The key role of Educational Interpreters

The Victorian Deaf Education Institute (VDEI) is celebrating 10 years of supporting the improvement of educational outcomes for Victorian students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

More than 4500 students in Victorian schools have a hearing loss and many of these students access their learning environment through Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Providing communication access for Victorian students who are deaf or hard of hearing through Auslan is an important role of educational interpreters.

Educational interpreters are specialist support staff who work in partnership with classroom teachers to provide communication and linguistic access to the learning environment.

Daniel Hately, a specialist project officer at VDEI, is leading the Educational Interpreters Workforce Initiative.

'These interpreters have a detailed understanding of the learning and development needs of deaf and hard of hearing students and have the language skills to clearly transfer learning content into Auslan,' Daniel said. 

Recently, Auslan interpreters have become a common sight on television and in other media, ensuring information is accessible in real time for the deaf community.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the bushfires emergency, communication has been critical. Daniel played a key role in making information accessible by working as an Auslan media interpreter alongside Premier Daniel Andrews and various ministers as they addressed the Victorian community in daily briefings.

'We are seeing government agencies recognising the importance of providing accessible information for all Victorian people in an emergency,' Daniel said. 

'Providing information in Auslan enables deaf people to be acutely aware of an unfolding situation and make immediate and informed decisions to keep themselves, their families and their community safe.

'Access to information is something many people take for granted.'

VDEI is committed to identifying evidence that informs leading practice in the educational interpreting workforce. Daniel's role at VDEI means he can work with interpreters to improve educational outcomes for Victorian students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

VDEI's commitment to inclusive education for deaf and hard of hearing students is further highlighted by the institute's role in:

  • delivering excellence in professional learning
  • engaging in research projects to identify leading practice in teaching and learning to improve educational, social and wellbeing outcomes of children and young people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • implementing technology that enables improved curriculum access and inclusion for students who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • promoting the specialised skills of teachers of the deaf and allied professionals by supporting the role they play in providing educational experiences that are inclusive and rewarding for all students
  • contributing to the development of a local and global learning community by strengthening networks for knowledge-sharing and capability building