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.


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.


It turns out there's a lot of work between writing a proposal for something and then bringing that something to life. In preparing for my very first poster presentation, I've come to understand that like with many endeavors, the work you end up doing often seems much different than what you envisioned in your head.

In part, I think this is because the more you dive into something, and the more you think about said something, the greater it changes your own understanding of it.

In my case, I proposed a two-hour workshop which ended up being accepted as a poster. The poster format left me puzzled at first, but once I understood the challenge was for me to distill the heart of my ideas into something that was straight-forward and cohesive, I embraced it.

Another motivating factor? Seeing this on the ASHA Connect Schedule:


I've spent countless hours researching, writing, editing, re-writing, and researching again, and finally have something I'm proud to have put together. I have more questions at this point than I do answers, but nonetheless I can't wait to share what I've learned.