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  • Writer's pictureBayLeigh Routt

National Interpreter Appreciation Day

On the first Wednesday of May, we celebrate National Interpreter Appreciation Day! According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an interpreter is someone who translates for individuals or groups conversing in different languages. Being bilingual or speaking a language is not the only qualification needed to become an interpreter. Professional interpreters take many trainings, often attend college, and participate in many continuous education opportunities to so they can grow in their field. Having a qualified, trained interpreter who understands.

It's important to note that interpreting is different than translation. Interpreters focus on spoken-languages, including sign language, whereas translators "decipher the meaning of written content from a source language into the language that is targeted" (Kent State). Think of it this way: an interpreter focuses on live conversation, repeating the context into the target language. In their article "Language Justice During COVID-19," the American Bar Association writes:

Language justice is an evolving framework based on the notion of respecting every individual’s fundamental language rights to be able to communicate, understand, and be understood in the language in which they prefer and feel most articulate and powerful. Rejecting the notion of the supremacy of one language, it recognizes that language can be a tool of oppression, as well as an important part of exercising autonomy and of advancing racial and social justice.

Language is a powerful tool that unites us and carries culture. Nevertheless, there are barriers and it's important that we bridge communication gaps, especially in healthcare, education, social services, and more. There are many services and organizations like Access Language Solutions who strive to improve language justice and increase access in our communities. I'm a proud board member for Access Language Solutions (ALS), a nonprofit based in Kentucky. ALS provides professional interpretation and translation services to help eliminate language barriers across the Commonwealth and beyond.


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