Growing the Field of Educational Interpreting, One Partnership at a Time
April 27, 2022
The National Association of Interpreters in Education (NAIE) is pleased to announce that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between NAIE and the Boys Town National Research Hospital’s EIPA Diagnostic Center (EIPA Center) to provide a framework for collaborative partnership and support.
Established in 2016, the NAIE is a member organization for sign language interpreters working in educational settings whose mission is to identify and promote standards of practice in the field to enhance the quality of interpretation services. Since 1991, the EIPA Center has developed and administered the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) tests. Both organizations provide information regarding interpreting practices as well as training opportunities for interpreters to enhance professional skills.
Deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind students who are placed in public school settings often require interpreting services to access the educational environment and communicate with teachers, peers, and other school staff. According to NAIE’s State Requirements for Educational Interpreters, forty-two states have the EIPA as an option for educational interpreter credentialing. However, the quality standards for interpreters working in education vary state-by-state, including the minimum required EIPA score, degree requirements, and continuing education requirements. NAIE is working towards standardizing minimum qualifications as well as roles and responsibilities of interpreters working in K-12 settings.
“The variation in minimum score requirements is concerning,” said NAIE Board Vice President, Dr. Deborah Cates. “We need more research on how interpreter EIPA score levels impact student learning outcomes to ensure states set standards that provide educational benefit for students.”
The EIPA Center offers both a written and performance test; the written test evaluates knowledge of the education setting as it pertains to educational interpreting services while the performance test evaluates interpretation skills specifically using classroom contexts. The EIPA performance test was originally co-developed by Dr. Brenda Schick and Mr. Kevin Williams in the early nineties. Dr. Schick, an eminent researcher and expert on the relationship between language and cognition in deaf children, also developed the EIPA written test and the website dedicated to interpreting in K-12 settings, www.classroominterpreting.org .
Stephanie Zito, NAIE Board President, commented on the EIPA Center’s historical impact on the field of educational interpreting: “Without Dr. Schick’s work on the EIPA exams and the EIPA Guidelines of Professional Conduct for Educational Interpreters, we would not have a foundation in which NAIE was built on.” Zito explains, “The EIPA Center has been supporting NAIE since the beginning and we are grateful for the continued partnership and knowledgeable staff from the Center.”
The MOU includes contributions from both organizations in three main areas:
- A national task force on certification – to support investigating the establishment of a specialized certification program for educational interpreting professionals.
- EIPA written test revision – to reflect current practices and professional knowledge pertinent to the role of educational interpreters.
- Classroominterpreting.org updates – to support the sharing of information and resources on professional standards and testing.
“Boystown National Research Hospital is honored to join NAIE in a collaborative venture to enhance and continue to develop the field of educational interpreting,” said Dr. Catherine Carotta, Associate Director. “We view this partnership as a valuable contribution to the educational outcomes of students who are Deaf or hard of hearing.”
The agreement also outlines ongoing strategies for both organizations to cooperatively share information and support each other’s programs and services. “Our shared goals could not be more aligned as we work to enhance the quality of educational interpreting services across the country,” Zito said.