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Planning Special Education Parent Meetings: Don’t Forget Language Access

How schools can use Lionbridge’s over-the-phone interpretation services to provide language access to parents and guardians with limited English proficiency during planning meetings for students with special needs

As a new school year begins, K-12 educators, administrators, and counselors will implement educational plans for students with special needs.

Educational Management Team (EMT) meetings take place to make critical decisions about what the school year will look like for a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan. Parents or guardians are invited to these meetings to advocate for their child’s needs and sign off on plans.

Schools can use language services, such as Lionbridge’s over-the-phone interpretation services, to provide language access during special education meetings and enable parents or guardians to fully participate, even if they have limited English proficiency.

What Challenges Are Associated With EMT Meetings?

The special education process is complicated, and EMT meetings require a lot of planning. Teachers’ classes and parents’ work schedules make it difficult for all stakeholders — administrators, teachers, and parents/guardians — to be in the room at the same time.

Additional challenges occur if the parents or guardians have a limited understanding of English. Language barriers may make an already unfamiliar process more daunting, make it impossible for parents or guardians to fully advocate on behalf of their child with a special need or disability, and put them in a position of having to sign a plan they may not understand. In these cases, it’s important to remember to include another critical attendee — the interpreter.

The interpreter will enable communication and empower the parents or guardians to fully support their child. Providing language access during special education meetings will reduce frustration, strengthen the relationship between the school and parents or guardians, and increase the likelihood of positive educational outcomes.

Why Use Over-the-Phone Translation Services During EMT Meetings?

Schools are required to provide translation and interpretation services for any family who needs them, per federal regulation. To meet that requirement, an interpreter needs to be trained in interpretation and be familiar with specialized concepts and terminology in education, as well as the need for confidentiality.

A qualified interpreter is a critical part of ensuring language equity for parents and will help them understand and participate in decisions that affect a student’s educational progress. A qualified over-the-phone interpreter is available 24-7, able to be quickly retrieved, and brings language access into the room, even for languages that are rarely supported.

Lionbridge’s over-the-phone interpretation services make compliance easy and cost-effective since you only pay for the minutes you use.

Video meeting on a computer

How Does Over-the-Phone Interpretation Work?

Over-the-phone interpretation uses remote interpreters to translate conversations in real time. To use over-the-phone interpretation, a user connects with an experienced interpreter via phone, and either conferences in the other party or places the remote interpreter on speakerphone for an in-person conversation.

Interpreters are knowledgeable about the specific industry in which they are working and go beyond translation, accounting for cultural nuances or changes in idioms between languages. Since there is very little room for error, telephone interpreters are usually highly qualified professionals with a wealth of knowledge and experience in their selected field.

How Can Lionbridge Help Administrators, Teachers, and Families Collaborate Through Effective Communications?

Over-the-phone interpretation has been a part of Lionbridge’s services for over 20 years. Our qualified interpreters are well-versed in communicating in an educational setting, such as EMT or IEP meetings or parent-teacher conferences. It’s easy to use our telephone interpretation service. Simply call a dedicated hotline and get connected to an experienced interpreter in seconds.

Lionbridge currently provides telephonic interpretation to some of the largest school districts in the United States. Customers include the school districts of Los Angeles, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon, and many others.

This EdWeek article details the extent to which a Portland, Oregon school district goes to accommodate families with limited English proficiency through its language-access services department. Among their efforts, the district has created a Multilingual Special Education Family Toolkit and provides interpretation for special education meetings, produces translation for all written materials such as announcements and newsletters, and manages a multilingual family-support website.

Lionbridge can enable school systems to support families who do not speak English by helping them implement initiatives like these.

A man checking his daughter's homework

Why Choose Lionbridge for Over-the-Phone Interpretation?

Lionbridge’s trained interpreters in over 350 languages work every day to support interactions between schools and parents or guardians. By providing language access through Lionbridge’s over-the-phone interpretation services, schools will enable students with special education needs to get the services they need for a successful school year, regardless of the language they and their families speak at home.

Get in touch

If you’d like to learn more about how Lionbridge can help you provide language access during your EMT meetings with over-the-phone interpretation services, contact us today.

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Susan Gryder with Janette Mandell
Susan Gryder with Janette Mandell