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UHN is providing medical interpretation services for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. Services will take place over the phone with UHN Interpretation services and its vendors. (Photo:UHN)​

The 10,000 athletes and coaches from 41 countries coming to Toronto for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games will speak the language of sport.

But if they need medical care, it's UHN that will be helping them communicate.

As one of the Toronto 2015 designated hospitals, UHN's Interpretation and Translation services has been preparing to ensure succinct and prepared translation for all languages in attendance.

"An informed patient is a safe patient," says Maria Anna Calamia, Manager of Interpretation and Translation Services at UHN. "It is crucial that patients have access to healthcare in their mother tongue so that they can have unfiltered and accurate information with regards to their medical condition."

Pan Am/Parapan Am languages

The three official languages of the Games are Spanish, French and English. Since a large portion of the players are Brazilian, Portuguese is the fourth unofficial language.

Games organizers specifically requested interpretation services for Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Canadian French and Haitian French.

The art of speaking sports and medicine

UHN Interpretation and Translation services has prepared a glossary of over 650 sports terms derived from the Games website. The glossary, translated to Spanish, French and Portuguese, has been distributed to UHN vendors and the Games committee.

Did you know?

  • The Pan Am Games open Friday and run to July 26. The Parapan Am Games will take place from Aug. 7 to Aug. 15.
  • Among the UHN Interpretation and Translation Services staff, there's one full-time Brazilian Portuguese interpreter and one full-time Spanish interpreter available.
  • The difference between interpretation and translation is that interpretation is spoken, while translation is written.​
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Maria Anna, a PhD in Italian Linguistics, has created a step-by-step tip sheet on how to use "Over the Phone" interpretation services, which are so named because all interpretation requests will take place by connecting the interpreter, patient and medical staff by telephone to ensure that proper protocols are being used.

The interpretation tip sheet provides concise, step-by-step information on how to effectively navigate a phone call between an interpreter and medical staff. It includes contact information and advice such as speaking slowly, breaking every two sentences to ensure accurate interpretation, and having all parties speak directly to each other as if there were no language barrier.

Interpreting 24/7

Games-related venues and clinics requiring interpretation services will contact UHN vendors located across Toronto and in the United States, which will provide interpretation for more than 160 languages.

The UHN vendors located in the U.S. will be available for interpretation calls 24/7 throughout the Games.

Three staff members from the UHN Interpretation and Translation Services department will also be available 24/7 for troubleshooting inquiries.​

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