students with disabilities and the roles of interpreters within that system. Participants will learn about the federal laws and Supreme Court cases that underpin the special education systems in all states, including the types of disabilities that are recognized at the federal level. In addition, information will be shared regarding aspects of the system that vary across states.

The presenter will also briefly touch upon the requirements for oral interpreting versus written translation of documents. The presenter will discuss the different special education scenarios that interpreters may be involved with a particular focus on two areas: (1) communication with parents and (2) evaluations of students to determine whether they have a disability. The different requirements of these two scenarios frequently lead to confusion over the roles of interpreter and cultural liaison. Participants will learn how to use Minnesota’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Educational Interpreters of Spoken Languages to navigate these situations

Time: Date TBD

Presenter:  Elizabeth Watkins

Presenter bio: Elizabeth Watkins is a state and national leader in the development of appropriate evaluation practices to determine whether immigrant and refugee students have disabilities, based at the Minnesota Department of Education. Realizing that interpreters are vitally important to public school special education programs, she began to develop professional development for interpreters in the late 1990’s. Over time, she has developed basic and intermediate levels of training and helped to create two university courses in special education interpreting. She was also instrumental in the development of Minnesota’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Educational Interpreters of Spoken Languages. Ms. Watkins also a member of the board of the Interpreting Stakeholder Group in Minnesota and currently chairs the training committee.

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Midwest Association of Translators & Interpreters
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