Access to services with interpreters: User Views

C Alexander et al,
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
ISBN 1859352286,
Star Rating: 4/5  

Anti-discriminatory practice insists that people should be
enabled to speak with their own voice whenever possible; never more
so when their first language is not English, writes Bernard

The importance of having an interpreter available cannot be
over-emphasised; without having their own voice properly heard,
many people who speak little English are likely to receive an
inadequate service, especially in legal, social welfare and
education settings.

This recent report has examined the experiences of people who need
the services of an interpreter. Based at London South Bank
University, Salford University and the London School of Economics,
the team of researchers interviewed 50 Chinese, Kurdish,
Bangladeshi, Indian and Polish people in their first language in

The research found that people decide for themselves what level of
English proficiency is necessary for particular occasions, with
specialist help being most important in medical or legal matters.
Interpreters need to offer more than just linguistic accuracy:
empathy, help to understand complex procedures, loyalty and
advocacy are also expected. This is why so often they prefer family
members and friends to interpret for them. It concludes that more
training in the basics of interpreting should be offered to members
of ethnic minority groups.

Bernard Moss is a national teaching fellow at
Staffordshire University.

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