Saturday, January 14, 2012

An Overview of Interpreting in Health Care

Through my postings I have tried to paint a portrait of interpreting and translation in the US and have focused mostly on legal interpreting.   Today I am writing about the National Health Law Program (NHeLP); a law firm working on health care issues.
With offices in Los Angeles (California), Washington (District of Columbia), and Chapel Hill (North Carolina)  NHelP is a public interest firm with the declared mission to foster access to quality health care for low-income and underserved persons.  While this firm does not provide legal services to individuals, it helps them by serving health care providers, community-based organizations, associations such as the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC), legal services programs, and others.  It works on issues related to Medicaid, children’s health, language access, court access, government accountability and health reform; the latter being the topic that currently generates the most heated debates.
Besides its work, what is noteworthy about NHeLP is the wealth of information made available in its website’s Publications section.  It includes Advocate – the organization’s newsletter, links to review articles, and publications on Medicaid, children’s health, language access, race and civil rights, reproductive health, and other areas of their focus.
Under language access, one can find articles on the cost of language barriers in medical malpractice, the obligations of health care interpreters in cases of child abuse, legal rights and responsibilities regarding language access in health care, etc.  Best of all, these articles relating to specific aspects of language access are available free of charge and in full text. The following two provides portrait of translation and interpreting in health care:
The former tackles aspects of translation and interpretation,  such as differences and commonalities between them, skills and qualifications, standards of practice, modes of interpreting, how to hire an interpreter, etc. The latter, aside from providing information on translation and interpretation (including an overview of “What is in a Word?...”), describes how to develop a language services plan as well as good practices for providing language services in pharmacies. 
It is worth noting that both documents include a glossary of terms that stem from the shaping of these fields in the US.  NCIHC‘s web site also has a glossary that is a perfect complement for these two. “What is in a Word?...”was, in fact, developed in collaboration with NCIHC.

I cannot help but marvel at how community interpreting has evolved in the US over the last decade, and feel immensely fortunate to be a part of it.

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