SEIS Academic Forum Series （No.706）
Forum on Interpreting Studies
Interpreting in the Hospital—
the Rise of Medical Interpreting
Speaker: Dr. Suzanne Zeng
Date: 6 December, 2018 (Thursday)
Venue: seminar hall, 3rd floor, BFSU Library
Abstract: The need for quality medical interpreters in the US, Canada, Australia and parts of Europe has been discussed since the late 1980’s. In the US, the recognition of community interpreting, including medical interpreting, began with Executive Order 13166 signed on August 11, 2000 by President Clinton, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency." This order prevents agencies receiving federal funding to discriminate against clients who speak a language other than English when trying to access their services. It became the burden of the service providers to offer interpreters free of charge to their clients.
Researchers began to focus on the language needs of the community in everyday life, and it was found that hospitals and other agencies had no budget for interpreter services, and therefore, relied on ad hoc interpreters, family and friends, and untrained bilingual staff (or no interpreter at all) to communicate with patients, and this led to misdiagnoses, unnecessary procedures and eventually lawsuits from patients claiming the doctor never explained what s/he was going to do. Patients woke up with an amputated foot, a C-section birth, or the wrong organ removed.
This talk will discuss the critical rise of the Medical Interpreting profession and where it stands today. I will particularly focus on how this phenomena has begged interpreter training institutions to get involved in the training of interpreters for the medical profession and in educating doctors on how to work with an interpreter. I will discuss what type of content needs to be incorporated into a training program, such as ethics and the role of the interpreter. The University of Hawaii will be used as an example of what can be done.
About the speaker: Dr. Suzanne Zeng is Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Interpretation and Translation Studies (CITS), at the University of Hawaii. She is passionate about bringing equality to limited English speakers by producing well trained language interpreters for community settings, such as for the courts and hospitals. Besides teaching, she has conducted numerous workshops at home and abroad, and and is a highly sought-out speaker and trainer. As a long-standing member of the Supreme Court Committee for Court Interpreters, Dr. Zeng was actively involved in establishing higher standards and certification for Hawaii State court interpreters, and has recently been active in the certification of medical interpreters in languages used in Hawaii. She is a governor-appointed Advisory Council member of the Hawaii Office of Language Access, and as a Certified Chinese-English Conference Interpreter, actively interprets herself. Dr. Zeng received her Ph.D. in Chinese Linguistics from the University of Hawaii.