Know Your Rights: Language Assistance in the Medical Field
For a few years now, I’ve been contacting community organizations (you know who you are!) to see about presenting to the Spanish-speaking community on their right to language assistance in healthcare. At long last I’m in the final stages of making this goal a reality with the help of Sacred Heart Center in Richmond, Virginia. Sometime either this month or the next I will be presenting at the center to Spanish-speaking community members about their right to interpretation services in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. I’m hoping for at least 75 attendees and will be spreading the word once I have a finalized date. If all goes well, this may become an annual or biannual event.
Unfortunately, I’ve encountered many healthcare facilities being unaware of their obligation to provide language assistance to LEP (limited English proficient) patients, and LEPs believing wholeheartedly that they don’t even have rights, let alone the right to language assistance. This lack of knowledge results in an underutilization of language services and a lack of accountability for it. I will also be walking people through the different steps of the complaint process because this information is widely unavailable/inaccesible in Spanish.
Medical Interpretation in Richmond and Special Considerations for the LGBTQ Community
This month I have also been invited to speak to this year’s medical interpreting class at my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)! I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity because I will be able to speak to students of interpretation and translation who are in the same spot I was in 5 years ago. Hopefully I’ll be able to answer some of the questions I only found out after graduating before these students embark on their interpreting and translating careers.
I will also be presenting on mental health interpreting. While completing my degree program, very little focus was placed on mental health interpreting despite it being considered part of medical interpreting. Some months, almost all of my assignments are mental health related! While I certainly can’t teach the students everything there is to know about mental health interpreting, I can certainly give them some direction.
Lastly, I will also be speaking about special considerations when interpreting for members of the LGBTQ community. Sadly, the professional linguist community is behind when it comes to inclusive language, especially in terms of nonbinary language, despite its widespread usage in the LGBTQ community. I will be speak about common misconceptions, need-to-know vocabulary, and even tie in linguistic colonialism. Language is valid if people use it!
So be sure to stay tuned for more updates! I’m going to try and post resources from my presentations here after the fact, which will likely include some Spanish-language content. Wish me luck![Cover photo: by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash]
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