Document Type (Journals)

Educational Innovations


Effective communication between occupational therapists (OTs) and their clients is key to quality, client-centered services. Most OTs can expect to work with clients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Language barriers may negatively impact client safety and client satisfaction. Working with language interpreters is a key means for OTs to best serve clients with LEP; however, few OT curricula provide adequate training in working with interpreters. This paper presents a new, innovative online training for preparing OT students to work with clients with LEP and interpreters. The brief online training used informational slides, video role plays and written case studies to prepare OT students to provide and advocate for quality services for clients with LEP. The training was evaluated by 26 second year MSOT students at a large, urban university. Student learning was assessed with a pre-test/post-test questionnaire. Pre-test results indicated that while most students (86%) reported working with LEP clients on fieldwork, few (less than 27%) felt well prepared to do so. A majority (60%) of students were unaware or unsure of how to access interpreter services at their fieldwork site. Post-test results indicate that the training significantly improved student knowledge, skills and attitudes for working with LEP clients and interpreters. The implications for OT education, including the importance and feasibility of training entry-level OT students to work with interpreters, are discussed. Opportunities for increased emphasis on cultural competence and language access education within future entry-level OTD curricula are highlighted.


Elizabeth Adare Harrison, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist based in Chicago, Illinois. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and working in inpatient rehabilitation. Her research interests include language access, health equity and occupational justice.

Mansha Mirza, PhD, MSHSOR, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor in the department of Occupational Therapy and the department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research areas include health disparities, immigrant and refugee health, and language access.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.