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Interpreters Needed

In 2005 the conference "Education: A Bridge to Employment." was held and about 70 people attended the conference at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. It was held by Latinos Unidos of Iowa and coincided with Latino Heritage Month.

One man, David Jones (manager of Interpretation Services at Mercy Medical Center), asked the audience to imagine that they had discovered that they had heart disease, but that the doctor spoke another language. The sole means of communication being through a younger sister.  He went on to ask "How many of you want to use your 6-year-old sister to ask questions about that?". He was stressing the requirement for trained translators and interpreters.

The need for diversity with the workforce, educations, cultural understanding and health care were also stressed at the conference. Speaker, Dr. Jose Angel (founder of the Clinica Medica Latina in Des Moines) also emphasized the need for education. Workshops were also created to give assistance to organizations, businesses and individuals in serving Latino employees and customers.

At the workshop ‘the value of translation and interpretation services’ some participants complained that cash restrictions forced them to often relay on inexperienced volunteers and  bilingual staff for interpretation. Eugenia Hernandezc(Iowa City attorney and workshop moderator) stated "You cannot rely on untrained interpreters," and they went on to confirm that organisations and businesses must budget for language services.

Minnie Mallard (program performance analyst and minority outreach liaison with the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs) stated that "What I've seen is people not valuing and not wanting to pay for those skills," and "It's a valuable service. If you need a professional then you need to pay for it and put it in the budget."

Many things have changed since that conference in 2005, but not all good. With the worlds current financial difficulties, it may in fact be harder for some of the parties who attended this conference to budget for the translation and interpreting services that they need. Medicine comes before language services, but the resulting miscommunication might cost clients or even lives.