LDA of Illinois Position Statement Regarding Interpreters for Meetings about Children with Disabilities and Parent Participation

Given the consideration of the concerns and arguments provided in this document, the Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois take this position:

Primary Language

      LDA of Illinois believes that any reference to “preferred language” should be replaced            with “primary language,” consistent with the language of the legislation.

District/School Responsible for Arranging for Qualified Interpretation

      LDA of Illinois believes that the school is responsible for arranging for qualified            interpretation for parents whose primary language is not English for any IEP meeting, mediation session, due process hearing, or a Section 504 meeting, consistent with the    requirements established by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the US Department of Justice with respect to “ensuring meaningful communication with limited English proficient parents.”

Need for Interpreter Determined by Parental Responses to Enhanced Home Language Survey, Already Required by Law in Illinois

      LDA of Illinois supports the requirement that Illinois has that a Home Language Survey be completed by every student’s parent/guardian at enrollment time in a public school, the ability to collect information about parents’/guardians’ language needs already exists. The Home Language Survey has been required for decades. Information from the Home Language Survey should be incorporated into the district’s data collection system, along with the other information gathered through the Home Language Survey, and serve as the source for determining parents’ language communication needs for multiple purposes (e.g., information made available to all parents, including discipline codes and the like; notices about meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and all matters related to special education and related services (IEP meetings, multidisciplinary meetings, due process hearings and Section 504 meetings).

          Two Questions to Enhance the Currently Required Home Language Survey for                the Purposes of Determining Need for Interpreters at IEP Meetings,                                    Multidisciplinary Meetings, Due Process Hearings and Section 504 meetings

       LDA of Illinois believes that the Home Language Survey should require the addition of two questions. Those questions would serve to ascertain:

               a.  Whether the parents/guardians primarily speak a language other than English                         and if so, what language; and

               b.  Whether the parents/guardians would want to receive school information                                 translated and interpretation services in their primary language provided at no                       charge.

Required Training for Interpreters as Outlined in Public Act 102-1072

       LDA of Illinois believes that it is insufficient for the interpreter to be bilingual. A staff member who is bilingual may be able to communicate directly with limited English proficient parents in a different language but may not be competent to interpret in and out of that language, or to translate documents. Therefore, the interpreter must acquire the skills for this specific type of interpretation service through the required training provided for in Illinois legislation, Illinois House Bill 5214 that became Public Act 102-1072.