ASHA Leader: Beyond Word-for-Word Interpreting

This month, I was honored to write a cover article for the ASHA Leader. It covered one of my great passions: working with interpreters in clinical settings.

“Just say what I’m saying, word for word!” It’s common for interpreters to hear this from clinicians. But this statement can have different meanings.

The most obvious meaning would be to simply repeat, in the same language, every word spoken in precisely the same order. As applied in Spanish, for example, “I am Phil,” might be said, “Yo estoy Felipe.”

But that’s likely not what is being requested. It’s more likely that the clinician aims to have the message content conveyed effectively in the target language. For example, in Spanish, “I am Phil” might be the more conversationally appropriate “Soy Felipe.”

This article is a part of the work I've been doing the past two years, starting with my poster at ASHA Connect and the subsequent seminar at the ASHA Convention in Philadelphia in 2016.

In this month's ASHA, there's another excellent article diving into more detail about making sure your services are accessible to all. You can read that article here.

The Bug

Shortly after returning from the ASHA Connect conference, I got word that the paper I submitted for the ASHA Convention in November was accepted.

It will be a two-hour seminar and will be a more in-depth version of my poster. If you're interested in learning about working with interpreters in clinical settings, and more than that, learning how interpreters think, I'd love it if you joined me.

Between now and November, I will be working diligently on my presentation. I will also be doing a survey to gain some insight from clinicians, and will post that soon. My survey is currently in development (on its third revision so far). Like most of what I have discovered in this process, developing this presentation is an immense amount of work. The result will undoubtedly be worth it, and I'm excited to keep writing about my process here.

If you are planning on attending the ASHA Convention, don't forget that early bird registration ends soon.


It's hard to believe that nearly a month has passed since the ASHA Connect conference. It may have passed in a blur, but I've taken and applied so much of what I learned there. An excellent experience from start to finish. Also, this happened:

This was my first time to present, and doing a poster was a wonderful experience all around. It's such a nice way to meet with people, and I learned as much from people who stopped by as I hope they did from me.