Limited English Speakers Value Interpreter Services from Bilingual Access Line

BALLiving in an English-speaking community when it’s not your mother tongue can be hard. Everyday activities become challenges. But, imagine how much harder it can be when dealing with medical issues, disputes over bills and legal matters. That’s why many non-native speakers use the Bilingual Access Line (BAL) to ensure that communication is not hampered because of language barriers.

Last year BAL received more than 17,700 interpreter requests in 20 languages. We recently asked four BAL clients about their experience using the interpretation service. Here are their thoughts – translated into English.

What is your country of origin?

D.N.: Vietnam

J.Y.: China

A.H.: Japan

B.W.: Korea

What is your native language?

D.N.: Vietnamese

J.Y.: Chinese – Cantonese/Mandarin

A.H.: Japanese

B.W.: Korean

Do you find the interpreter helpful at your appointment?

D.N.: Yes. I’m able to understand what my doctor is asking or saying to me. I have a hard time understanding, and the interpreter is very helpful. Sometimes  I have a question for the doctor, and the doctor can answer me because the interpreter is helping me to talk. The interpreter is very nice. The interpreter is very helpful. The interpreter is really important.

J.Y.: Yes. I can find out what my bill means and which portion I have to pay. Electricity is important, and I have it now. It’s turned on. It’s good. I pay every month and everything is fine.  I can go to the market and buy things to store in the refrigerator.

A.H.: Yes. I need to see a specialist. and the interpreter helped me understand what is going on and what I need to do to fix my health.

B.W.: Yes. I only like certain interpreters, and, so far, they all help me at my appointments. It’s helpful. I get to say it in my language and the interpreter helps me to say it so that I can be heard. I can understand everything that is being said. Sometimes, the doctor uses big words and I like simple words.

Would you use an interpreter again?

D.N.: Yes, I would. They are very helpful, all of them.

J.Y.: Yes, I would. The interpreter is very nice. The interpreter helped me communicate. I called the electric company many times and I get help over the telephone. It’s good.

A.H.: Yes. I ask my doctor for a Japanese interpreter every time. It’s helpful and I really appreciate it.

B.W.: Yes. Interpreters are very nice. Interpreters are helpful. They help me understand.  It’s very good. I wish the interpreter could come every place I go, but they cannot. It’s ok. The interpreters are there when I need it the most. Thank you.

In our multi-cultural society, BAL helps to bridge the gaps in communication caused by different languages. This invaluable service makes it easier for individuals to access and receive the help they need. To learn more about it from an interpreter’s perspective, read An Interpreter’s Life at Helping Hands Hawaii, which posted earlier this year.

To request an interpreter from the Bilingual Access Line, call (808) 526-9724, Option 1 or email

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