Why Do Schools Need to Provide Interpreters for IEP Meetings?

Individualized Education Program

Why Do Schools Need to Provide Interpreters for IEP Meetings?

Both schools and parents share a common goal: they want the best educational experience for their students. At times, this makes an IEP necessary, ensuring that children with specific needs get the time, attention, and approach they need to excel. However, both schools and parents need to agree on the best way to proceed. That’s where IEP meetings come in. They serve as an opportunity to get all involved parties on the same page, ensuring a universal understanding before implementing an IEP. But if the student’s parents have limited English proficiency, conducting an IEP meeting is challenging. That’s why interpreters are so vital to the equation. If you are wondering why schools need to provide interpreters for IEP meetings, here’s what you need to know.

What Is a School IEP Meeting?

IEP stands for “individualized education program” and references educational approaches that are customized to meet the needs of special ed students or students with certain disabilities. Essentially, the IEP serves as a roadmap, laying out the details of how educating a specific student will unfold.

IEPs are a fundamental part of the public education system. Any student who may benefit from an IEP is eligible to receive one, ensuring they can have a robust school experience that helps them excel.

An IEP meeting allows the school and parents to come together to ensure the plan is in the student’s best interest. Participation for all parties is essential, as each participant has a unique perspective and insights that can assist with refining the IEP to help the student thrive.

The Goals of an IEP Meeting

Usually, an IEP meeting’s main objective is to discuss any prospective plan and ensure all parties are on the same page. It’s also an opportunity for the school to field questions from parents who may not fully understand how an IEP works or how it will impact their child.

Schools can also ask questions of parents. They can learn more about the student, at-home learning strategies, past successes and challenges, or other details that can further refine the plan.

Additionally, it’s a chance to get informed consent from parents. In most cases, schools shouldn’t alter an educational approach for a student without the parents being fully aware of the changes and giving their explicit approval. An IEP meeting ensures parents are part of the decision-making process.

Ultimately, the primary goal is to provide an exceptional learning experience for the student, above all else. That way, they are given the best chance at academic success, as well as positioned for valuable personal growth.

Why Schools Need to Provide Interpreters for IEP meetings

A critical part of the IEP equation is informed consent. Parents need to be fully apprised of any arrangements that are part of the IEP. Parents with Limited English Proficiency will struggle to understand the nuances of IEP.  A professional interpreter can help clarify and ensure proper communication.

While it may seem efficient and more cost-effective to allow an English-speaking student to serve as an interpreter for their parents, the student has a vested interest in the outcome of their IEP. As a result, they may be inclined to alter the information being shared by both the school and their parents, allowing them to request IEP adjustments that may not be in their best interest.

With an outside professional interpreter, a neutral third-party is translating for the school and parents. The interpreter has no specific interest in the outcome of the meeting. Instead, their goal is to serve as a conduit of information, favoring accuracy above all else. Interpreters are trained to interpret everything that is said in the room. That makes informed consent possible, as the parents will have a precise understanding of what the IEP involves.

Hosting the Ideal IEP Meeting with an Interpreter

When you’re preparing for an IEP meeting with an interpreter present, it’s best to take certain steps to ensure an ideal experience. First, it’s wise to provide the interpreter with a meeting agenda, written materials, relevant background details, definitions of technical terms, and information about each participant. This gives the interpreter a solid foundation, ensuring they can serve both parties well.

It’s also wise to determine the interpretation style in advance. In most cases, there are two viable approaches: Simultaneous and consecutive.

With simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter translates what’s being shared and relays it to the other party in real-time, speaking at the same time as the parent or school official. With consecutive, the person sharing says a couple of sentences and then pauses, giving the interpreter time to translate that part of the conversation before one of the involved parties speaks again.

While both approaches can work, deciding which will be used in advance is best. That reduces any confusion regarding how the meeting will proceed, making it easier for all parties.

Acutrans provides simultaneous and consecutive interpretation services for IEP meetings. These services can be provided in-person, through video or audio interpretation options. Interpreters assigned to IEP meetings are trained in the latest IEP technical terminology. In addition, Acutrans provides certified, notarized translations typically within 24 hours. If you need an interpreter for an IEP meeting, the Acutrans team can offer a fast, reliable, and professional solution. Contact us for a free quote today.