A Medical Interpreter Training Program and Signed Language Interpreters' Decision Latitude: Exploring the Impact of Specialized Training

A Medical Interpreter Training Program and Signed Language Interpreters' Decision Latitude: Exploring the Impact of Specialized Training

Jasmine Marin
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 35
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9308-9.ch018
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The certificate in healthcare interpreting (CHI) is a medical signed language interpreter training program in the U.S. This qualitative study consisted of focus groups to examine the effect of CHI on graduates' views of their role, responsibilities, and decision latitude. Analysis suggests that CHI may be shifting practitioners from a restrictive conduit model (taking no action when faced with a decision) to a values-based approach. Also outlined are features of the program that contribute to this shift.
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In the United States, the field of signed language interpreting has been continually evolving since the inception of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Inc. (RID) (2015a), in 1964. In the fifty-three years since, seminal disability legislation has vastly increased the demand for services and the field has morphed into a profession. SLIs work in a variety of fields. Common fields for SLIs include: Legal, mental health, video relay service, community, educational, and healthcare (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Inc., 2015c). The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Affordable Care Act have instituted requirements for healthcare providers about the provision of signed language interpreting for persons who are d/Deaf in America (Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2017a, 2017b)1. Accordingly, just about every hospital and healthcare provider in America meets the criteria established in those laws to provide and ensure effective communication for d/Deaf patients.

The requirement to provide effective communication has led to an ever-rising demand for qualified interpreters able to facilitate this in the healthcare setting. According to Mitchell (2005), approximately one million people above the age of five years old are “functionally deaf”. In contrast to this demand, very few formalized training programs of any significant length exist to equip SLIs to work in healthcare. To date, four such programs have been identified: Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Certificate in Healthcare Interpreting (CHI) program, RIT’s Master of Science in Healthcare Interpreting, St. Catherine University’s Healthcare Interpreting program, and Minnesota State’s Medical Interpreting Certificate. Many SLIs who find themselves working in healthcare do not have substantial training or credentials in this specialization. Further, even among generalist interpreters who work in a variety of community settings, there is little accord about the role of the SLI.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Signed Language Interpreter (SLI): A signed language interpreter who interprets bidirectionally between at least one signed language and another language. The second language is often a spoken language. Most commonly in the United States, SLIs work between American Sign Language and English.

Certificate in Healthcare Interpreting (CHI): Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) National Technical Institute of the Deaf’s (NTID) nine-month non-credit certificate program which is primarily conducted online. The program aims to provide professional development to working SLIs in the specialization of healthcare. At the time of this paper, all graduates of this program had to be certified and have experience interpreting in the healthcare setting in order to qualify to participate.

National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID): A college housed at Rochester Institute of Technology that serves Deaf and Hard of Hearing and interpreting students.

Registry of Interpreters for Deaf (RID): RID is the professional organization for signed language interpreters in the United States. They administer and maintain national certifications. Current certifications offered include: National Interpreter Certification (NIC), Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI), Specialist Certificate: Legal (SC:L). This organization is also responsible for developing and publishing standard practice papers that cover a variety of specializations, including medical interpreting.

Context-Based Ethical Reasoning: Critical thinking that involves an ongoing assessment and evaluation of the actual situation at hand. Outcome centered rather than rule based.

Role Metaphors: A series of models that have historically been used to describe and prescribe the work of signed language interpreters in America. Arguably, the most common is the conduit model.

American Sign Language (ASL): Primary signed language used in North America.

Interpreter Education Program (IEP): Generalist associate and bachelor degree programs that prepare students for entry into the field of signed language interpreting. Often include curricula on: American Sign Language, interpreting and translation theory, ethics, linguistics, discourse analysis, as well as general education classes required of any college student.

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