Immigration Reform: Re[forming] Theories and Cyber-Designs

Immigration Reform: Re[forming] Theories and Cyber-Designs

Barbara Heifferon (Louisiana State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-833-0.ch028
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Abstract

This chapter focuses on the theoretical preparation of students who design digital media for other cultural groups. Some designers of cross-cultural e-communication assume that the localization of document design is no longer preferable. However, the fact that we have the technical capability to distribute documents universally does not mean we cannot localize content. Universalizing some projects, such as online health care materials to address Spanish-speakers, when audiences with different needs speak Spanish in the U.S., can be less than effective. To address these ideas, this chapter first articulates the theoretical preparation of students to design online materials for different cultural audiences. Secondly, the author also discusses local application and pedagogy related to this process.
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Significance And Terminology

Most professional communication students are aware of translation issues in U.S. workplaces. In many cases, these translation issues involve not creating materials for overseas audiences, but developing texts for U.S.-based workers who are not native speakers of English. One particularly important kind of information within this context is health-related information that workers/individuals must have access to in order to get the treatment needed to address a variety of medical conditions and situations. In the U.S., the largest population most in need of non-English-language health materials and translators is Spanish-speakers.2 This particular population, moreover, continues to grow – and to grow rapidly – in relation to other cultural and linguistic groups in the U.S.

Immigration from Latin and South America, for example, is still growing, and as a result, “the diversity of the United States population continues to change at a rapid pace” (Nelson, Brownson, Remington, & Parvanta, 2002, p. 209). In 2000, for example, an estimated ten percent of the U.S. population was not born in this country. At the same time, figures from 2005 show approximately 42,687,224 Hispanics in the U.S, out of which one in five speak English (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006). English is then a second or even third language for most of those persons born outside of the United States (Gudykunst & Mody, 2002). As a result, a growing number of individuals in direct need of medical attention are arriving at emergency rooms and doctors’ offices where they are unable to understand English and provide the answers needed to receive effective medical care. (This communication disconnect is only made more complex by the use of medical jargon in such contexts.) In such scenarios, translators are not always available or are often not available in the numbers needed to provide effective translation (i.e., effective care) to all non-English-speaking patients. These factors reveal a need for our students to learn how to develop effective online materials – particularly health and medical materials – for the increasingly diverse local workplace.

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