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Interpreting, Medical

  • By: Laurie Swabey
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Medical interpreting is a complex and challenging cognitive, linguistic, cultural, and social task. The interpreter may interpret for life-changing events including birth, the diagnosis of serious illnesses, and end-of-life care. In this highly personal setting, emotions can be charged; time can be of the essence; and patients may be experiencing pain, anxiety, or grief. All of these factors affect communication. Historically, Deaf people managed communication in health care settings by writing, gesturing, or having a family member or friend act as an ad hoc interpreter. New laws and policies in many countries now mandate access to communication in health care settings, creating a need for more specialized interpreters. Advances in medicine and demands by the Deaf community and health care organizations for accurate interpreting, both ...

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