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Comparison of Key Skills Between Educational Interpreters

by Julie Delkamiller & Deborah Cates


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Educational sign language interpreters have a direct impact on the student’s linguistic, academic, and social development (Cogen & Cokely, 2015) and yet there is scant research evaluating the effectiveness of interpreter skill levels on student achievement. The authors conducted a pilot study in 2018 in mock classroom settings which showed statistically significant differences in student scores on pre/post-tests based on the interpreter skill levels. These mock sessions were video recorded capturing the teacher, the interpreter, and the student interactions for purposes of discourse analysis. This presentation further examines the vocabulary consistency between two educational interpreters with scores of 3.0 and 4.0 on the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) within those science lessons. The relationship between the EIPA score, the product of the interpretation, and the message students received from the interpretation will be analyzed within the context of Key Skills and Major Features as identified by Dr. Marty Taylor (2018).

Participants will be able to:

  • compare and contrast the vocabulary consistency between two interpreters with scores of 3.0 and 4.0 on the EIPA.
  • identify potential impacts on student achievement based on the EIPA score and the product of interpretations.
  • describe the results from the research study and understand the plan for future research studies.

A white woman with ear length brown hair wearing black shirt smiles at cameraJulie Delkamiller, Ed.D., C.I., C.T., is currently an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha training individuals to be teachers of the deaf/hard of hearing and/or sign language interpreters. She holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership, a master’s degree in Learning Disabilities and a bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education/Social Sciences. Julie previously taught secondary students at the Iowa School for the Deaf for 11 years and has interpreted in academic, religious, video relay, and theatre settings. She has always had a desire to work with individuals on the margins of society and strongly believes that education is the foundational necessity in which to impact change. Being involved in preparing the next generation of teachers and interpreters is a passion of hers both in the United States and in Nicaragua. The importance of educating the “whole person” permeates every area of Julie’s personal and professional life.

A white woman with long red hair wearing green rimmed glasses and a brown shirt stands on the Gallaudet campusDr. Deborah (Deb) Cates is the Sign Language Program Coordinator at the Iowa School fo the Deaf. She oversees staff sign language development, the administration of the SLPI program, and educational interpreter professional development in the state of Iowa. Deb has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Davis, where she studied sign language structure and processing under Dr. David Corina. She has a long-time affiliation with Gallaudet University’s Science of Learning Center on Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2). Her research interests include the relationship between form and meaning in signed languages, bilingual education, and the cognitive demands of simultaneous interpreting. She actively develops research-based practices for interpreter skill development. Deb also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Deaf Studies with an Interpreting Emphasis from California State University, Northridge. She has fifteen years of experience in educational interpreting at the middle school, high school and university settings and is a licensed interpreter in the state of Iowa with her EIPA score of 4.7 in Secondary PSE and Nebraska with her QAST Level V in Interpreting.