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Black woman in a meeting on Zoom

This past month, we heard from special education parent leaders that translation is important in school meetings, but is not always available.

Language barriers prevent parents from engaging

Parents want to be included at the table and provide feedback on important school decisions. However, language continues to be a barrier for parent engagement. As school leaders, receiving feedback from everyone in the community should be a top priority. When school leaders fail to include interpretation in public meetings you are missing out on valuable feedback from a large portion of the community you may intend to serve.

Latina woman on Zoom call with Black woman

Simple changes to improve parent engagement

Parents created 4 quick tips your schools and districts can use when facilitating meetings with parents:

    1. Use zoom registration to plan for interpretation. As district leaders it’s important to know who’s in the room and what their primary languages are. Setting up this feature will help you to connect with your audience and prepare beforehand. Setting up this feature will help you to connect with your audience and prepare beforehand

Set required registration for Zoom meeting

2. Have interpretation available for ALL PUBLIC MEETINGS. Use zoom simultaneous interpretation feature. It allows for equal participation between participants. Make sure to hire trained interpreters. We utilize new voice interpreters to conduct simultaneous interpretation at our parent meetings.

Set Zoom's language interpretation

3. Use breakout rooms to have small group conversations. Allow for feedback and more voice in breakout sessions. Organize breakout rooms by language and have trained interpreters in each room to do consecutive interpretation.

Locate Zoom's breakout room feature

4. Use closed captioning to increase accessibility. In your zoom setting you can turn the closed captioning feature on.

Locate Zoom's closed captioning button

Overall, school leaders who work with families can use zoom features as a way to ensure that parent engagement is a top priority. As a community, we can learn a few tips from our parents to create meaningful relationships that result in lasting changes.


Innovate Public Schools is a nonprofit community organization that builds the capacity of parents and educators working together to create excellent and equitable public schools.