Monday, September 26, 2011

Towards Medical Interpretation Service in Hirakata - The Second Forum Report and Photos

The Second Forum to discuss issues involved in seeking medical interpretation for Deaf people and foreigners in Hirakata-shi successfully took place on September 17. Almost 100 people came to study and support the cause of hospitals providing interpretation for non-Japanese speaking patients. Currently there is no system to provide medical interpretation for Deaf people and foreigners during treatments, consultations and emergencies.

Click here for background information about the First Forum.

Click here for the announcement for the Second Forum.

The keynote address at the Second Forum was given by Izabel Arocha, Executive Director of the International Medical Interpreters Association. She described the situation of medical interpretation in the United States, including major movements, laws and lawsuits that led to mandatory interpretation for non-English speakers at American hospitals. She also gave an overview about the interpretation profession, including training, challenges and professional development. She spoke about medical interpretation in other countries and also included information about sign language medical interpretation.

For me, Arocha's address had two powerful themes:

1) Sign languages are real languages, the same as spoken languages. Hearing and Deaf people equally need medical interpretation.

2) Interpretation is a real job, and a tough one at that. It needs extensive training and professional development as well as cooperation with parties and institutions involved in the process. Competency in a language does not mean a person can automatically and competently interpret.

These two points desperately need to be understood in Japan. Japanese Sign Language is a real language and JSL interpreters need to be treated as professionals, the same as interpreters of French, English and other spoken languages. JSL should not be tied to social welfare and offered as a volunteer service. A hearing person who can communicate in JSL cannot be expected to be a competent interpreter without proper interpretation training.

I wasn't able to take as many photos at the Second Forum as I did at the First because I had other responsibilities this time around. Hopefully you can get the idea of the supportive environment during our exploration of this important issue. Thanks to all the volunteers and staff members who put in so much work for the meeting. A Third and Fourth Forum are in the planning stages. Stay tuned to VAOJ for announcements. Please support this important cause.


Link to International Medical Interpreters Association:

No comments: