Interpreter Role vs. Bilingual Advocate

As an interpreter for over 15 years, I’ve seen time and time again interpreters stepping out of their Role as a Professional Interpreter and into the Role of a Bilingual Advocacy…Which as we all know, it’s a No! No!
Unless, the patient’s health, well-being, or dignity is at risk!

The Role as an Interpreter is to Bridge the Language Gap in Communication; We are just the “Voice”.The Role of a Bilingual Advocate is to help bridge the gap of inequality and power between patients and providers.

“Interpreters and Translators have existed for centuries, but Bilingual Advocacy is relatively new practice that is in the process of being recognized as a “profession” in its own right.  Bilingual Link workers / advocates, interpreters, community interpreters and translators are all titles for bilingual workers who are most commonly employed for providing language support to the users (both from the minority ethnic communities and from the health and social care agencies).”

Therefore, keep in mind that these are Two (2) different Roles that SHOULD NOT be mixed and here’s why!  

“Only qualified individuals should serve as interpreters. Nevertheless, sexual assault victim advocates who are fluent in languages other than English are sometimes asked by police, prosecutors, and other professionals to provide interpretive services for victims. In these cases, even if the advocate is a qualified interpreter, it can be difficult to maintain the boundary between the interpreter’s role and the sexual assault victim advocate’s confidential role. For example, just as a sexual assault victim advocate is accountable to the victim, a court interpreter is accountable to the court. However, if an advocate serves as an interpreter, the advocate becomes a part of the investigative process and may end up having to testify against the best interest of the victim. Thus, an advocate must not serve as both sexual assault victim advocate and interpreter, and must explain the possible consequences to the victim before ever serving as both advocate and interpreter.”

2 thoughts on “Interpreter Role vs. Bilingual Advocate

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