Language Matters NY: Consumer Empowerment and Provider Training to Improve Access to Interpreters

About the Language Matters NY Project

Approximately 60 million people in the United States, or 20% of the population, speak a language other than English at home. Of those, almost half speak English less than very well and a quarter less than well.

Research has consistently established that language barriers contribute to health and mental health disparities and suggests that qualified language interpreters can improve the quality of care for individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), consumer-provider communication, utilization of services, patient satisfaction, health outcomes and psychiatric care.

However, studies across the United States and internationally suggest a significant gap in access to qualified interpreters in health and mental health settings.

Provider Training and Technical Assistance Tools

The project will develop and disseminate training and technical assistance tools for providers and program administrators, and thus promote research-informed guidelines for working effectively with interpreters and support access to qualified interpreters.

Consumer Empowerment Tools

In addition to provider tools, the project will develop consumer empower tools to improve access to language services in mental health settings. This is particularly important since many mental health consumers with limited English proficiency are often unaware of their right to an interpreter, the risks associated with relying on untrained interpreters, and the “101” of working with an interpreter.

The project will start by developing a consumer and empowerment video for Spanish-speaking and Chinese-speaking individuals, since they represent the large majority of those with limited English proficiency in New York State and the country.

Project Phases

  1. Literature review on patient and provider knowledge about rights and availability of interpreters, attitudes toward working with a qualified interpreter, and barriers to accessing interpreters.
  2. Conduct of focus groups with consumer.
  3. Development of consumer videos, other consumer empowerment tools, and provider training and technical assistance tools.
  4. Final production and dissemination of tools.

To see an alphabetical list of all the projects being conducted at our Center, please click here:  Research projects at the CECC.