Company provides interpretation services

Other than a word or two here and there, Doug Reed doesn't speak anything but English. But he makes a living out of foreign languages.

He's the president of Accipio Language Services, a Lexington-based company that supplies interpreters and translators for businesses and agencies across the state.

Accipio loosely means "understanding" in Latin, and that's just what Reed aims to provide. He uses about 30 subcontractors from across the state who, together, speak about a dozen languages including Spanish, Russian, French, Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese, Italian and Bosnian.

Medical facilities, including most Lexington hospitals, and hospitals and clinics in Danville and Louisville, make up the bulk of Accipio's clientele.

But, occasionally, Accipio interpreters are needed in court and for conferences with attendees who don't speak English. Accipio provides interpreters for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services and for the Social Security Administration.

Spanish interpreters are, by far, the most in demand, Reed said in a recent interview. He might need an interpreter for a rarer language, such as Arabic, only four or five hours a month.

"We kind of focus on the medical," said Reed, who has worked in the health care industry. Accipio, he said, keeps him hopping. Reed handles all of the appointments, billing and marketing for the business he started about four years ago. On an average day, Accipio has about 15 jobs.

A week ago, Reed got to see some of his interpreters in action — something that doesn't happen often because they're usually working in medical settings that call for privacy.

Accipio provided the services of Spanish speakers Maria Raffay and Allan Alvarez for Alltech's 25th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium at Lexington Center.

Although the two interpreters are fluent in Spanish, they had to study biology-related vocabulary to prepare for the symposium.

"They're talking about genetics," Raffay said. "My degree is in biology, so a lot of things sound familiar."

Raffay and Alvarez sat at a table topped with a boothlike screen glassed in on three sides and took turns interpreting the words of the English-speaking presenters for Spanish-speaking members of the audience, who listened through earphones. Raffay and Alvarez interpreted each word within a split second after it was said.

"Simultaneous (interpreting) is mentally exhausting, so you have to take turns," Reed said. Consecutive interpreting, usually used in small settings where the interpreter relates what is being said between a professional and a client, is much easier to do, he said.

"This is the first time we're having local help," said Jorge Arias, Alltech's global aquaculture division director. "It's good to know there is a company in charge of these sort of jobs here."

While Accipio has used non-native speakers of a language as interpreters, Reed said, "our strong preference is for native speakers."

Most of its business involves interpreting, but Accipio does offer translation of documents, such as birth certificates and patient medical instructions, Reed said.

The business requires that he keep on top of population trends in the area, he said.

This year, he has received three or four requests for Nepali speakers from Lexington-area businesses.

"We haven't actually done Nepali yet," he said, adding that he recently found an interpreter for that language.

"There's a large Bosnian population in Louisville that I didn't know about until I got into this business," he said.