While lively discussions may ensue in some PTA meetings, most are fairly routine and occur with little disruption. For the Arcadia Unified School District (AUSD), however, disturbances from language interpretation, which accommodates its large Chinese-speaking community, were becoming increasingly noticeable and problematic.
Director of Technology and Information Services Robert Leri reported that 65 percent of the population is ethnic Chinese, the majority of those speak Mandarin as their first language. While interpreters in the back of the room and parents did their best to be unobtrusive during meetings, it became evident that the district needed to find a better way to unite the parents linguistically, so they could continue to strengthen the education for the students.
Commitment to Outreach AUSD has already been doing a lot of community outreach to help all parents become involved with their children’s education. In addition to the language interpretation at PTA, booster, and other committee meetings, the district also offers community liaisons for ethnically perse families and free English classes to members of their community in an effort to help children more quickly acquire English skills.
Following suit, AUSD purchased a Listen Portable FM system to reduce disruptions from language interpretation, enabling them to continue providing the valuable service and conduct more efficient meetings.
Taking “Charge” of Interpretation the custom-designed system consists of three LT-700 Portable FM Transmitters with microphones, 50 LR-400 Portable FM Receivers with headphones, and convenient charging carrying cases. The charging cases were a major factor in AUSD’s selection of technology, according to Leri. “Other systems we looked at required a separate cord for each unit. That would have been a cord nightmare,” he said.
To facilitate quieter interpretation services and smoother meetings, an interpreter listens to the proceedings through the headphones of an LR-400 receiver set to one of its 57 channels. Then the interpreter speaks the interpretation into the microphone connected to the LT-700 transmitter set to a separate channel, which broadcasts a clear RF signal out a radius of 150 feet.
Listeners, equipped with the body pack receivers, hear through the headphones. Each unit has inpidual volume control so even guests who may be hearing impaired can listen to the interpretation clearly.
“This system really addresses the needs of the parents, so all of then can understand and participate in their children’s education,” Leri said. The district also intends to use this portable language interpretation system with its bilingual advisory committee, other parent groups, and possibly with students.