Today I attended a meeting with 9 people, including me, speaking 5 languages – Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, English, and bureaucratic / medical -ese. It was a board meeting of a Chinese-Vietnamese community association of family caregivers to individuals with disability. Double translations were occurring. The topics included advocacy and managing the state health and public school systems. When I remarked on the added challenge of translation on top of care giving, I heard a story about a hospital that wouldn’t allow family interpreters if they had a medical interpreter on staff – family members wouldn’t understand the medical terms. Yet, if there was no appropriate interpreter on staff, the family interpreter was required.
One of the needs of caregivers is: The same information in the hands of the entire team including the people at the center that they can understand. So much easier if you speak English! According to the 2011 American Community Survey from the US Census Bureau, 20.8% – fully one-fifth or 60.6 million people – speak a language other than English in their homes.