Blog & Information

Interpreting Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) additional Q&A

It was not possible to answer all the questions during the webinar, so we tried to cover all your additional questions here:


Q: What is a biological medical product or a biologic?

A: Biological products include a wide range of products such as vaccines, blood and blood components, allergenics, somatic cells, gene therapy, tissues, and recombinant therapeutic proteins. Biologics can be composed of sugars, proteins, or nucleic acids or complex combinations of these substances, or may be living entities such as cells and tissues.

Q: Remote interpretation is great, but what about when reception is not good, or when patient is a child, or the background noise cannot be controlled?

A: The remote interpreter can make a big difference when these technical and noise difficulties pop up. The provider and patient are already stressed, so a calm and reassuring interpreter can guide all parties to keep going, speak slowly and clearly, check for understanding.

The interpreter can encourage the provider to call again if the signal cuts out, if that problem is affecting the language system that day.

The interpreter should identify specific noise problems and make suggestions on how to shield the equipment, place it closer to the patient, or move the patient gurney down the hallway. A few feet can make a big difference to microphone pickup.

In tough noise situations use a corded set of two earbuds and separate the cord so that the provider and patient each has one earbud. Cords are 4 feet long, so by separating the cord, there can be about 7 feet of distance between patient and provider. Wipe down earbuds between use.

If using a phone interpreter rather than video, a great solution is to use the provider phone and the patient personal phone and have the phone interpreter service conference in the patient phone. Then both the provider and patient can hold their phones up their ears and hear more clearly.

Q: Is there a preferred platform for interpreters to use for remote interpreting due to connectivity and/or conferencing capabilities? Ex. Zoom vs WebEx vs 3rd Party?

A: Choice of platform is usually strictly controlled by the IT department in the organization, due to contracting rules, taking into consideration quality of connection and encryption for HIPAA protection. If providers are choosing their own platform, quality of signal should govern the choice, with this caveat.

HIPAA protection is not guaranteed for most ad hoc conferencing platforms, so use these guidelines to guard patient privacy: the interpreter should state to the provider at the beginning that the patient name and the name of the location of the encounter are not be mentioned during the conversation. 

Q: My follow-up question would be, how should court and conference interpreters adapt our practice? In terms of wearing masks and social distancing, how can we best protect ourselves in a crowded court room, or on the stand with a witness/defendant?

A: Guidance for wearing masks is maturing as we speak. We are now advised to wear homemade simple cloth masks everywhere, to protect those around us from our droplets rather than to protect ourselves.

An interpreter in court is in a tough situation unless she is in a booth, because normally the interpreter speaks quietly into the ear of the client as well as out loud to the court. Wearing a mask necessitates speaking in a louder and slower voice to the court. Using an interpreter microphone with earphones for the client would avoid physical proximity. The court or deposing lawyer should otherwise be providing guidance for all members of the encounter.

Use the same strict guidelines on not putting anything down on surfaces as healthcare interpreters. Wear a shoulder bag that hugs the body for your papers and necessities. Strict and frequent hand hygiene!

Q: Is the use of gloves and surgical masks (when you bring your own) recommended in regular appts even if the doctor and patient are not wearing them?

A: First, yes to wearing a mask. Healthcare workers, which includes interpreters, are  exposed to much more virus than the general public, which is a higher risk for getting infected. When appearing at an encounter request the same higher level of mask protection as the direct care staff who are in the treatment space with the patient. If the care team is wearing gloves, wear gloves. Use alcohol gel before putting on gloves and after taking them off. Do not put anything down in the treatment area or out in patient reception areas.

Q: How can we keep social distancing? In Workers Comps appts (and in mostly any appt) we interpreters sit next to patients and help them fill out a very lengthy questionnaire in a usually crowed waiting room…

A: It is very important both to not sit next to the patient AND to protect privacy for the patient. Either go outside or to the hallway to get some space while being able to speak loudly enough to converse without other people hearing. Or ask to be taken back to a room for privacy, and sit well apart. Or sit apart and use your cell phones to talk to each other quietly. Of course, ask if there is a questionnaire in the patient’s language, if the patient is literate and well enough to fill it out herself.

Q: Does COVID-19 have the potential to cross the placenta?

A: We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus that causes COVID-19 to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. No infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. 


Q: Is it safe to receive boxes from Amazon and mail if we don’t touch nose/eyes/mouth?

A: Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

Q: Once you develop antibodies following infection, can you still become infected again?

A: At this time it’s too soon to know as we are still learning about the virus.

Q: What’s the difference between testing and screening for COVID-19? 

A: The screening process begins when you contact your provider to discuss your symptoms and it will begin with a series of questions. The nurse or staff member decides whether your symptoms may be due to COVID-19 or another illness requiring treatment. You might get advice on self-care since symptoms often can be treated at home. The nurse/staff member may arrange a telephone visit between you and a health care provider or tell you to call your provider directly. The provider can talk with you about possible exposure, your symptoms, and discusses treatment. The provider may give you self-care advice to use at home. Or, he or she may tell you to go to your primary care clinic or emergency to be tested. It’s important to call first so we can protect you, other patients, and medical staff from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.


Sources: Linda Golley, CDC.gov, who.int, fda.gov, chemistryviews.org

Video Remote Interpreting education for all

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind nowadays. For some it still is only the news you read and watch, however, it is a painful reality. With our remote team-member’s uncle dying last week of coronavirus, the pandemic hits close to home. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and everyone directly affected by COVID-19. 

Scientists recommend washing hands and staying home unless absolutely necessary to prevent the spread and stop the virus. In China, when students and teachers recently returned to class, they did so remotely. 

Interpreter Education Online stays committed to our students, instructors and associates, working diligently and extra hours to assist your education and career needs.  The demand for remote interpreting is growing exponentially amid the uncertainty of the situation. 

We recognize that the onsite interpreting already is and will continue to be significantly impacted in the coming weeks. To help our students shift their careers, as well as to protect their safety, we decided to temporarily waive the cost of $229 for our Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) course. Starting from today and until June 1, you will get free access to the course Working as a VRI Interpreter after purchasing any other interpreting course.
 
The following expert webinars on VRI and their CEUs are now completely free and available for everyone:
 
Video Remote Interpreting: Pros and Cons by Dr. Elena Rivera-Patton 

https://interpretereducationonline.com/video-remote-interpreting-education-for-all/

To register for the webinars, simply send a request to Services@InterpreterEducationOnline.com

Let’s get everyone on VRI! Or, as one of our course administrators and the biggest introvert used to say, let’s unite separately in our own homes.

In all seriousness, stay healthy and safe. We are here for you. 

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Interpreters Want to See You Shine

I love my job. I know, I am lucky! The agencies that hire me usually go beyond the norm. But their clients have no idea of the work we do, the preparation required, the pressure we perform under and the minimum requirements for us to deliver at the level they want. And that usually spells problems.

“Working Conditions”? What is that?

Performing without a booth at a large conference was never a consideration of mine. Who would EVER request that? Yup, it has happened. A group of interpreters is added last minute and there you are; a team goes without a booth. Interpreting from a half-booth in a stairwell? Been there, done that. More people than expected signed up for the event, so instead of moving the meeting to a larger venue, the organizers removed the interpreters from the room and placed them into the stairwell next door. A safety hazard, but the show must go on. How about standing up behind the AV console because the event planner forgot to hire the interpreters? (I thought I was getting a break!) Or working from the mechanical area where all the equipment is stored? For sure! Dark, hot, and you must be extra careful not to trip on a cable and disconnect something…

Unbeknownst to our clients, there are professional standards covering everything from the materials and dimensions of the booths we work in, the quality of the sound we are fed, the languages we speak (no, Portuñol is not a language), how long each professional can cover solo, to the recording of our voices, and much more. We also have Codes of Ethics to follow. There are Codes of Ethics for medical interpreters, federal and state court interpreters, conference interpreters, and the professional associations we are affiliated with also have their own Codes of Ethics.

Really! We are responsible professionals. Does that apply to 100% of us? No. There are exceptions, just like any other profession. Don’t let that one bad apple spoil your trust.

Lack of foresight affects everyone

I wish I could tell you that the mishaps I mentioned above took place in events for small, low-budget companies. No, it was exactly the opposite for each of those events – and there are many more examples. The reason such mishaps occur is because interpreting services are usually an afterthought. The impression we get is that when companies realize “some of those attending the event don’t speak English,” they do not have a full vision of the situation. Allow me to share some insights.

When “some of those attending do not speak English,” that means you will need to:

  • hire professionals who can interpret into the languages those guys speak
  • hire a pair for each language spoken, if you require their services for longer than 45 minutes at a time
  • provide proper working space for these professionals and

> that space must have a view of the speaker – whether direct or indirect

> if indirect, that means having monitors available in the booths or in view of the booths

  • provide some means of ventilation so the professionals can breathe (yes, really!)
  • count them among your guests or staff for food purposes
  • provide fresh water in the booths, in bottles for safety
  • know that interpreters need to study the material to deliver quality
  • know that professional interpreters are bound by Codes of Ethics, which include confidentiality
  • be aware that our work starts at least two weeks before your event, not when we enter the booth

Interpreters are all-knowing beings. NOT!

One detail most of our clients fail to understand is that interpreters are not necessarily subject matter experts. Yes, we speak at least two languages and we are fluent in both. But that does not mean we are able to discuss every subject under the sun in the same language of your speaker and with the same fluency. An example: would you be able to discuss Astrophysics with an authority in that field in your own language? There are subjects of which we all have a passive understanding.

And, please, be aware that delivering the presentation to us two minutes before showtime can be counter-productive. We need time to study your material to be ready, to help your politicians or scientists or physicians or researchers sound as intelligent in the foreign languages as they do in their own.

But we don’t have the material,” you say. Easy: provide to us a link to last year’s event, speakers’ biographies, the agenda and we will do the research, develop glossaries, study what is available. You can get more ideas in my 2016 article Embrace Your Interpreter.

I want to convey to you, our clients, that when you commission us, professional interpreters, to be your company’s voice and help you convert your ROI, we become part of your team. Treat us as such. After all, we are a big investment in your project.

We want to see you, the client, shine because that’s when we shine.

———–

All photos by Gio Lester. All rights reserved.

The article first appeared on Gio’s LinkedIn
To learn more about conference interpreting from Gio, check out this webinar.

Featured Interpreter: Giovanna Lester

Q: How long have you been an interpreter and why/how did you get started in the field?

It was 1979 when I first started interpreting for my boss as part of my job. I did not know that was a profession or that it could become a career. The next year I was laid off as part of the company’s reorganization process, and I discovered that my knowledge of English could put food on the table. I started teaching the language, then my students (company executives) started requesting my services as an interpreter and that’s how I started. I had to do it all: simultaneous, sight, consecutive, chuchotage.

Q: What was your first interpreting job?

Interpreting in the office for American Express clients and VIPs in Brazil. In the US, I was expected to interpret as an escort for executives of the bank I worked at, and my first conference was the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative in 1992, under President Bush, Sr.

Q: How do you prepare for assignments?

Research. I am so extremely grateful for the Internet! Most of my work is for international conferences and confidential. Many companies do not understand our oath of confidentiality and refuse to give us material. But YouTube, search engines, TedTalks, and online publications make it a lot easier to fill in the blanks.

The first step, if the client refuses to send material, is to check into the company. Then check the previous year’s event or events in other companies in the same segment. If you can find who the speakers are going to be, check YouTube for any videos – that will help you with style, vocabulary, rhythm, accents, etc.

Recently, I attended a 2-day workshop by Darinka Mangino and Maha El-Metwally on computer aided interpreting and learned a few tools to help with glossary creation, term extraction and training. They will be put to good use.

Q: What was the funniest/most interesting experience on the job?

It was a financial conference in the gorgeous Gaylord Resort, in Texas. We had a special breakout session just for the Brazilian group and, unfortunately, the tech guy provided the team with the wrong transmitter. I had to start on consecutive so as not to waste time. Mind you, since we had the equipment, I left my notepad in the booth and all I had with me was a 3×3 inches “idea booklet” – a souvenir from one of the stands we passed on the way. Well, 30 minutes later, the right equipment arrived, but they chose to continue on consecutive –“It was more fun!”

Q: What was the saddest experience on the job?

Oh, that one almost had me in tears. It was an IME (Independent Medical Examination) for a case involving a severe head injury. After the physician evaluated the patient, it was his wife’s turn to ask questions. They were very young, less than 5 years married, in their early twenties, with all of their dreams still being born… And she asked the doctor when her husband would get back to normal. I had to take a sip of water before speaking.

Q: Which social media do you use, if any? If you do, what are your most favorite pages/accounts/groups to read?

I have three Twitter accounts – one is going to be retired soon. My personal account is @cariobana, and my business account is @ConVTI2019. Right now, I follow avidly @TranslationTalk, a rotationally-curated account with a new curator every Sunday. It has become a vice. @MadalynSklar is a marketing guru and I love the work she does; it is not T&I related, but there is much we, as entrepreneurs, can learn from her. @LinguaGreca, by Catherine Christaki, always has great stuff. @Ana Lucia Amaral covers business intelligence, cyber security and marketing. The other accounts are colleagues and associations – @fit_ift, @FIT_LatAm, @_abrates, @atanet, @NAJITOrg, @NAJITObserver – all organizations I am involved with. I mean, I have about 100 more I can put here.

And I belong to a plethora of groups on Facebook: medical interpreting, court interpreting, conference interpreting, fun groups, colleagues-helping-colleagues group… They are so numerous because I belong to groups in all of the three languages I am involved with – English, Portuguese, and Spanish (desperately want to learn more Spanish vocabulary).

Q: What are your favorite movies/literature in your target language? Can you recommend something to our readers?

 I left Brazil almost 35 years ago, and I am ashamed to say I have not kept up with its classical literature. I read mostly a style called “crônicas” – short stories that stand alone, sometimes shorter than one page. João Ubaldo Ribeiro and Luiz Fernando Veríssimo are my favorite. Their style is very contemporary and fresh.

My favorite movies are from the 80s, Gaijin, the history of Japanese immigration to Brazil, and Eles não usam black-tie (People like us).

Q: What advice would you give to an up-and-coming interpreter?

  • Learn the business side of the profession.
  • Read the Codes of Ethics: they are there to protect YOU.
  • Do not speak in anger. Develop a standard phrase for those situations, like “I understand and will look into it.”

Q: As a former Vice President of the National Board who advised candidates preparing for the medical certification exam, what can you recommend our readers and students aiming to get certified?

My first recommendation is to visit the IMIA website. The IMIA is an umbrella organization and candidates will find information on many areas related to Medical Interpreting, especially resources. The next step would be to visit both the CCHI and National Board websites for more resources and training materials. The tests are not necessarily one easier than the other: they both require 40 hours of training and focus during the exam itself.

Once the candidate chooses which exam to take – many take both – focus on the requirements of that one.

Q: What do you do to develop your professional skills? Webinars, conferences? If the latter, which conferences do you prefer and why? 

All of the above, books, workshops, listen to the radio and now podcasts in both languages I work with. I have not developed the courage to delve into podcasts in Spanish.

Recently, I went to the Cuba-Quebec 11th Symposium on T&I, in Varadero, Cuba, the 3rd Int’l Conference of the Panamanian T&I Association, in Panama City, Panama, the 10th Int’l Conference of the Brazilian T&I Association, in São Paulo, Brazil. I also attend non-T&I related events, such as Unbound (marketing), speakers’ workshops, etc.

I recommend that people join associations in the countries whose languages they speak. That’s why I am a member of the American Translators Association and of the Brazilian Translators and Interpreters Association. It is an affordable way to stay in touch with my languages. I also take courses in both languages. Right now, I am studying Comparative Law at a Brazilian online school.

Q: Is there anything you feel lacking in educational options out there? If you were to choose the topic for a new webinar or course, what would it be?

Jonathan Hine’s business essentials. There is plenty of training on how to be a good professional, but very little on how to run your own business, what tools are available to assist us, how to negotiate fair prices and working conditions. Also, contract negotiations. That is a hard one. Most freelancers in our profession believe they can not negotiate terms and that the agencies have an anvil over their heads. That attitude must change if we really want to be respected as professionals.

Q: What would you like changed or improved in the industry?

Do you have a year??? Just kidding. The number one thing is to teach end users of interpreting services that interpreters are human beings. That interpreters are not always subject matter experts and don’t know all the words in the dictionary. That if clients want to be understood, they have to pace themselves and allow for the interpreting process to take place: stop interrupting the interpreter with extra information!

And payment is not a luxury, it is how we make a living.

Basically, I think most professional training is right on and there’s little improvement needed, but our clients need a lesson on how to use our services. Yes, it is a generalization, so take it with a grain of salt from someone who has been active in the profession for over 39 years, in different countries, in different settings.  

Q: What is the most important to be successful as an interpreter, in your opinion?

Learn to listen actively. Don’t focus on how you are going to frame what was said as much as on the essence of what is being said. Notice the difference in verb tense: be in the moment.

That is, assuming you have the required ability to deliver what is expected of you: a clear message, nearly as eloquently delivered by the speaker as possible.

You can find Gio on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Interpreting: Stepping into the Booth for the First Time

By Gio Lester

The text below is aimed at individuals who have been trained but are stepping into a booth as professionals for the first time. These are my thoughts —nothing scientific about them, just good old experience, gut and gumption.

So, the first thing you need to do is RELAX. The second is practice. You have most of the skills and now it is a matter of aligning those you have and maybe adding a few more.

There are a few sites on the internet to help you (later) and a few things I can share:

  1. Remember, at a conference, you will not interpret word for word: Pay attention to the whole message.
  2. Breathe. You will start to speak after a complete idea is put forth: Good Morning is a complete idea; The good, kind, honest [??] is not a complete idea because you do not know the noun all those adjectives apply to (doctor, professor, man, kid?).
    • Learn to pace yourself
    • During your practice, play with decalage [time between hearing the message in L1 and delivering it in L2] and allow yourself time to understand the message
  3. It is important for conference interpreters to identify the speaker’s style.
    • Loves to fill in the gaps: You know, well, let me just tell you… >> they allow you to jump through these empty nuggets of sound and get to the real subject with less pressure.
    • Runs like the wind: Speaks at 180-210 words a minute >> if they are also like the example above, that means you can breathe easier, otherwise, there isn’t much you can do other than switch more often with your colleague.
    • Knows how to present: You got an ally, just pace yourself.
  4. The conference website is a treasure trove of information you can use to strengthen your performance. Even last year’s website, especially when the material on the current event is hard to come by.
    • Look up who the speakers are.
    • Check if YouTube has any of their previous appearances and listen to them (accents, language vices, speed).
    • Copy their bios and read them. Try to summarize the texts because very likely they will be read at breakneck speed:
      • Mary Strider Naggut-Lo, President and CEO of Lo & Behold Inc., has a Ph.D. in Martial Arts, a BA in Marketing; served as Marketing Manager at We Got It International, with headquarters in Qatar, General Marketing Advisor at News For You, with main offices in Austria, Head of Marketing at One, Two, Take Off, Inc, with offices in Paris …. >> write down the relevant information: name, current employment, most important degree; summarize the rest. Held many administrative positions at various international organizations [or whatever works in your case]. Do listen during the actual event in case there is an update.
    • Unusual vocabulary: You can find out a lot about the company and speakers and create a glossary based on that.
    • Check their competition online just for extra vocabulary.
  5. At a conference, you are helping the speaker tell a story so
    • Listen attentively.
    • Write down specific data (dates, numbers, amounts – things you might forget – MAR 20, 2K = 2000, >5 = more than 5 [I am especially horrible with numbers!].

Here are the websites I use when speaking about interpreting. I strongly suggest you check them out but choose only one or two to work with at a time—you do not want to overload.

Once in the booth, you and your colleague will take turns on the microphone because your brain will melt after 30 minutes (not literally) and you will not notice—just like the frog in boiling water. And yesit is a generalization but with lots of data to back it up. There are a few instances when one can go for longer than 40 minutes without losing quality, and that will depend a lot on the speaker and the interpreter’s knowledge of the subject. Another thing to mind in the booth is your manners, but that would take a whole new article; for now, just read the second link below.

Still curious? Here is more on simultaneous interpreting:

About the author:

Brazilian-born Giovanna “Gio” Lester, Co-Chair of NAJIT’s PR Committee, started her career in translation and interpreting in 1980. Gio is very active in her profession and in the associations she is affiliated with. In 2009, she co-founded the Florida ATA Chapter (ATIF), served as its first elected president (2011-2012), and later as president of its interim board. As an international conference interpreter, Gio has been the voice of government heads and officials, scientists, researchers, doctors, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, investors and more. Gio has been a contributor to The NAJIT Observer since its inception in 2011, and its Editor since 2016. In 2017 she was appointed Chair of the Miami Dade College Translation and Interpretation Advisory Committee, which she had been a member of since 2014. In 2018, Gio was elected to the Executive Committee of the Brazilian Association of Translators and Interpreters,  Abrates, as its General Secretary. You can follow her on Twitter (@cariobana) and she can also be reached at gio@giolester.com.

This article first appeared on najit.org

ATA Members to Vote on 23rd ATA Division

By Tram Bui, Administrator of Southeast Asian Language Division (SEALD)

The typical role of a professional association is to enable individual practitioners to collaborate, learn from each other, and speak with a (hopefully) unified, collective voice. For 60 years, the American Translators Association (ATA) has been the voice of translators, and more recently, interpreters practicing in the US. Over the years, divisions were formed to make collaborations easier among linguists who speak particular languages or who have a common topical interest.

I lead a group that has petitioned the ATA to form a South East Asian Language Division, and our request has been accepted. Most professional linguists who work in these languages have learned their trade with limited access to formal skills training and have not had the opportunity to collaborate with their linguistic and cultural peers. Many, if not most, have earned a post-secondary degree, either at the bachelor or graduate level, but have struggled as they sought to provide services professionally. Most have been troubled when observing other linguists, who were providing services for a fee, fall short of industry standards. Both clients and the profession suffer when this happens.

Our Goal: Our vision is to promote professional practice standards that are consistent with the ATA’s stated norms and values. We want to do this in a forum, and in an adapted way that encourages learning with a culturally relevant approach.

Our Challenge: In the US, despite a large number of immigrants from this region who are monolingual and who often have a common experience of refugee status, there are relatively few members of the ATA who use these languages professionally. Most linguists who practice in these languages do so independently, without a connection to, or awareness of, a larger collective. There are several reasons for this, and in end, professionalism and job prospects suffer.

Our Request: If you work in a South East Asian Language, please join us! Whether you want to learn or share your experience with others, you have a place in our division. If you are an ATA member, regardless of your working languages, please consider supporting our new division by voting for its formation. We hope to attract more linguists to the ATA, particularly those practicing a language used in any of the ASEAN countries. The major languages in these SE Asian countries are Burmese, Hmong, Lao, Indonesian, Khmer, Malay, Nepali, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. Finally, if you have ideas for content that can be shared or be adapted, we would love that too.

We RISE when we UPLIFT each other.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tram Bui is a NBCMI Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI- Vietnamese) with over 15 years of experience. She was born in Saigon, Vietnam and emigrated in 1975 as a political refugee. She now lives in Arizona. She is a voting member of the American Translators Association (ATA), an active member of the Arizona Translators and Interpreters Association (ATI), Interpreters Guild of America (IGA), and the National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare (NCIHC).

She can be reached by email at: teechedu@gmail.com

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