Why is the contract needed?
In compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the School District of Philadelphia (District) provides sign language interpretation services to deaf and hard of hearing students if needed or required by their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Whenever possible, the District assigns its full-time sign language interpreter staff to qualifying deaf and hard of hearing students.
The District anticipates up to two full time sign language interpreter staffing vacancies for the 2023-2024 school year. In addition, during the school year, there are occasional absences of District sign language interpreter staff due to illness and sick leaves. The District does not have its own internal substitute service system to handle coverages when needed for sign interpreter staffing vacancies and absences. To cover anticipated absences and staffing shortages, and to ensure that students who are deaf and hard of hearing receive the support they need every day at school, the District is proposing to contract with the Deaf Hearing Communication Centre, Inc. (DHCC) to provide credentialed and highly qualified sign language interpreters, and to provide Computer Aided Realtime Translation (CART) services when needed.
In addition to meeting IDEA mandates requiring the District to provide sign language interpreter service to deaf and hard of hearing students, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 36.203(a) requires the District to provide reasonable accommodations, often in the form or sign language interpretation services, to deaf and hard of hearing staff, parents and community members. DHCC has the capability of providing the District with highly qualified and readily available sign language interpreters to fully meet student IEP needs and the District compliance obligations both under IDEA and ADA.
How is this work connected to the District’s plan to achieve Goals & Guardrails?
Contracted sign language interpretation services will provide students who are deaf and hard of hearing with the supports needed to gain full access to instruction and educational opportunities, by eliminating discriminatory practices and putting them on an equitable playing field with non-disabled peers. Sign language interpretation services will enable students who are deaf and hard of hearing to reach IEP goals and make appropriate academic progress in reading, language arts, and math, and to achieve proficient levels in annual state competency assessments.
How will the success of this contract be measured?
The success of the contract will be based on DHCC’s ability to fill temporary and long-term staffing absences and vacancies with qualified and competent sign language interpreters when requested by the District
When applicable, is this an evidence-based strategy? If so, what evidence exists to support this approach?
To assess and evaluate the quality and accuracy of DHCC interpretation services the District’s Lead Sign Language Coordinator shall directly observe DHCC sign language interpreters deliver services to students in the classroom, and interview supervising principals and teaching staff regarding interpreter’s work performance.
When applicable, was a larger community of District community members and/or stakeholders involved in this selection process? If so, what groups and how?
Consistent with the District’s competitive procurement process, the selection of the Contractor included a committee of District staff with relevant special education, sign language, instructional, programmatic, and fiscal expertise who reviewed and evaluated Contractor’s RFP responses.