Melissa Smith Ed.D., RID CI/CT, NAD V, EIPA 4.9
Professor and Director
ASL-English Interpreting Program
Palomar College
San Marcos

Possibilities and Pitfalls of Educational Interpreting

Dr. Melissa Smith presents findings of a study revealing what the role of a qualified educational interpreters, and why they do it.

Data indicate that the complexity of educational interpreting extends beyond the daily tasks of an educational interpreter. In addition, overarching motivations pervasive in school contexts inform interpreters’ moment-to- moment decisions about what to do. These decisions impact the school experiences of Deaf and hard of hearing students.

This presentation shows what interpreters need to know in order to be better prepared to meet the unique needs of Deaf and hard of hearing students in mainstreamed school programs.

Some strategies and ideas for how interpreters can more effectively negotiate situations they are likely to face in educational contexts are also shared.

Dr. Smith calls for a paradigm shift, providing compelling evidence that the roles and responsibilities of educational interpreters must be examined more thoroughly.

It is time for all stakeholders, interpreting practitioners, interpreter educators, teachers of Deaf and hard of hearing students, parents, students, teacher educators, and school administrators, to reach consensus about what interpreters need in order to work effectively in school contexts.

Lecturer Bio

Melissa is a professor and the director of the ASL-English interpreting program at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. She earned doctoral and Master’s degrees in Teaching and Learning from the University of California, San Diego, and a BA in Spanish with a minor in American Indian Studies from San Diego State University.

Her doctoral research explores the practices and decisions of interpreters working in public schools and was published by Gallaudet University Press as More than Meets the Eye: Revealing the Complexities of an Interpreted Education (2103).

Her extensive background in education, her own experiences as a second language learner, and her work as an interpreter and interpreter-educator allow her to examine the work of educational interpreters through multiple lenses.

More importantly, as the parent of a Deaf teenager, she brings a unique perspective to her work and presentations.


Interpreting in education. (2015). In H. Mikkelson & R. Jourdenais (Eds.)

The Routledge Handbook of Interpreting

London and New York: Routledge.

More than Meets the Eye: Revealing the Complexity of an Interpreted Education (2013)

Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.

Opening our eyes: The complexity of competing visual demands in interpreted classrooms (2010)

Ethical Considerations in Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Washington, DC
Gallaudet University Press

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