Step into the Dallas ISD Translation Services Department and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the United Nations. With interpreters who speak American Sign Language, Arabic, Burmese, Chin, French, Italian, Kirundi, Portuguese, Spanish and Swahili, you’ll feel part of a true global experience.
The cultural background of the staff is as diverse as the district, and represents El Salvador, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Burundi, Puerto Rico and Myanmar. These languages and cultures mirror the student population in Dallas ISD schools.
“In a district where Spanish-speaking students make up the majority of the student population, the need for language support to reach parents and increase their participation is critical,” said Ivette Cruz Weis, director–Translation Services. “Having such a large and diverse language department–we believe it is the largest translations unit among school districts in Texas—has made it possible for the district to increase its reach among non-English-speaking parents and provide much-needed language support and services.”
The department’s main goal is to keep parents informed in their language while offering school staff resources for efficient and accurate communication. A recent department survey showed that school staff that requested services agreed that the interpreters make communication with parents possible. They also saw an increase in parent participation at school meetings where interpretation is offered.
Last year, interpretation was offered at almost 6,000 meetings, making it one of the most requested services. Another popular service is the Interpreter Hotline, which allows the interpreter to lead a three-way conversation between parents and school staff. This expedites communication between school and parents, which is often crucial, especially for nurses and counselors who deal with emergency situations.
Document translation is also a high-demand service. Documents can range from handbooks to emergency letters and flyers to Special Education evaluations and reports.
In September, the department launched a new online form that will expedite service requests processing. For more information, and to access the forms, click here or visit the Translations page on the district’s website: www.dallasisd.org/translationservices.
Quotes about the department:
From district staff:
“The staff in this department always impresses me with their speed, accuracy, and courtesy. They allow our parents and me to speak at our own pace. Then, quickly, capture it all and effectively translate it as if they were the voice of the person who is speaking – simply impressive!”
“This email is to share my sincere appreciation for the service your department provides. I am a special education teacher and I am in constant need of your department’s assistance for multiple purposes, including general communication with parents and ARD meetings. I cannot say enough about how extremely valuable interpretation/translation services are, for without it, I could not properly perform my duties as it relates to communication and partnership building with our most important stakeholders.”
From a parent:
“Thank you very much to the teachers (teachers = everyone who works at schools) and the interpreters for the services you provided for us. When we first got here, we did not have an interpreter and were facing lots of trouble. However, it is so good that now we can understand the information we receive and communicate with the school. Please continue providing this service for us in the future.”