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Interpreter Advocacy in Healthcare Encounters
Jun 26, 2021



The NCIHC Standards of Practice work group has just published “Interpreter Advocacy in Healthcare Encounters: A Closer Look.”  This interactive workshop will highlight several of the ideas presented in the paper. We will explore the sociological definition of role to understand the place of advocacy within the healthcare interpreter’s scope of practice.  We will examine what makes an intervention an act of advocacy as opposed to something else. We will present questions to ask oneself to determine whether there is a strong possibility of serious physical or emotional harm to the patient during an interpreted encounter, and whether the situation requires the interpreter to advocate or not. Join us in discussing case scenarios to consider how to determine when an act of advocacy may be the most appropriate and necessary intervention. We will discuss how to use other interventions to avoid the need for advocacy. 

Training Objectives:

Participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the interpreter role from a sociological framework,

  2. Identify when an intervention is an act of advocacy and when it is not,

  3. Understand how to use interventions that are not advocacy to avoid the need for advocacy,

  4. Assess and determine when advocacy is appropriate and necessary in case the patient’s physical and/or emotional well-being is at risk.

Workshop Presenters

María-Paz Beltrán Avery, Ph.D.
Jane Crandall Kontrimas, M.S., CoreCHI™
Analía C. Lang, B.A. CHI™
Katherine Langan, Ph.D., CHI™


You can register for this workshop by clicking on the Workshop link below. 

Workshop registration

Before the Workshop, please read the Interpreter Advocacy paper by clicking on the Advocacy paper button below. 

Advocacy paper

About the presenters:

María-Paz Beltrán Avery, Ph.D., began her work in health care interpreting over 25 years ago when she directed a federally-funded project to develop a college level certificate program to prepare bilingual adults as healthcare interpreters. Through this project, she collaborated with the Massachusetts Medical Interpreters Association to develop standards of practice for the profession. Published in 1996, the Medical Interpreting Standards of Practice were adopted by the MMIA as its official standards of practice and has continued to be used by healthcare professionals to date. As a member of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC), she has written a number of position papers including one on the role of the health care interpreter. As a member of the Standards, Training, and Certification Committee (STC) of the NCIHC, she was involved in the development of the National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Health Care and was the primary author of the accompanying document “Understanding the National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Health Care.”  Through the STC, she was also involved in developing the National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care and the National Standards for Healthcare Interpreter Training Programs.  She was also involved in early discussions and pilot projects focusing on the assessment of healthcare interpreting skills that eventually led to the creation of certification for healthcare interpreters. She has presented her work on medical interpreting at conferences, both national and international.  In 2015, she received NCIHC’s Language Access Champion Award. 

Dr. Avery brings to her work over 30 years of training and consultation experience in the areas of cross-cultural competency in education and health; management of diversity in health, mental health, and educational settings; comprehensive school improvement; policy and practice issues in the education of English Learners; and conflict resolution.  Bilingual in Spanish and English, she has worked as a therapist in a community mental health center. She is a trained mediator and occasionally volunteers at a community dispute resolution center in her community. 

Jane Crandall Kontrimas, M.S., CoreCHI™,  Interpreter Training Coordinator, and Interpreter Ethics Liaison, has been a Russian Interpreter at Beth Israel Hospital—now Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—since 1979.  In 1985 she and Raquel Cashman, who was Interpreter Services Manager at Boston City Hospital, hosted the first meeting of what became MMIA (Massachusetts Medical Interpreter Association), now called the International Medical Interpreter Association. She co-authored the first MMIA Code of Ethics for interpreters in 1987, chaired the MMIA Standards of Practice Committee while the “Standards of Practice for Medical Interpreters” was developed and published in 1995. She chaired the Certification Committee of the MMIA until December 2007. In 2016 she was a CCHI (Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters) subject matter expert for Job Task Analysis review and was a Director of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care 2018-2020. She continues expressing her passion for interpreting by training interpreters, medical students, and medical faculty and social workers.   

Analía Lang, B.A., CHI™, acquired her BA from Indiana University with a concentration in training, development and communications. She has been a medical interpreter since 2005, has trained healthcare interpreters for more than 12 years, and is licensed to train The Community Interpreter International curriculum. At the present time, Analía serves as a Cloudbreak Health/Martti training specialist and subject matter expert in language access, quality, and training for remote interpreters. Analía has developed webinars, workshops, and training curricula for the interpreting community. She has been a presenter at several conferences, has contributed to The Remote Interpreter book (a collaboration between Cross-Cultural Communications and other organizations), and serves as a member of the NCIHC Standards and Training Committee and its National Standards of Practice work group. Analía has a deep passion for empowering and inspiring others to flourish and have an impact in this remarkable interpreting profession.

Katherine Langan, Ph.D. CHI™ is a sociolinguist who has worked as a full time or occasional translator/interpreter since 1979.  She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She received her initial training in translation through SIL and has worked with various combinations of Indo-European and Mayan languages including English, Spanish, Poqomam, K’iche’, Kaqchikel, Koiné Greek and French, working on religious, technical, cultural, medical, legal, and commercial documents. She has been involved in the training of interpreters and translators both in the US and Guatemala since 1979.  She has interpreted in legal, educational, medical, and ecclesiastical contexts in both the U.S. and Guatemala and has also done conference interpreting.  As an active member of the National Council of Interpreters in Heath Care she has served on the Standards and Training Committee as Chair, Vice-Chair.  Currently, her STC role is co-chair of the Languages of Limited Diffusion Work Group and member of the National Standards of Practice for Healthcare Interpreters Work Group.  She has researched and developed specialized training for interpreters working in speech language therapy contexts as well as presentations for different medical professions on language access. She works as a free-lance interpreter and translator.

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