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Educational Interpreters

We are extremely proud of our team of educational interpreters at SCDEC. Over 90% of our interpreters hold NAATI accreditation at the paraprofessional level or above, and all of them have studied at the Diploma of Interpreting qualification level at Central Institute of Technology. Several of our teachers of the deaf and Deaf Mentors are also NAATI accredited interpreters. We appreciate having access to highly skilled educational interpreters is vital for Deaf students accessing the curriculum via Auslan. The resources, support, and working conditions afforded our interpreters are in line with best practice on an international scale. For more information regarding our educational interpreting team, or if you are interested in joining our team of skilled practitioners, please contact us.

Interpreters in the classroom situation are there to facilitate communication between the deaf student, the teacher and other students thus fostering independence in the deaf student – not dependence.

Interpreters will:

  • Convey the information as accurately as possible.
  • Display a professional attitude at all times i.e. be prepared and arrive on time to class. Preparation will be aided by teachers providing notes etc for classes. Politely clarify interpreter role if needed.
  • Wait outside the classroom for the teacher to arrive. If the teacher leaves the room during the class, the interpreter will use their discretion in deciding whether to stay or leave depending on class/individual’s behaviour or location e.g. in an area with dangerous machinery.
  • Position her/himself at the front of the classroom, close to the teacher. If the interpreter is required to move closer to the student they will move to the front again at the earliest opportunity to respect the deaf students ‘space’. (If the teacher moves around a lot the interpreter needs to decide whether to follow the teacher or stay in one spot).
  • Direct all queries from the deaf student to the teacher or other students to encourage inclusion into the classroom community.
  • Direct any queries from the mainstream teachers relating to a deaf student’s progress to the teacher of the deaf.
  • Foster communication between relevant teachers of the deaf in relation to issues regarding the student.
  • Dress in a professional and modest manner e.g. plain clothing that provides a contrast with skin colour. Jeans are discouraged and jewellery must be modest and unobtrusive.
  • Dress requirements for outdoor activities include a hat and sunscreen.
  • Aim to be unobtrusive in the classroom.
  • The Deaf Education Centre will endeavour to match the appropriate interpreter with the class content being delivered, and the nature of the individual student.

The interpreter should clarify difficult terms or concepts. It may be important for the interpreter to meet with the teacher in advance of classes to prepare terminology and to understand the goals of the lesson. Interpreters should regularly liaise with the teachers of the Deaf assigned to their students.


The interpreters should avoid:

  • Censoring or altering the content of the message – swearing, lying etc. should be conveyed faithfully.
  • Disciplining the deaf student (or any other students) or reprimanding them for inappropriate behaviour or language either verbally or non-verbally e.g. disapproving looks. Obviously common sense should prevail and duty of care must be acknowledged if it is a serious or potentially dangerous situation.
  • Engaging in inappropriate conversations with the deaf student. Subject related conversation / small talk is acceptable; discussions of a personal nature may not be.
  • Assuming responsibility for ensuring the deaf student works in class or ‘pushing’ them to work harder.
  • Interfering with the dynamics of the class. Interpreters should impact on the class as little as possible (i.e. be unobtrusive).
  • Acting as the deaf students ‘memory’ ie. if the deaf student was not paying attention or has forgotten something, they should be directed to ask the teacher.
  • Discussing subject-related issues outside the classroom e.g. checking if homework / assignments have been completed or asking about marks or grades achieved.
  • Exerting any influence over the deaf student. Interpreters care about the welfare of the deaf students by maintaining a professional student/interpreter relationship at all times. Becoming overly familiar with students is not appropriate.
  • Instructing the student where to sit – the responsibility lies with the student, however a degree of practicality and common sense should prevail if the interpreter cannot conduct his/her duties effectively based on a student sitting in an inappropriate location.
  • Becoming too involved with other students in the classroom.

Deaf students should be afforded the same rights as other students to make mistakes, misbehave, interact with their peers and to not pay attention i.e. be a teenager. These are normal classroom situations that should be dealt with by the classroom teacher who is responsible for behaviour management and the teaching and learning that occurs in that class.