LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - In a recent Facebook post by the Calcasieu Parish School Board, the district is in need of educational interpreters., but what exactly is an interpreter?
The Coordinator for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Vision Departments for the Calcasieu School Board, Christa Foolkes, says an interpreter is someone who goes to each class with a student and uses American Sign Language to help them learn as easily as any other student.
Currently, the Calcasieu Parish School District has two to three students per interpreter, but their goal is to have an interpreter for each of the 30 students in the district that requires that service.
There are many requirements one must meet before applying. One interpreter at Alfred M. Barbe High School said the job is not as easy at it may seem.
“You do have to know more than just the alphabet. You have to—I still have to study. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I still have to use resources and get out there and do all that stuff and still go to deaf socials and hang out in the deaf community,” Natosha Istre, an interpreter at Barbe High School, said.
While basic skills are a step in the right direction, Foolkes and Istre said it takes years to develop this skill.
“Immerse yourself in the deaf community because I think that is one of the best ways to actually learn sign language,” Foolkes said. “You can have a book and you can look at a book and look at each sign on every page, but, if you’re not practicing those signs and interacting with other deaf and hard of hearing individuals your skills aren’t necessarily going to progress.”
Foolkes said each interpreter has to take one of two tests in order to become certified. She said in order to apply, you have to be able to pass an Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) pre-hire screening.
“Both assessments test their receptive and their expressive skills. Their ability to sign whatever the teacher is saying, then also—that’s the expressive section—they also have to be able to understand what that deaf child is saying to be able to voice what that deaf child is saying,” Foolkes said.
If you’re interested in applying to be an educational interpreter, you can reach out to Christa Foolkes at firstname.lastname@example.org.