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Rules for oral and sign interpreters

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Oral and sign interpreters may be approved to support students with a moderate to severe hearing loss, to address the delay in the acquisition of vocabulary.

Who can be an oral or sign interpreter

Interpreters must be skilled and a familiar communication partner with the student, for example the support class teacher or itinerant support teacher. The interpreter must not act in the role of a supervisor.

What an oral or sign interpreter can do

  • Access the examination paper up to 15 minutes before the start of the examination to familiarise him/herself with the content. During this time the interpreter must remain strictly supervised and may not communicate with the student or any other person.
  • Read or sign verbatim the directions to candidates.
  • Explain words or phrases in the instructions, questions and stimulus material.
  • Simplify the structure of a sentence grammatically.
  • Paraphrase questions. The student may write this rephrasing on the examination paper and/or check their understanding of the question with the interpreter.

What an oral or sign interpreter cannot do

  • Explain vocabulary specific to the subject, eg ‘bisect’ should not be explained in a mathematics examination.
  • Advise the student on the selection of questions.
  • Read or sign stimulus material and/or passages in their entirety.
  • Explain each of the alternative answers in multiple-choice questions. (If the student is perplexed by the answer choice, explanation of individual vocabulary may be given, provided that this does not indicate the correct response.)
  • Assist the student with planning or writing responses.

What extra time is permitted with an oral or sign interpreter?

Extra time is allowed for the time in which a student engages with the interpreter. The maximum time allowable is calculated at the rate of five minutes per half-hour of examination time. The supervisor will record the amount of time that the student engages with the interpreter and extend the student’s examination time accordingly.