Interpretation Services

Interpretation Services

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On site interpretation by Bilingual Counseling Assistants

To help schools maintain effective communication with students and families whose primary language is other than English, the School District of Philadelphia has established a position of Bilingual Counseling Assistant (BCA). BCAs are stationed in schools with large ELL populations. They work with non-English speaking students and parents, helping them with all school related issues, and provide on-site interpretation services for school personnel.

If you need an interpreter for a parent meeting, contact us at (215) 400-4240 in advance. We will arrange for a BCA to attend the meeting and serve as an interpreter.

When to Use Telephonic Interpretation Service?

The Office of Language, Culture and the Arts provides telephonic interpretation services to all schools and administrative offices of the District. The services are provided through a contract with Pacific Interpreters and are free for offices and schools.

Consider using interpretation service:

  • When you need immediate access to an interpreter
  • When an on-site interpreter is not available
  • When privacy or confidentiality is an issue
  • Even in cases when you are not sure what language the person addressing you speaks

When talking to parents who have difficulty speaking English, you should generally avoid using as interpreters:

  • Their family or friends
  • Minor children
  • Volunteers and untrained staff.

Using these people to provide interpretation services may often result in:

  • Omissions, additions, or change in content
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Parent/caregiver not fully disclosing critical information
  • District liability if interpreter is incompetent.

If there is no trained bilingual staff to assist you, we encourage you to use telephonic interpretation service.

How to Access a Telephonic Interpreter

  • Dial 1-800-264-1545
  • Pacific Interpreters’ Customer Service Agent will prompt you for the following information:
    • Access Code for your Office or School **
    • Language needed *
    • Your Name
    • Your Department/Office or School
  • You will be placed on hold briefly while PI accesses an interpreter. In most cases you will be connected to an interpreter in less than 30 seconds                                 

*  If you don't know what language your visitor/caller speaks, let them talk to the Agent. The Agent should be able to identify it for you.

**  If you need an access code to use the service, please call us at 215 400-4240. Schools can also get an access code for the service from their Regional Office.

If the LEP parent is with you in person, please use the speakerphone.

If the LEP parent is on the phone, please use the conference hold feature.

  • If the parent called you, press “Conference”, dial 1-800-264-1545 and arrange for an interpreter, once the interpreter joins you press “Conference” again.
  • If you are calling the parent, first call interpretation service. Once the interpreter joins you on the phone, ask them to wait, press “Conference”, dial the parent’s number, and press “Conference” again.


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