Now Hear This: 12 "Before" Actions To Take Before Collaborating With an Interpreter

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists will work with interpreters and other language/culture professionals to provide the best possible care. To ensure a successful collaboration, professionals should plan on the following:

  • Meet in advance to allow adequate preparation time.
  • Review and learn greetings in the family's language. For spoken languages, learn appropriate pronunciation of names.
  • Provide written information prior to the meeting, including proper names of those at the meeting, technical terms and abbreviations, copies of visual references, and topics to be covered.
  • Establish a rapport with the interpreter or transliterator.
  • Discuss prompts or cues that the interpreter or transliterator can use if the clinician speaks too quickly or too softly or if the clinician's speech or meaning is unclear.
  • Review the goals and procedures of the session or clinical interaction, including discussing
    • whether gestures may or may not be used;
    • the possible influence of vocal intonation;
    • the presence of feedback; and
    • other cues that may inadvertently influence the session.
  • Discuss the impact of modifying cues and prompts on the ability to collect accurate data and responses.
  • Explain confidentiality policies pertaining to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations and the ASHA Code of Ethics, and document that these policies have been explained and accepted.
  • Review assessment administration procedures or intervention techniques, and ensure that the interpreter or transliterator is aware of (a) the purpose of such procedures/techniques and (b) the need to provide test stimuli—in the client's language—that are as close as possible to the prompts to elicit the desired type of response.
  • Provide a copy of assessment prompts (in advance) to be used to avoid any sight translations.
  • Discuss the impact that fingerspelling may have on assessment results, and review possible differences in the conceptual accuracy of some signs relative to spoken language.
  • Review procedures for capturing the client's verbal and behavioral responses.

Collaborating with an interpreter or transliterator may influence a clinician's ability to diagnose, treat, and seek reimbursement for services. Learn more now about working with language and culture professionals.

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