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Student Disability Services

Interpreter Services

Butler University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations including excellent and timely interpreter services.

The individual requiring the interpreter is responsible for making the interpreter request; two weeks' advance notice is needed so the necessary arrangements can be made. Although attempts will be made to honor requests on short notice, requests which do not allow two weeks' advance notice increase the possibility that interpreter services will be unavailable.

Student Disability Services (SDS) is the department on campus that assists the Butler campus community in facilitating interpreter services. Departments are required to contact SDS for consultation whenever an interpreter request or question is raised so as to determine what is required, remain in compliance, and receive guidance about how to appropriately address the situation. 

Ordinarily, it is expected that the department will cover costs for interpreter requests for activities and events other than academic coursework. If a department wishes to be considered for University reimbursement for interpreter services, please forward written request to SDS at sds@butler.edu. The final decision regarding reimbursement lies with the Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Interpreter's Role

An interpreter's role is to facilitate communication and convey all auditory and signed information so that both hearing and deaf individuals may fully interact. This includes questions, answers, comments, and dialogue that occurs on the part of the professor/speaker as well as the other individuals in the class/meeting. The interpreter will "voice" for the deaf student if he/she does not use his or her own voice. In other words, the interpreter will vocally express in English whatever is signed, mouthed, or cued by the deaf student.

All interpreters who interpret for students at Butler University need to abide by the Code of Ethics associated with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner in all campus settings.

Guiding Principles for Interpreters

  • Interpreters shall keep all assignment-related information strictly confidential.
  • Interpreters shall render the message faithfully, always conveying the content and spirit of the speaker, using language most readily understood by the person(s) whom they serve.
  • Interpreters shall not counsel, advise, or interject personal opinions.
  • Interpreters shall accept assignments using discretion with regard to skill, setting, and the interpreting needs of the students involved.
  • Interpreters shall request compensation for services in a professional and judicious manner.
  • Interpreters shall function in a manner appropriate to the situation.
  • Interpreters shall strive to further knowledge and skills through participation in workshops, professional meetings, interactions with professional colleagues, and reading of current literature in the field.
  • Interpreters shall strive to maintain high professional standards as outlined more fully and comprehensively in the Code of Ethics. (RID) 

As mentioned above, the interpreter's obligation is to transmit information and facilitate communication while allowing the student and instructor/facilitator to actually control the communication interaction. Instructors/facilitators should refrain from asking the interpreter to perform other tasks, such as functioning as a teacher's aide or a participant in class activities, as this may interfere with the quality of communication provided and could compromise the role of the interpreter.

Interpreters at Events

Butler University is committed to ensuring its programs, services, activities, and benefits are accessible on an equitable basis to all qualified individuals with disabilities. For disability-related accommodation requests for:

  •      Clowes Memorial Hall and Schrott Center for the Arts: Contact ahurt@butler.edu
  •      All other Butler University sponsored events: Submit this form.
  •      For general accessibility questions: Contact sds@butler.edu or 317-940-9308

For disability-related accommodation requests, please allow two weeks' advance notice in order to allow adequate time to make arrangements. Although attempts will be made to honor accommodation requests with less notice, it cannot be guaranteed that without a two-week notice a reasonable accommodation can be provided.

Student Requests for Interpreters

Butler students who wish to request interpreter services should: 

  • immediately register with Student Disability Services by submitting the necessary documentation and by also participating in an initial intake interview in order to discuss current levels of functioning, accommodation needs, and policies and procedures.
  • utilize, every semester, the priority registration system offered to students registered with Student Disability Services. In addition, students should meet with SDS, every semester, as soon as they have completed their course schedule for the upcoming semester so that interpreter requests can be discussed and determined. Early discussion helps to ensure plenty of time for scheduling interpreters; at least two weeks advance notice is needed when making an interpreter request. Although attempts will be made to honor requests made on short notice, requests which do not allow two weeks advance notice increase the possibility that interpreter services will be unavailable. 
  • inform SDS, upon receipt of the course syllabus or immediately upon determination of need, as to any additional course related requirements that will require interpreter services. 
  • make requests for interpreter services by utilizing the Interpreter Request Form.  
  • inform SDS immediately about any course schedule changes. Adherence to this practice will help to ensure consistent and timely services. 
  • notify SDS immediately if a class has been cancelled by an instructor. 
  • contact SDS immediately if an interpreter does not show up for an assignment or for any problems or concerns. This will help ensure that the matter is addressed quickly and properly. 

Absence From Class

Students who expect to be absent from class should notify SDS as soon as possible (at least 24 hours in advance) so that the interpreter can be notified. Without 24 hours advance notice, the interpreter may still charge the University for the assignment. Students who do not give 24 hours' notice regarding a planned absence will receive an unexcused absence.  After three unexcused absences, interpreting services will be suspended until the student has a discussion with Student Disability Services. Students should either report an absence by email at sds@butler.edu or by phone at 940-9308. In the event a staff member does not answer the phone, students should report an absence by voicemail message both during and after office hours. Students who become ill and are unable to go to class must report the absence to SDS immediately (before 5:00 p.m. for evening classes) so the interpreter can be notified.

Student No-Show Policy

Butler University has adopted the no-show policy which is commonly used by colleges and universities. That is, a student who is absent on three occasions without informing SDS according to the guidelines stated above in ABSENCE FROM CLASS will be subject to suspension of services until they initiate and follow through on a discussion about this with SDS.

Late Arrival To Class

If a student is more than fifteen minutes late to class, it will be considered an unexcused absence. The interpreter will leave class and report the unexcused absence to SDS; the student will then be issued an unexcused absence.

Interpreter Expectations

Instructors/facilitators are informed, prior to the first day of class, that there will be an interpreter in the classroom or meeting.  Instructors are provided a copy of the written document, Information Regarding Interpreters on Campus, which provides information as to how to work with an interpreter. In every case, interpreters are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and to abide by the Code of Ethics developed by the Registry for the Deaf. Students should immediately report interpreter no-shows or any other interpreter concerns to Student Disability Services in JH 136.  Alternatively, students should be aware that interpreters are required to report student no-shows and tardiness to SDS.

Student-Athlete Requests for Interpreters

Student-athletes who wish to request interpreter services for athletic practices, games, and activities should make their interpreter request by using the Interpreter Request Form. SDS will forward the request directly to the appropriate Athletics department, which will then take responsibility for handling and funding interpreter services. SDS is available for consultation as noted above.

Tips When Working with an Interpreter

  • Please keep 'lines of sight' free so that the deaf student is able to access visual information. The interpreter will attempt to stand or sit in direct line with the instructor, the student, and any visual aids.
  • Interpreters normally interpret one or two sentences behind the speaker. It is important to speak naturally at a reasonable, modest pace, keeping in mind that the interpreter must listen and understand a complete thought before signing it.
  • Allow time during class discussions for question and answer periods in order for the deaf student to raise his/her hand, to be recognized, and ask questions through the interpreter. This will allow the interpreter time to finish interpreting the comments of other individuals in the classroom before beginning to interpret the comments or questions of the student who is deaf. It is also most helpful for instructors to wait until after the interpreter has finished signing the instructor's question before calling on a student to answer the question. This allows deaf students the opportunity to see the full question and then raise their hands if they wish to participate.
  • It is important to look directly at, and speak directly to, the deaf student as this is the individual to whom you are actually communicating, not the interpreter. The interpreter will interpret the exact words that are stated so please avoid the use of third party phrases such as "ask her" or "tell him".
  • For interactive situations, semi-circles or circles often work best for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
  • Try to avoid talking while students are focused on textual materials or in-class written work as the deaf student will be unable to read or write as well as watch the interpreter at the same time.
  • For classes longer than one hour, please plan for at least one five minute, mid-class break so that the student and interpreter can enjoy a mental and physical break from the rigors of the situation. Receiving information visually can be tiring and cause eye fatigue for deaf individuals.
  • The interpreter is able to convey one message at a time so it is important that only one person speak/sign at a time. Instructors should inform the other students in the class about this and encourage the students to wait until the instructor/facilitator recognizes them before speaking or signing.
  • Most current films are captioned as outlined by law. Captioned films are recommended because they allow the deaf student direct visual access to the information provided in the classroom. If closed captioning is unavailable on a movie or other audiovisual materials planned for use in the classroom, please contact Student Disability Services for a discussion as to how to best provide equitable access. In some cases, it may be possible for the interpreter to interpret the film but this requires prior discussion regarding a number of issues including lighting, positioning, etc.
  • For many deaf students, English is not their first language. In addition, some English words and terms do not have a signed equivalent. This may result in a deaf student having difficulties with the wording of some examination questions. An interpreter may be needed for the purpose of translating English text into sign language for examinations. The interpreter should not help the student with content or wording of his/her answer. Please direct any questions or concerns about this to Student Disability Services.
  • Some words, terms and names will need to be fingerspelled. Fingerspelling is a way of representing the alphabet on the hand and the interpreter will need to know the correct spelling. This can be facilitated by the instructor writing this type of information on the board or visual aid.
  • It is beneficial for the instructor/facilitator to provide handouts, presentation slides, and/or required readings to SDS prior to the first day of class. The information will be shared with the interpreter for advanced preparation for the course. SDS will also attempt to secure desk copies of textbooks for the student's required courses so that they can also be used by the interpreter for advanced preparation.
  • If the deaf individual(s) are not present when a class/meeting begins, the interpreter is expected to wait a few minutes for late arrival. If the deaf student does not arrive within 15 minutes after the start of the class, the interpreter may leave the classroom and is expected to notify Student Disability Services that the student did not make it to class. For your information, Butler University has adopted the no-show policy which is commonly used by colleges and universities. That is, a student who is absent on three occasions without informing SDS according to the guidelines stated in the Interpreter Guidelines for Students will be subject to suspension of services until they initiate and follow through on a discussion about this with Student Disability Services.

For further information please contact the Office of Student Disability Services in Jordan Hall, room 136, by phone at 317-940-9308, or by email at sds@butler.edu