Sign Language InterpretingWe know school districts around the state are actively engaged in planning for the 2020-2021 school year. Remote learning may be an important piece in the puzzle of delivering education to students.

Designing accessible curriculum for students who are Deaf requires a team approach. One essential member of the team is the Deaf student themselves. Each student is an individual and there is no one–size-fits-all solution. For students who have on-site interpreters, being able to use the same provider whether the education is delivered in-person or online is a plus. Consistency will support the student.

The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes also recommends partnering with providers not only for the instruction but also for the instructional planning.

Pine Tree Society’s team includes an on staff native language specialist, a certified teacher of the Deaf, expertise in educational settings and expertise with video remote interpreting (VRI).

According to Maura Nolin, director of Interpreting and a certified teacher of the deaf, a strong team for a student may include both a special education teacher and a teacher of the Deaf.

“A special education teacher is a generalist with a broad knowledge base to ensure success for students with a wide range of disabilities,” she said.  “A teacher of the Deaf is a specialist whose training emphasized strategies for children who are Deaf. Together they round out a team.”

Pine Tree Society was a pioneer in the field of video relay interpreting in Maine. More than 20 years ago, Pine Tree Society was part of the Maine Telehealth Grant, a federally funded grant to ensure access to rural residents.

“We have always seen technology as playing an important role in meeting the needs of people in rural parts of our state,” said Teresa Berkowitz, Chief Operation Officer of Pine Tree Society.  “We were quickly able to apply our knowledge and capacity to provide high quality services via video during the COVID pandemic.”

There’s a lot to consider when planning remote instruction for Deaf students. Pine Tree Society’s sign language interpreters are trained on video interpreting and have secure systems that meet the standards for HIPAA and education confidentiality.

Our ease of shifting from in-person to video-remote benefits students and education teams because there is one less thing to worry about.  We want to share our expertise.

Learn more about how Pine Tree Society can partner with you to meet the needs of Deaf students.  Contact Maura Nolin at 207-386-5971 or  We are happy to customize a program to meet the needs of your students with the flexibility that may be needed the 20/21 school year.

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