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Language Access Helps Health and Human Services Professionals Communicate

The Office of Interprofessional Student Learning and Service Initiatives (ISLSI) started Hispanic Heritage Month with two events focused on language access, “Nos Entendemos? The Value of Linguistic Competence in Serving the Latinx Population” and “Aquí Se Habla Español: Language Access in Health Care Services.”

Language access is the oral and written language services needed to assist English language learners and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate effectively with practitioners and administrators. Both events discussed language access services as a protected right for all people and a responsibility of all programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It reads, “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

The first event, “Nos Entendemos? The Value of Linguistic Competence in Serving the Latinx Population,” was facilitated by Sandra Quezada, MD, MS, assistant dean for admissions and assistant dean for Academic and Multicultural Affairs at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The presentation focused on the responsibility of health and human services practitioners to provide quality service, care, and education to clients, patients, and students by utilizing language access services.

The second event, “Aquí Se Habla Español: Language Access in Health Care Services,” was facilitated by Veronique Felix of Maryland Legal Aid. This session defined common terms, regulations, and best practices in regard to language access resources.

Both presenters shared helpful protocol on when and how to use language access services. Here is a summary of those suggestions.

  • Be sure to ask clients and patients if they would like to have a free translator to communicate.
  • Always aim to make language access accommodations when an appointment is being scheduled or before the client or patient arrives to receive service or conduct business.
  • Do not use friends, family, or untrained staff as translators.
  • Be sure to have documents and any written correspondence translated for clients and patients into the native language.
  • Be sure all staff members are trained and knowledgeable about the language access resources available and know how to access and use those resources.
  • When working in person with an interpreter, speak directly to your client or patient rather than speaking to the interpreter.

Each presenter ended with a call to action for all organizations to offer more training for working with interpreters, developing and using oral and written language access resources, and creating workplace policies and tool kits that specifically address how to properly serve English language learners and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

If you would like to stay up to date on programs and training offered by ISLSI in the areas of diversity and identity education, subscribe to the monthly newsletter. Contact Ebony Nicholson at  Ebony.Nicholson@umaryland.edu with questions, comments, or suggestions.

  
Ebony Nicholson Education, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB News, University LifeOctober 11, 20170 comments
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