Interpreting in Flemish Hospitals: Interpreters’ View and Healthcare Workers’ Expectations


In Flanders (Belgium) social interpreters and intercultural mediators help bridge the communication gap between foreign language speaking patients and healthcare workers. This paper reports on a comparative survey among social interpreters and intercultural mediators with a focus on how they perceive their role and tasks as interpreters in a healthcare setting. We examine if this is related to different codes of conduct and task descriptions. The survey showed that intercultural mediators feel that they can take on various roles, and have a whole range of responsibilities and duties, much more than social interpreters. In practice, social interpreters find it difficult to stick to their code of conduct. Another survey among healthcare workers working inside a hospital revealed that, in general, their expectations of an interpreter correspond more to the profile of an intercultural mediator than to the profile of a social interpreter.
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