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American Annals of the Deaf

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In Our Hands: Educating Healthcare Interpreters
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Finally in this section, Moreland and Agan consider the education of interpreters working with deaf health professionals. While the number of deaf health professionals may be small at present, it is likely to continue to grow, making this chapter particularly relevant as we look to the future of the education of healthcare interpreters.

In the second section of this volume, we offer four unique perspectives on healthcare interpreting and healthcare interpreting education. In most of these cases, the areas of education discussed by the authors are relatively new; thus, the available studies on the topic are limited. For that reason, these contributions give more background than do the chapters in the first section, creating an important foundation for continued exploration of these relevant areas.

This section begins with an examination of the importance of the role of healthcare literacy in the doctor-patient interview. Many IEPs focus on educating students to work with college-educated, bilingual deaf adults. However, as this chapter points out, the deaf patients that educators are preparing interpreters to work with run the gamut from illiterate to highly educated. Written by a hearing signing physician (Kaufman) and a Deaf patient advocate (Hedding), this chapter realistically educates readers about the importance of understanding issues related to health literacy when thinking about patient access and care.

The next perspective focuses on the importance of the education of Deaf interpreters. Morgan and Adam examine their own pathways to becoming Deaf interpreters as well as documenting the important contributions Deaf interpreters have made and continue to make. Drawing on personal experience and current literature, they build a compelling case for the need for Deaf interpreters as well as professional training.

The third perspective is from two long-standing and active members of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care and its Committee on Standards, Training and Certification, Downing and Ruschke. They take readers through the development of standards for training for spoken-language interpreters, specifically in the medical field. Our field is often quick to make comparisons with spoken-language interpreters, and this chapter gives educators an accurate insiderís view about the challenges and successes of spoken-language interpreter education in the healthcare setting.

The final perspective is from Europe, specifically Great Britain, Italy, and the Netherlands. Three leading educators/interpreters/policymakers, Hema, Salami, and de Wit, describe the education of healthcare interpreters in their respective countries. With globalization, it is increasingly vital that educators and interpreters become aware of educational practices around the globe.

In closing, it seems timely to cite an incident that happened while editing this book. One of our Deaf colleagues stopped by to talk about a family memberís illness. When we asked about a specific treatment option that we knew she was considering, she said, ďI didnít ask the doctor about it this time, as the interpreter was already having difficulty with the more routine questions.Ē She shrugged, indicating this is a common and frustrating experience. Given the severity of the medical issue facing this family, it is unfortunate that important questions went unasked and that potentially neither the doctor nor the interpreter had any inkling that the interpreterís lack of competence was a barrier to access to healthcare. Consumers and practitioners in the healthcare system face a variety of challenges, but, as educators, the one that is in our hands is the education of healthcare interpreters. May this book be one of the guideposts for significantly increasing the number of qualified interpreters who are well prepared to work in healthcare settings.


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