Friendships Blossom Through Translators

«Communication is everything, and these translators have been a game-changer,» shares CEI driver Fernando Navarro. «Every day has been better ever since these translators arrived. Communication is clear, and we can relate to each other. But the key thing is that the seniors know I’m ready to help.»

A full 50% of CEI participants speak a language other than English. Our materials are translated into six languages. Translation services for healthcare are critical for a growing group of older adults with limited English proficiency (LEP). Studies show that LEP seniors are at risk for poor health outcomes and have less access to services than their English-speaking counterparts do. CEI is very committed to ensure our services are delivered in language a participant needs. Many CEI staff members are bi-lingual or poly-lingual. We use extensive in-person and video interpretation in our clinics and in care planning.

We are always seeking to improve the care we provide to participants. There was a need to have improved conversations between monolingual participants and drivers, activity staff and home care aides.

Last fall, 25 Pocket-talk hand-held translators were distributed to the PACE Centers. Staff and participants are already raving about how effective and easy they are to use. During the recent CEI Foundation’s Combined Compassion Campaign and 40th Anniversary PACE party, generous donors and staff members gave to the Language Bridge Fund to acquire hand-held language devices. The foundation hopes to acquire more translation devices to expand the program.


Fernando Navarro, who speaks both English and Spanish fluently, says the participants in his service area are quite diverse. On the job, he uses translators in Chinese and Vietnamese languages the most often. His job of driving participants to appointments or the PACE Centers may seem simple. Still, even minor interactions and instructions, such as how to put on a seatbelt, can be laced with a level of difficulty if there are language barriers.

Having the translation devices on hand has further improved language inclusivity and embraces the cultures of its staff and participants.

«One Vietnamese couple was amazed when we first used the translator. It was like magic. They used to be so shy and quiet around me, but having these gadgets opened up the world for us. We talk about the weather, how they feel that day, and even our favorite music,» Fernando beams. «Now, they treat me like I’m their best friend.»

If you’d like to support the Language Bridge Fund, please visit You can underwrite a single hand-held translator for the donation of $300.