"Medical interpreter" training class including sign language starts in Hirakata-shi, Osaka

The professor of the Osaka University graduate school (right) gives a lecture in the training class.
(photo: http://sankei.jp.msn.com/)

February 26, 2014

In order to make the foreigners as well as the Deaf community members who have difficulties to take communication with a health professional receive suitable medical treatment in comfort, Hirakata-shi in Osaka Prefecture started the "medical interpreter" training program.

Although the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare will arrange training of medical interpreters from next year in response to the holding of the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Paralympics in 2020, Hirakata-shi is the first kind in Japan to include not only a foreign language but sign language in training medical interpreters.

The population of Hirakata is about 410,000 people, and about 3800 foreigners live in the city while there are about 1200 deaf residents who registered with a disability card. The city estimates that about 5000 people are facing the communication issues in a health professional.

It was first the Deaf persons who experienced in the communication issues in the medical filed appealed to the city the necessity for medical interpreting, forming a group in 2012 aiming at medical interpreting spread.

The importance of medical interpreting came to be taken up also at the Hirakata-shi assembly. The city determined to tackle the medical interpreting program by cooperation from a medical university, a university of foreign studies, etc in the city and the Medical Interpreters Council located at Osaka University).

The training class with capacity of 18 students attracted 108 applicants including persons experienced in overseas service.

It has started in mid-January with a total of 19 persons in their 30-70's  and fluent in either of foreign languages (English, Chinese, and Spanish) and sign language. The class will continue until middle-March, 10 lessons and 40 hours in total.

Japanese source:

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