American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Using Interpreters

When speaking with an individual who is not a near-fluent English speaker, one might need to collaborate with other professionals who speak the individual's first language. Interpreters may be trained to administer the activities and transcribe the student's responses. 

Interpreters' background and training can vary widely. Careful consideration should be given to identify the most appropriate person to assist you when working with English language learners. Keep in mind that you should allow ample time to prepare the interpreter for his or her role during the exchange. This is especially critical during testing situations. The more prepared the interpreter is, the better he or she will be at providing you with needed information.

ASHA's Code of Ethics prohibits discrimination in the delivery of professional services on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability. The ASHA Position Statement Clinical Management of Communicatively Handicapped Minority Language Populations states that interpreters or translators can be used with minority language speakers when the following circumstances exist:

  • when the certified speech-language pathologist or audiologist on staff does not have the recommended competence to provide services to speakers with limited English proficiency
  • when an individual who needs services speaks a language that is uncommon for his or her local area
  • when there are no trained professionals readily available with proficiency in a language that would permit the use of alternative strategies

The Assessment ProcessTips for Working with an Interpreter

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