New Video Interpretation Service Improves Language Access for Clients

VENTURA, Calif. – The Human Services Agency recently implemented a new tablet-based language interpretation service for vulnerable adults served by the agency’s Adult & Family Services department. In delivering Adult Protective Services, In-Home Supportive Services and other programs to elderly and vulnerable adults, the Human Services Agency engages with clients and families who speak more than 30 languages.

Social workers previously relied on a telephone system when they needed language interpretation, but communication could be difficult particularly when delivering services in the field. With the implementation of a new video tool called Stratus Video Interpretation Service, social workers now use their tablets to connect with interpreters from a client’s front porch, kitchen table or bedside, and share the live audio-video feed with the client.

Compliant with standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Stratus provides confidential video interpretation 24/7 in more than 20 languages including American Sign Language, Arabic, Armenian, Korean, Spanish and Tagalog. An additional 150 languages are available by phone, including Mixteco, with advance notice. Further, Stratus enables social workers to highlight key information in writing on the video screen, such as telephone numbers and appointment dates, to help confirm the client’s understanding.

Social workers report that the Stratus video format is particularly helpful for clients who are elderly and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Social workers also note that clients are more likely to open up and share information when they can see their interpreter on video. Moreover, Stratus helps social workers prepare for unique and unpredictable situations in the field.

For example, when an Adult Protective Services social worker arrived at the home of an elderly woman who was reported to be at risk, the social worker was greeted by a Spanish/English-speaking housekeeper and a Mandarin-speaking caregiver, as well as the Farsi-speaking client. Using two Stratus interpreters simultaneously, the social worker engaged with the client and her caregiver successfully, and ensured the client’s safety within a short time frame.

The Human Services Agency expects to roll out the Stratus Video Interpretation Service to its other program areas in the coming weeks, incorporating best practices from the initial implementation.

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