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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Interpreting services (Sec. 300.34(c)(4))

Comment: One commenter recommended that the definition of interpreting services requires that such services be provided by a qualified interpreter who is able to effectively, accurately, and impartially use any specialized vocabulary, both receptively and expressively. A few commenters strongly recommended requiring interpreting services to be provided by qualified interpreters to ensure equivalent communication access and effective communication with, and for, children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The commenter stated that personnel standards for interpreters vary greatly across SEAs and LEAs, and requiring qualified interpreters would be consistent with the definition of other related services included in these regulations such as physical therapy and occupational therapy.

One commenter recommended defining the function of an interpreter as a person who facilitates communication between children who are deaf or hard of hearing, staff, and children, regardless of the job title.

Discussion: Section 300.156, consistent with section 612(a)(14) of the Act, clarifies that it is the responsibility of each State to establish personnel qualifications to ensure that personnel necessary to carry out the purposes of the Act are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained and have the content knowledge and skills to serve children with disabilities. It is not necessary to add more specific functions of individuals providing interpreting services, as recommended by the commenters. States are appropriately given the flexibility to determine the qualifications and responsibilities of personnel, based on the needs of children with disabilities in the State.

Changes: None.

Comment: A few commenters recommended including American sign language and sign language systems in the definition of interpreting services.

Discussion: The definition of interpreting services is sufficiently broad to include American sign language and sign language systems, and therefore, will not be changed. We believe it is important to include sign language transliteration (e.g., translation systems such as Signed Exact English and Contact Signing), in addition to sign language interpretation of another language (e.g., American sign language) in the definition of interpreting services, and will add this language to Sec. 300.34(c)(4)(i).

Changes: We have added language to Sec. 300.34(c)(4)(i) to include sign language transliteration.

Comment: A few commenters recommended changing the definition of interpreting services to clarify that the need for interpreting services must be based on a child's disability and not degree of English proficiency.

Discussion: The definition of interpreting services clearly states that interpreting services are used with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. The nature and type of interpreting services required for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and also limited in English proficiency are to be determined by reference to the Department's regulations and policies regarding students with limited English proficiency. For example, the Department's regulations in 34 CFR part 100, implementing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, require that recipients of Federal financial assistance ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by students who are limited English proficient, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The requirement to provide services to students who are limited English proficient and others is also governed by various Department policy memoranda including the September 27, 1991 memorandum, "Department of Education Policy Update on Schools' Obligations Toward National Origin Minority Students With Limited English Proficiency;" the December 3, 1985 guidance document, "The Office for Civil Rights' Title VI Language Minority Compliance Procedures;" and the May 1970 memorandum to school districts, "Identification of discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of National Origin," 35 FR 11595. These documents are available at http://www.lep.gov. We do not believe additional clarification is necessary.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter stated that the definition of interpreting services appears to be limited to children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and recommended adding language to allow children without expressive speech to receive such services.

Discussion: Interpreting services, as defined in Sec. 300.34(c)(4), clearly states that interpreting services are used with children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Therefore, a child who is not deaf or hard of hearing, but who is without expressive speech, would not be considered eligible to receive interpreting services as defined in Sec. 300.34(c)(4). However, such a child could be considered eligible for speech-language pathology services, consistent with Sec. 300.34(c)(15).

Changes: None.

Comment: Some commenters recommended including communication access real-time transcription (CART) services in the definition of interpreting services because these services are being used with increasing frequency in postsecondary education and employment settings, and familiarity and experience with CART services may better prepare children who are deaf or hard of hearing to transition to higher education and employment environments.

A few commenters stated that the definition of interpreting services appears to limit interpreting services to the methods listed in Sec. 300.34(c)(4), which exclude tactile and close vision interpreting for children who are deaf-blind.

Discussion: Although the definition of interpreting services is written broadly to include other types of interpreting services, we believe that it is important to include in the definition services in which oral communications are transcribed into real-time text. Therefore, we are adding language to Sec. 300.34(c)(4) to refer to transcription services and include several examples of transcription systems used to provide such services.

We also believe that it is important that the definition of interpreting services include services for children who are deaf-blind. However, because there are many types of interpreting services for children who are deaf-blind, in addition to tactile and close vision interpreting services, we will add a more general statement to include interpreting services for children who are deaf-blind, rather than listing all the different methods that might be used for children who are deaf-blind.

Changes: We have restructured Sec. 300.34(c)(4)and added "and transcription services such as communication real-time translation (CART), C-Print, and TypeWell" to the definition of interpreting services in paragraph (c)(4)(i). We have also added a new paragraph (c)(4)(ii) to include interpreting services for children who are deaf-blind.