Why I am writing a Blog

This will be my very first blog post ever. After all, I came of age in an era in which computers took up entire rooms, we fed them punch cards in a code called “Fortran,” and people actually wrote to each other on paper. With a thing called a “pen.” Yes, I know – barbaric! How did we ever accomplish anything?

Yes, information technology and I are still getting to know each other. However, I have been working in the language access field for the past 20 years – first as interpreter, then as trainer, then as consultant – and in health care for even longer, and a few people at least have seemed to find my accumulated experience in this field useful. I often get emails from interpreters, trainers, and language access coordinators with questions, which I try to answer to the best of my ability. Over the years, I’ve noticed lot of repeats in those questions, and I often find myself thinking, “Haven’t I written about this before? Now where the heck did I file that answer . . . ?” My younger and much smarter colleagues have told me that it would be helpful to the language access world if I started to post those answers where everyone could see them. And, hey, who am I to argue with the next generation of leaders in the field?

So, voila! Here is my blog. I will be posting here both information on new developments and resources in healthcare interpreting, as well as responses to queries both old and new from the field. Where I am citing fact, I will document it; otherwise, you will be reading my opinions. You may disagree with them. That’s cool. I heartily encourage everyone to disagree with me, and to tell me why. Healthcare interpreting is a young field, a developing field, and every day we are learning more about what works best. I try to be open to new ways of seeing old challenges, and I reserve the right to change my opinion if new evidence or changing circumstances so dictate.

A word about values. If you’re going to read someone’s opinions, it helps to know where they are coming from. Here are the values I apply when I consider a problem in health care interpreting, in descending order of importance.

  1. What will most likely improve the quality of communication between limited-English-proficient patients and the healthcare providers who serve them?
  2. What is realistic at this time in this particular environment?
  3. What is sustainable?

Where I promote specific products, it is because I believe they will meet these three criteria. When I have vested interests in certain products, I will reveal those interests. I will try to be as transparent as possible.

Do you know where the word “blog” comes from? It’s the elision of the words Web and log, referring to the World Wide Web (the Internet) and a log book, originally a daily written record of a sailing ship’s progress, so called because wooden floats were used to measure a ship’s speed. So you can see this blog as a sort of measure of our progress toward the mystical land of universal language access, if you like. Or, I suppose, you can see it as a chunk of wood caught in a spider’s web. Either way, I hope it will be useful to you.

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