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Interpreters Help Students Connect

When Emily Brown graduated from high school, like manyInterpreter Emily Brown and student young adults, she wasn’t sure where her future would lead; until a course in American Sign Language (ASL) ignited a new passion. Now, she’s a certified ASL interpreter and has been a part of Kalamazoo RESA (KRESA)’s Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) team for nine years.

KRESA’s special education services include a wide range of support for students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Its DHH team plans and implements services for students based on their individual needs, while also working with families and school personnel to provide appropriate services, materials, and equipment. Interpreters like Brown are available for students with profound hearing loss. The KRESA DHH team currently serves 13 students through 11 interpreters.

“It’s my job to help the student communicate,” Brown said. “I make the experience as fluid as possible, so there’s no barrier in communication.”

Brown is currently providing services to students at Portage Central High School. One of her students is sophomore Kadeidra, who Brown met as a first-grader. “I’m the invisible person in the classroom,” Brown said. “She’s comfortable. She doesn’t miss a beat. She tells her teachers jokes, and I try not to ruin them!”

An interpreter is a bridge that connects students to their peers and their teachers by allowing them to communicate freely, Brown said. “I love seeing them make those connections.”

For more information about DHH services or special education at KRESA, visit

On Tuesday, May 4, voters in the Kalamazoo RESA service area will be asked to vote on whether to renew a six-year, 1.5-mill property tax millage to help fund the costs of special education in our local schools. For more information, visit the FAQ on our website here: