Encountering a language barrier during a medical emergency can be a daunting ordeal.

Jeanette Anders' firsthand experience with such an event led her to work for Language Line Services, a growing company that provides language interpretation for non-English speakers over the phone and face-to-face.

Demand for language interpretation and translation has increased during the recession as increasing numbers of immigrants are requiring public services and as private companies work to reach a diverse market, said Language Line's president and CEO, Lou Provenzano.

The Monterey, Calif.-based company recently opened an office at 5151 E. Broadway to meet the growing demand. Anders, the company's manager of business development and strategic initiatives for health care and the public sector, said the primary need in the Tucson area for interpretation still lies in the medical field. The new location in Tucson also will be used to train health-care providers to employ their own interpreters, she said.

Anders, 43, has lived in Tucson for more than 10 years. She talked about the growing company in an interview Friday. Here are excerpts:

Q: How did you get involved with the industry?

A: How I got started in the industry was when I lived in Italy and didn't speak Italian. I was traveling through a rural part of the country on a train and had a medical emergency. I had to be removed from the train; I didn't know anyone; I was traveling alone and didn't speak the language.

It was a very scary experience for me. It really makes you feel very vulnerable when you can't communicate. It was quite a while before they provided an interpreter, and the relief of having someone to communicate with was just tremendous.

That really started getting me involved in being an advocate in the importance of interpreters, especially in the medical field.

Q: What does Language Line Services do for Tucson?

A: We provide a number of different modalities of interpreting, primarily for hospitals and the health-care market. This can be done face-to-face on-site or over the phone. One of the things we've recently brought is advanced technology through video interpreting.

Q: What makes Southern Arizona a growth market for these services?

A: I think it has a lot to do with the growing range of diversity here in Tucson in both spoken language as well as sign language. In addition to that, we have a number of health-care facilities that we're working with, and some of the feedback we've gotten from hospitals is a need for training and education.

Q: What is the area of greatest need?

A: Within the health-care industry, it's really at all points of access. Preventative care, post-treatment care, pharmaceutical, diagnostic — wherever an individual might seek care. First and foremost, they need to be able to communicate.

Obviously, there has always been a need for Spanish-language interpreters and translators in Tucson.

Q: What are some other languages needed in Tucson?

A: There certainly are a number of Native American languages — this is an area that hospitals often struggle with. Sometimes it's just not the language but the cultural barriers that come along with a different culture, and part of our training is to learn about those cultural barriers.

There is also a need for (interpreters of) Asian languages.


Language Line Services, which provides language interpretation and translation primarily for the health-care industry and law enforcement, has seen demand increase during the recession.

The company has plans to hire more than 200 employees in Tucson, some of whom will be sales representatives, said President and CEO Lou Provenzano. When it comes to interpretation skills, there is substantial demand for speakers of Asian languages, such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean.

Interpreters can have flexible schedules and, in some situations, work from home over the phone. The job application is online at www.languageline.com/ careers

Contact reporter Dale Quinn at 573-4197 or dquinn@azstarnet.com.