BEI Hispanic Trilingual Interpreter Certification

Terrell I. Murphy

Texas BEI Hispanic Trilingual Interpreter Certification Begins

Texas has more than 1,200 miles of border with Mexico and an ever-growing
population of citizens of Hispanic descent, and Spanish is still the first
language for many of them. Deaf children of Spanish speaking families go to
school in Texas and learn ASL and English, but then their families may only
know Spanish. This creates a communication barrier within families that
also reaches far and wide into other situations. The Office for Deaf and
Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS), under the Texas Department of Assistive and
Rehabilitative Services (DARS), responded to recommendations by their
consumer-based Trilingual Task Force, established in 1994, about the need
for qualified trilingual interpreters.

“There was a clearly identified need for trilingual interpreters but no way
to verify and document that an interpreter had trilingual skills, or the
level of those skills,” said David Myers, DHHS Director, who led the effort
to develop the test program.

DHHS partnered with the University of Arizona National Center for
Interpretation Testing, Research and Policy, to develop trilingual
interpreter tests for certification of interpreters with skills to translate
between ASL, English, and Spanish. This test development was made possible
by a federal grant and by collaboration with experts from the DHHS-Board
for Evaluation of Interpreters, University of Arkansas, University of
Illinois, and other resources. A panel of experts worked with the Arizona
team to develop the tests, with assistance from an advisory group made up of
Hispanic deaf consumers and trilingual interpreters who gave their input to
the project. Pilot testing was conducted with interpreters from several
states. The test program consists of a written Test of Spanish Proficiency
and performance tests at two levels, Advanced and Master. The tests are
valid and reliable. Applicants must have specific BEI or RID certification
in order to qualify to take the trilingual tests.

The BEI Trilingual Certification Program was initiated in January 2010. To
date, seven trilingual interpreters have been awarded Trilingual
Certification. Plans are under way to offer testing at several locations in
Texas. Already some candidates from out of state have traveled to Texas to
take the tests.

For more information about the BEI Trilingual Certification contact Yolanda
Chavira, DHHS trilingual interpreter and member of the Panel of Experts, at
[email protected] or Angela Bryant, BEI Administrator,
[email protected].

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