Nfld. & Labrador

Innu medical glossary, app to allow better access to health care

A new app has been created to help patients who speak Innu-aimun communicate with their English-speaking health care providers.
An Innu medical glossary has been handed out in parts of Labrador, and is now available as an app for Apple and Android devices. (CBC)

A new app has been created to help patients who speak Innu-aimun communicate with their English-speaking health care providers.

Madeline Benuen says a language glossary for Innu-to-English, and vice versa, will help health care professionals provide better care. (CBC)
The Innu Medical Glossary, designed by Memorial University researchers and their partners, has already been distributed in parts of Labrador. Now, anyone can get a digital copy.

The app can be downloaded onto any Apple or Android device, and includes English-to-Innu translations of more than 1,200 words.

Madeline Benuen has worked as an interpreter for 17 years, but says the app and glossary will make translations much easier.

Benuen said it would be a good tool for all health care workers in Labrador.

"The nurses even try to tell them, to ask questions of them, and it'll be more helpful if the nurses could have it, too. Have one at the in-patients, one in emergency, and one in out-patients," she said.
Marguerite MacKenzie says developing an Innu-to-English app will help people get better access to health care. (CBC)

Linguistics professor Marguerite MacKenzie says the design of the app is primarily aimed at making translation easier for language interpreters.

"Medical terminology was a no-brainer, in the end. The interpreters really don't get any training, and they certainly do need some resources to help them in their very difficult jobs," said MacKenzie.

"This way, the interpreter can look for it in the list, and listen to the Innu explanation. Something else we've put in, is a plain English explanation of some of the more involved terms."

The medical glossary is just one of a variety of translation guides MacKenzie has worked on, including a book of legal terminology which she hopes to develop into an app some time in the future.