4 min read

When a Limited English Proficient (LEP) person comes to your emergency room, law office, or parent-teacher conference, it’s important to have a professional language services provider on hand to interpret, even if a bilingual child or family member is also in attendance. Interpretation requires a select set of skills that not every speaker can master and an industry-specific vocabulary a child or layman likely does not possess.

How do you navigate situations like this with your LEP clientele? We’ve compiled a few handy reminders of why professional interpreters should be used in each critical encounter!

1. Family members can be biased.

Ready to explain a complex medical procedure your LEP patient needs? A family member may not be up for the challenge and may, “sugar-coat” your words to have an easier conversation or inadvertently miss the facts. Professional interpreters are free of bias and will treat your LEP patient with the same respect and directness as you do.

2. Friends or family may not be familiar with the necessary vocabulary.

A professional interpreter will find the most appropriate word or phrase to accurately interpret what you ask or describe. Legal jargon? Medical vocabulary? These are not, “child’s play”.  A qualified interpreter will not struggle or use an inappropriate word in its place.

3. “Bilingual” does not equal “qualified to interpret”.

Interpretation is a highly specialized occupation, requiring the interpreter to listen in one language, determine the best interpretation, and then speak in another language. To go back and forth in this way requires patience and training, qualifications your average bilingual speaker likely isn’t ready to take on for any length of time.

4. Government mandates may dictate a qualified interpreter be used.

Bilingual speakers may not legally meet the requirements of the communication at hand.  We can explain in detail how Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 131664, or the Joint Commission’s requirements set the scene for exactly how your communication is to take place with an LEP speaker.

5. Risks outweigh the reward.

Many affordable interpretation solutions exist to ensure LEP communication is accurate, clear, and unbiased. You shouldn’t have to risk a lawsuit down the line because an LEP’s child misinterpreted the dosage of medication or due date of an important document.