Our interpreters are among the most qualified in the healthcare market, setting the highest standard for credentials, experience and training. This month we celebrate the skill and dedication of our diverse interpreter team and their commitment to ensuring all patients have access to safe, high quality care.
There are some people who quite simply spread joy everywhere they go. Tina is one of those people. As an American sign language (ASL) interpreter at InDemand, she lives by the mantra that “when you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.”
Tina has been an interpreter for the past 20 years. She was born and raised in Los Angeles where she also attended an Interpreting Training Program (ITP) for two and a half years. A typical ITP requires students to take two years of basic ASL classes and then apply for the interpreting program. The higher level interpreting courses provide instruction on how to actually interpret as opposed to just speaking multiple languages.
“There’s a lot more that goes into interpreting than just vocabulary,” Tina said. “The Deaf community has a rich culture in addition to an amazing language that you have to understand, so there is a lot to learn.”
Tina has spent the past two decades honing her skills as an interpreter. She joined InDemand more than eight years ago and left briefly to pursue a position at Video Relay Service (VRS). VRS is a service that connects ASL interpreters with Deaf and hard of hearing individuals to make phone calls on their behalf. Tina would connect with the Deaf callers via video and then place phone calls for them, whether it was ordering pizza, calling mom or applying for a mortgage, she did it all. She enjoyed the challenge, but missed her work at InDemand and serving as a video remote interpreter (VRI).
In 2016, Tina returned to InDemand right when the company introduced Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs). At first, she admits to feeling a bit threatened by the role of CDIs as it meant she, and many other hearing ASL interpreters, felt like they were not good enough. However, she has since become a passionate advocate for incorporating their knowledge and perspective into interpreter encounters. For example, there are many cases where Deaf patients are deprived of language when they are children, or they are not exposed to sign language at a young age, which can leave a lasting impact. A CDI can help bridge the gap in these scenarios where concepts may be difficult to understand or express for these patients. Additionally, when Deaf individuals move to the United States from another country and don’t sign ASL fluently, CDIs can be very helpful in facilitating effective communication.
“Prior to working for InDemand I had no experience with CDIs and quite frankly didn't realize why their role was so important,” she said. “My view of what CDIs do has completely changed at InDemand. There is a misconception that CDIs are needed when a hearing interpreter is not qualified to do their job, but that is such a misconception. The CDIs at InDemand have helped me to let go of that idea and embrace the team approach when working with Deaf patients who would benefit from a CDI. It is truly amazing to see the cultural connection between two Deaf people. There is such crucial information being discussed, and if language is not clear, then the message is unclear. My work has changed from thinking it’s about me to KNOWING it’s about effective communication. Our use of CDIs has changed the entire trajectory of medical VRI. I believe that CDIs have helped to change the perception of VRI for many people in the Deaf community.”
Tina is not only invested in serving patients and providers through VRI, but she also enjoys connecting with her colleagues and bringing the team together to create comradery and collaboration. She created the Sunshine Committee to be able to focus on celebrating successes and a place to connect with other ASL interpreters.
Tina explained why she loves being an interpreter and why she feels the role of an interpreter is so important. She said there are times where she works with clinicians and patients and she watches them experience that aha moment when they are finally able to understand one another for the first time. Bridging that gap and providing patients with a full picture of his or her health is a meaningful part of the job.
“I wish that didn’t happen, but unfortunately it does because many times there are language barriers when patients do not have access to interpreters. Finally seeing the moment where things click for patients and providers, as it should have from the start, is really important. It’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of such intimate encounters as the discussion of a patient’s health.
Tina has gone through national testing through The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and holds a National Interpreter Certification (NIC). She also has licenses in several states and has also undertaken intensive training for Mental Health Interpreting. After training was completed, Tina completed her practicum and took the test to be a Qualified Mental Health Interpreter (QMHI), which allows her to facilitate mental health interpreter encounters.
“I really appreciate InDemand’s commitment to continuing education,” she said. “I feel like this certification and training helps me to advocate not only for the patients, but also for the providers. Many more people on our team are now pursuing the QMHI training.”
Tina believes there are many reasons that InDemand has been successful, but ultimately, she thinks it’s about staying true to the vision of ensuring every individual, regardless of language, cultural background or disability, receives access to the highest quality healthcare.
“In all my years of interpreting, I have never worked in a place like InDemand where the leaders walk the walk and talk the talk,” said Tina. “This company is the only place that has done that, and our CDIs play a huge role in the success of VRI for Deaf patients. Many of my colleagues who have worked for our competitors have shared that we are miles and miles above other providers in terms of the quality and training provided to our interpreters. We are making history in how we’re providing VRI services.”