Author

Alma Torres

Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Andrew Quinn

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the current protocols set in place by local agencies when working with limited English proficiency clients (LEP). Due to the homogeneous environment in the state of North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota and the increase of immigrants, migrants and refugees to the area, the use of interpreters has become a necessity. A questionnaire was used as means of collecting data regarding the number of agencies that service limited English proficiency clients, employ interpreters, how interpreters are trained and use of technology for interpretation purposes. Interpreter is defined for this purpose as an individual who assists two or more people who speak a different language to communicate with one another. The number of respondents was 54, 105 agencies were surveyed. It is of importance for social workers to be equipped with the proper tools when dealing with limited English proficiency clients and interpreters need to learn about new ways to improve services. In doing so, the social worker is prepared to reduce the gaps in the quality of service due to language barriers received by an LEP client. The results were that in the geographical area of North Dakota and North Western Minnesota, half of the respondents do use interpreters ranging from family members, to bilingual staff members and interpreters via telephone services and in person. According to research completed by authors cited in the literature review in order to better service the client nothing is better than clear and direct communication between two individuals that speak the same language and share common knowledge of the client’s culture. When this is not available, hiring a certified interpreter working alongside the professional for the benefit of the client is considered best practice.

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