Imagine having a medical emergency and when you arrive at the hospital, you have no way to communicate with the doctors or nurses. Imagine they are speaking about your condition, but since you don’t share a language, you can’t understand what’s happening. This is the plight faced by many deaf and hard-of-hearing people every day.
A Problem Needing a Solution
According to one survey, nearly 1 in every 20 Americans is deaf or hard-of-hearing. This rounds out to approximately 11 million people who need assistance accessing healthcare. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that healthcare facilities provide the means for effective communication. Ideal communication happens between providers and patients when a sign language interpreter is facilitating the encounter.
Interpreters are also valuable in non-emergencies. They can help a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual receiving physical therapy, mental health services, inpatient care, or following up with their primary care physician. Ensuring proper access to medical services means there’s a growing need for sign language interpreters. Just how big is this need?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects overall growth of 20% in the interpreting field from 2019 to 2029. They also forecast that, “Interpreters for the deaf will continue to have favorable employment prospects because there are relatively few people with the needed skills.”
While interpreting is clearly a profession in high demand, would it be a satisfying career choice?
Satisfaction in Interpreting
Most people are happiest when their jobs afford them autonomy and provide interesting problems to solve. Interpreters mostly work alone or in small teams. They can work in different scenarios, locations, and with different people. There are constant opportunities to network, pick up new skills, and learn new things.
Interpreters provide empowerment to an often ignored or underserved community. The National Association of the Deaf reports the deaf or hard-of-hearing often get denied access to healthcare because of a lack of accessible health communication. Interpreters enable active participation in care decisions and improved satisfaction in the overall experience of patients.
Now imagine that you are back in that emergency room, but this time, an interpreter is by your side. They voice your concerns and clearly explain your plan of care. This is the kind of relief you can provide as an interpreter.