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Community solutions to language access refer to efforts made by organizations—particularly health care provider organizations, like hospitals and health systems—to look outside of their organizations to develop language capacity at the community level. This requires a dedicated and long-term view of language capacity development, and should be closely linked with patient market analyses and other components of the business case for language access.

There are two kinds of community language access solutions that our grantees have piloted: educational partnerships for interpreter training and language service agencies. The ultimate goal of both of these is to improve the ability of health care organizations to serve their LEP patients well. Educational partnerships develop skilled individuals and language service agencies manage and deploy them.

Educational Partnerships

Currently there are five new interpreter training programs that have been developed as a result of Hablamos Juntos. For more information about these programs and where they are located, please see the article published in the April 2005 HJ eUpdate. These programs were developed as collaborations between an Hablamos Juntos grantee and various local educational and provider organization partners. They cater to many different levels of training and include programs that result in a certificate, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s of public health degree in Health Interpreting and Health Applied Linguistics.

In the section on educational partnerships in the Hablamos Juntos Resource Guide, we will discuss barriers and facilitators to the development of these programs, as well as the resources each participant provided in the partnership, and the outcome of the programs.

Language Services Agencies

The development of language service agencies typically stems from the need on the part of multiple hospitals in a given geographical area for skilled interpreters. Instead of each hospital recruiting and training and competing for local interpreters, a language service agency can recruit, train, and assign interpreters to hospitals throughout the region. The idea behind this centralization of services is that it will be more cost-effective for hospitals long-term and that the quality of service will be better and more standardized.

Three Hablamos Juntos grantees have either developed or are exploring the development of a language service agency in their areas. The most developed of these is MedVerse in Greenville, South Carolina, which is now serving over four partner hospitals and six other clients, and is actively assessing ways in which it can become self-sustaining as a business.