Interpreters help break down barriers

Translators help many understand world around them

Communication is needed every day to function effectively. People may not realize how big of a deal a language barrier can be, but for those who face such a challenge, understanding the world around them is essential. Even a simple task such as going to the grocery store can cause a misunderstanding between a Spanish speaker, English speakers and even the deaf community.

Professional social worker Olivia Lopez discussed the effective use of interpreters during a Hispanic Heritage Month event in the White Library Oct. 6. The use of interpreting is very important in the communication process for people who have trouble speaking the language of the area that they’re in. Interpreters are people who translate speech orally to avoid miscommunication.

Several students gathered and shared experiences that they have had where miscommunication took place. There are multiple problems with not knowing what someone is saying or trying to say, even with daily activities that don’t often come to mind when you first think of communication barriers.

Lopez explained how language barriers contribute to health disparities in limited-English speaking patients here. She explained that some patients would most likely experience problems with medications without understanding a physician; a patient may not know how much to take, to take it with food, or when to take the medication.

“Interpreters are professional colleagues,” Lopez said, stressing the ranking of interpreters and how much they really matter, even though people don’t always realize it. “The idea that interpreters are our professional partners helps us understand that without them work cannot be done.”

Knowing or learning multiple languages can help people in various ways. Interpreters are needed to communicate in any environment no matter where it is. Understanding is needed for feedback, and as long as cultural diversity is around, interpreters will always be needed to translate.

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