UMASS Med Now
By Ellen Moran
December 18, 2014
The rising demand for American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters who have the proficiency and comfort to perform in a health care setting led to the development of a new training program offered by UMass Medical School, MassHealth, and the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The 16-hour program, An Introduction to Medical Interpreting, debuted this fall and will be offered again next spring. The program teaches American Sign Language interpreters with little to no medical training how to work with medical terminology, clinical procedures and ethical issues in health care settings.
“The demand for ASL interpreters with extensive knowledge of health care situations is higher than the commission can supply,” said Lisa Morris, MS, director of Cross-Cultural Initiatives at UMass Medical School’s Massachusetts Area Health Education Center (MassAHEC) Network. MassAHEC is a unit within the Commonwealth Medicine division.
Finding a doctor who uses communication supports such as ASL interpreters, CART reporters and other aids was reported as a big problem by more than 50 percent of those who responded to a health needs assessment of people with disabilities in Massachusetts. The assessment, the results of which were released in April, wasconducted by researchers at UMass Medical School’s Disability, Health and Employment Unit and the Health and Disability Program at the state Department of Public Health.