– Theodore Roosevelt
Medical interpreting within the United States truly formalized in 1986 with the founding of the Massachusetts Medical Interpreting Association (MMIA), which was the first organization representing this specialization worldwide. In 2007, the MMIA expanded and is now the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA). Since its inception, the IMIA has pioneered a great many achievements including the first medical interpreter code of ethics and the first medical interpreting standards of practice.
Former IMIA President, Dr. Izabel ET de V Souza, spoke in 2007 about the IMIA expansion:
“We will now be able to join forces with other associations around the world, to help develop an international code of ethics, standards of practice, and quality controls for medical interpreters, and to facilitate the cross-continental exchange of knowledge in the language services industry.”
Over the past decade, Dr. Souza’s comments have certainly rung true. With national chapters in 35 states and international chapters throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa, the IMIA is dedicated to ensuring the highest interpreting standards within the medical interpreting field. The United States is growing increasingly more culturally and linguistically diverse, and the need for professionally-trained medical interpreters is growing right alongside.
A former Executive Director and President of the IMIA, Secretary General of the International Federation of Translators, project leader of Healthcare Interpreting Standard (ISO 21998), and Chair of the National Language Access Coalition Healthcare Committee, Dr. Souza is also the author of Intercultural Mediation in Healthcare, which encompasses the results of her international doctoral study involving well over 400 interpreter practitioners from 25 countries around the world.
With a wealth of knowledge and expertise, Dr. de V Souza offers 10 tips to healthcare practitioners, medical interpreters, and language services providers in order to strengthen language access and narrow the gap on miscommunication:
Thanks in large part to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 13611, and the CLAS Standards as foundations, the interpreting profession is now in high demand. HHS 1557, a nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), “… extends nondiscrimination protections to individuals participating in:
With the dedicated work of professionals within the language services and medical interpreting fields, a patient’s right to language access has continued to improve – but this doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to do.
“Much has happened in [recent] years, which I will call the post-certification era. Yet much work is still needed in the field, and we cannot become complacent.” – Dr. Izabel Souza
Hungry to find out more? Make sure to get a copy of Dr. Souza’s book, “Intercultural Mediation in Healthcare: : From the Professional Medical Interpreters’ Perspective“, which is available on Amazon and other major retailers.
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The language services industry is a diverse space by its very nature as its primary purpose is to connect people from a vast number of language and cultural backgrounds. Communication is at the core of all human interactions and where there is a need for communication, there is a need for language services.