Collaborating with Interpreters and Translators to Serve Multilingual Populations


Course Type: Video – 1 1/2 hours


The changing demographics in the United States has increased the need for interpreters which is particularly important when assessing multilingual students in schools. This course addresses how to best collaborate with an interpreter in deciding whether a student may have a speech, language, communication, or learning difficulty.

Join Dr. Henriette W. Langdon, author of Working with Interpreters and Translators and Professor Emerita at San José State University to learn how to successfully work with interpreters during your meetings and evaluations.

SKU: abad_0120 Categories: ,

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Additional Information


Adult, Early Childhood, School Age


1.5 hours


.15 Continuing Education Units


Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI), Evaluations



Dr. Henriette Langdon is Professor Emerita from San José State University in San Jose CA. She is currently owner and partner of Sunflower Therapies a practice that she runs with her daughter Dr. Maxine Starr who is an MFT and doctor in Psychology, in Rancho Cucamonga, south of California. Henriette has almost 50 years of experience working with bilingual children who have a variety of speech, language, communication challenges, and their families. She has conducted research on best practices on assessment and intervention for those children including on how to best collaborate with an interpreter/translator when the SLP does not share the same language with the child and their family. She offers services in Spanish, French and on occasions Polish. Today, she is happy to present information on collaborating with an interpreter /translator in our profession and welcomes the audience’s participation.

Financial: Dr. Henriette Langdon is receiving an honorarium for this presentation.

Non-financial – No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.

The process of interpreting is not new. It has been implemented ever since two persons who spoke two different languages needed to communicate. The same challenge occurred when something written in one language needed to be understood in another language. Formal practices for professional interpretation did not begin until WWI when representatives from different nations were sitting at the peace negotiation table. It continued with the trials of war criminals following the end of WWII.

Today there are interpreters and translators (I/Ts) who specialize in specific fields such as conference, legal, and medical. Another type of interpreting is the one implemented in the community like in law enforcement, banking, social work and in the schools. Students attending schools in the US come from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Special laws protect these students from being identified as having special needs when all that is necessary is specific instruction to become more proficient in English. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and other special education team members need to assess those students fairly (IDEA,1997). The number of SLPs who are proficient in other languages than English is quite small compared to the needs; only 8.2 % of ASHA members from a pool of over 200,000 can speak a language other than English, and of those, about 10% are proficient in sign language (ASHA, 2022). This means that the SLP has to collaborate with an interpreter to conduct assessments with students from linguistically diverse backgrounds. The presenter will share the laws that require SLPs and team members to assess the student in their preferred language and discuss when this process needs to be implemented.

Definitions of bilingualism and descriptions of the student’s abilities in their other language(s) are not always precise, so the SLP needs to connect with the families to determine who speaks which language in the home and which language the student responds in. Also, one needs to consider whether the type of language that the student is exposed is different (formal vs. informal). The responsibilities and skills of the I/T and the SLP will be outlined, and best practices on how to carry out the process will be defined. This includes team implementation of the Briefing, Interaction and Debriefing, or the BID (Langdon & Saenz, 2016).

The participants will learn that, for the most part, interpreters and SLPs should receive training on how to work with one another. Even though the interpreter might be very well trained, they may not have the sufficient background in the procedures that are followed in the schools and the vocabulary used in the process. The audience will learn how to best implement this process while interviewing the families, assessing the students, and sharing results at the IEP. In addition, preferred practices will be shared in case there are no formal tests in the language, which is in the majority of cases when the language is other than Spanish. The presenter will share studies she and a colleague have conducted in an effort to validate this procedure.

Selected references: Langdon, H. W., & Saenz, T.I. (2016). Working with interpreters and translators: A guide for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing, Inc. McLeod, S., & Verdon S. (2014). A review of 30 speech assessment in 19 languages other than English. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23 (4), 708-723. Saenz, T.I., & Langdon, H.W. (2021). Speech-language pathologists’ experiences with interpreters in the school setting: A preliminary study. ASHA, SIG. 1

Participants will be able to:

List the laws supporting the collaboration with an interpreter/translator (I/Ts) in the field of speech and language pathology
Describe preferred strategies in collaborating with an I/T.
List the I/T’s and SLP’s roles and responsibilities in the process.
Describe current evidence-based existing practices in enhancing the process and training of I/Ts and SLPs to collaborate successfully.

Time-Ordered Agenda
05 minutes- Introductions and Disclosures
10 minutes -Short Historical perspectives-Some Important Facts and Definitions
10 minutes-Laws and Where to Find an Interpreter
10 minutes-Which Language to Assess in? –
10 minutes-Responsibilities/ Qualifications of i/Ts and SLPs
20 minutes-Process of Interpreting (BID)- Applications to Assessment
10 minutes-Best Practices
15 minutes – Moderated Question and Answer Session

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