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Merie Spring tells how NABS has helped bridge the communication gap

Written on the 17 March 2015 by Merie Spring

Merie Spring tells how NABS has helped bridge the communication gap


I was employed before NABS was up and running.  I was asked to start developing the interpreter database as I had interpreter contacts around Australia due to my involvement with ASLIA (at a state and national level), NAATI (I was an examiner for many years and the Chair for NAATI's Regional Advisory Committee here in Queensland for ten years), Manager of the Queensland Deaf Society's (QDS) state-wide interpreting service.  It was about the time I resigned from QDS that I was approached to join the fledgling NABS team  - I was at the meeting when the corporate colours were chosen.

Why I was drawn to the role

I have a strong commitment to providing the best access possible to members of the Deaf community so they will not be discriminated against, especially in the area of health care.  When Wesley Mission Brisbane won the tender to provide the first national Auslan interpreting service, it was a huge step forward in service provision and I was excited to be involved in getting it off the ground.

After the initial database was developed, I was contracted to develop and deliver the first Diploma of Interpreting to students in regional and remote areas where access to interpreter training was not available.  NABS' contract with the government stipulated NAATI accredited  interpreters be provided for all health care appointments regardless of the location of the consultation/treatment, and so the need to be proactive in providing such training was manifest. My role involved quite a bit of travelling and assessment of potential students' language ability to see if they met the linguistic criteria for the Diploma as well as 'hands on' assessment of students' interpreting skills during the course.

I have worked as a NABS interpreter from its inception until now (ongoing).

How NABS has improved the lives of Deaf people and their families

I have seen Deaf people become more independent, not having to rely on parents or friends to interpret their health care appointments. Deaf people can now make a health care appointment confident that they will be provided with a NAATI accredited interpreter.  This in turn has opened up the way for Deaf people to take their children to see a GP/Specialist and have ease of access to the medical service.  It also means they are in a position to clearly explain to the health care professional in their own language/preferred means of communication what the problem is, leading to a more accurate diagnosis.  It's a win/win situation.

I have seen Deaf people prove to themselves, the medical professionals and their family members that with the interpreting service, which bridges the communication gap, they are able to become independent and take control of their lives.  With NABS interpreting service, Deaf people can and do make informed choices when it comes to their health care.


Author:Merie Spring
About: NABS Interpreter, Queensland
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