chapter  3
30 Pages

International perspectives and practices in healthcare interpreting with sign language interpreters

How does Canada compare?
WithDebra Russell

This chapter describes healthcare interpreting which is mediated by signed language interpreters, drawing on the experiences of several countries, offering international perspectives and practices in relation to policy frameworks and educational opportunities. The findings are then contrasted with the Canadian context of providing sign language interpreting in healthcare settings. Based on a Canadian Supreme Court Eldridge decision in 1997, deaf Canadians won the right to secure interpreters in healthcare settings, with a particular emphasis on hospital settings. The court decision led to a number of legislative and policy changes across Canada, and the development of interpreter services for medical and mental health settings. Agencies that provide healthcare interpreting in Canada have differing models of service delivery, with some agencies creating interpreter screening tools to ensure interpreters have the skills and knowledge needed for safe practice. One innovative programme that emerged as a result of the Eldridge decision was the development of a paid Interpreter Internship Program that has a focus on medical and mental health interpreting. Interpreter agencies are increasingly using interpreters who are also deaf, in order to provide access for a number of deaf people who benefit from a co-interpreting model of service. This combination of sign language interpreters can provide exceptional interpreting service in many sectors, including healthcare settings. This chapter concludes by identifying two challenges on the horizon for signed language interpreting in Canadian healthcare settings.