blind person reading braille
Blog April 27, 2022

Expanding Access to Tools for Low and Blind Vision Interpreters

New Interpreting Job Options for Blind and Low Vision People

Widening access to the tools and services that AMN Healthcare brings to communities across the country has always been an integral part of the company. Not only for the patients we serve, but also in bringing new employment opportunities to all people, including the blind and low vision communities.

Expanding Opportunities for Jobs for the Blind and Low Vision Communities

The National Federation of the Blind reports as recently as 2016 that over 70% of adults with significant vision loss remain unemployed full time.

Per Susan Magdalinos, Recruiting Manager for AMN Healthcare’s Language Services Division, “Qualified medical interpreters come from all walks of life with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We have a thriving group of Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) who have added so much breadth and depth to our service and we continue to seek opportunities for other groups who may also be marginalized due to bias and lack of understanding.”

During a November 2021 virtual meeting sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind Employer Leadership Network of both private and public sector companies, AMN Healthcare proudly committed to an inclusive stance on creating jobs and new opportunities for the blind and low vision communities.

Working Together, Creating Solutions

While the concept of hiring blind and low vision employees was applauded by everyone at AMN Healthcare, there were necessary steps that needed to be put into place in order to enable the tools that these communities would need to be successful.

AMN Healthcare Language Services VP of Language Operations, Kathryn Jackson, the training team, and the engineering department worked together to create a user experience that would not only help with patient/clinician interpreting services but also in the onboarding process. “The goal was to seamlessly incorporate use of a popular program called JAWS, a computer screen reader program for blind and low vision people, into our existing platform,” says Kathryn.

The Training Process for New Candidates

Lorena Castillo, Manager of Instructional Design in Language Operations says: “It all comes down to accessibility – which can mean something different for every individual. Adaptive technology isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution and that is key – it must come alongside an autonomous and supportive learning environment.”

“Our team has worked closely with some phenomenal professionals with varying degrees of low vision or blindness, and they continue to be successful and positively impact the lives of LEP communities every day.”

One such interpreter is Karolline A., a Portuguese interpreter, who was eager to share her success story.

Success in Motion: An Interpreter’s Story

Blind since birth, Karolline A. once had light perception but was completely blind at 17 due to retinitis pigmentosa. Always fascinated by languages and learning, she was eager to attend school in Brazil, her home country.

She credits her tenacity for learning and being a thriving part of society to her mother who encountered many obstacles when Karolline was of school age. She was always told that there were no resources for students like her, but instead of impeding progress, it only made both mother and daughter eager to find a way. Through years of fortitude and reaching for the stars, Karolline got her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Linguistics and then an advanced degree in Universal Design.

Per Karolline, “In Brazil, there are programs and quotas for blind and low vision people that require companies to create employment opportunities. However, these opportunities are often only a foot in the door, with no accommodations or pathway to really prove your capabilities.”

Hence Karolline wanted more, including the opportunity to learn English and come to America. With a personal mantra of “you have to start somewhere,” she arrived in Louisiana in 2014 ready to learn English and find employment using her skills.

Karolline’s resume reads like that of anyone else, with varying experience in both Brazil and the U.S. working as a telemarketer and secretary/interpreter. She also worked for the government of Brazil helping families with judicial conflicts.

She laughingly relays that beginning her American journey in Louisiana was challenging with the local accent, which she sometimes found hard to understand. However, in the long run, it helped her understand the intricacies of the English language in this country, while also experiencing the warm reception she got from the people of Louisiana. She credits Louisiana Center for the Blind for helping her continue on her amazing journey here in the U.S.

Pushing through any barriers that presented themselves, she eventually got her Master’s Degree in Rehab Teaching and then taught English as a second language. But her heart was still in the interpreting arena where she had once found success.

During her entire time in America, she has had a goal of helping other people achieve their goals. Through volunteer work helping other blind and low vision people find employment in platforms like Indeed, she came across an opportunity at AMN Healthcare Language Services.

A New Awakening

Karolline applied for work at AMN Healthcare Language Services and was immediately identified as an ideal candidate. She started as an audio, off-camera interpreter in a contracting role but was so good at her job that the company soon asked her if she’d like to move on to a video interpreting position. At first, she declined the offer because she was afraid of how she may be perceived by patients and clinicians. She was concerned that she wouldn’t be looking directly at them and that the fact that she was blind might create a distraction.

Her fears were soon put to rest when she found out that there were other blind and low vision interpreters successfully working on camera for the company. With her mantra of “you have to start somewhere” still front and center, she took on the challenge and has had nothing but success, even growing her own ability to reach outside her comfort zone and help other sighted employees at AMN Healthcare Language Services.

“When patients and clinicians notice that I’m blind, they are so positive,” she says. “People are so complimentary and I feel such affection coming through the screen. Children are especially vocal and interested in seeing and listening to her.”

“In many cases, people don’t even realize I’m blind until well into the translation, and when they do, it’s business as usual. I’m grateful every day because the perception is often that blind people always need help. Mind you, there are times when we do need extra assistance, but being able to provide help to others as a blind interpreter has made a world of difference in my life.”

Karolline has even expanded her internal duties to help other sighted Portuguese interpreters understand the interpreting platform and discover shortcuts to success and now works as a Language Operations Manager. Per Karolline, “I’m being my best self and AMN Healthcare Language Services has enabled amazing growth in my life.”

“There are lots of opportunities to grow here if you want to work,” she says. Her blindness has oftentimes been seen as abnormal during her life, but it has turned into something positive as she has grown into the person she is today.

“People get excited to see people like me working and being respected,” she says. She sees AMN Healthcare Language Services as opening doors to diversity and new communities and encourages anyone to apply.

In closing, she notes that she’s always ready to help anyone be successful, sighted or not, in the company.

About AMN Healthcare Language Services

AMN Healthcare Language Services is the largest and fastest-growing video remote interpreting company in the world, with over 2,500 interpreters and 200+ languages represented across a variety of both large and small hospitals and clinics in the U.S.

We proudly served over 12,000,000 limited English proficient individuals in 2021, which translates into about 500,000 minutes per day of enabling healthcare clinicians and patients to successfully navigate language barriers.

Job Opportunities are Awaiting at AMN Healthcare Language Services

With a mantra of inclusion, AMN Healthcare Language Services is always looking for new interpreters to help improve our customer experiences.

Join our supportive team of interpreters and embrace a lifestyle that provides the ability to help people across the country from the comfort of your own home, or in-person in some of our contracted facilities.

To learn more about our Language Services, click here. To browse through current interpreter career opportunities, click here.

View Language Interpreter Jobs

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