Blog & Information
When working on an immigration case, the last thing attorneys want to worry about is an interpreter who is not competent or professional. We asked an immigration attorney Leonid Garbuzov for his input on what makes a great immigration interpreter. Below are some of his suggestions about what attorneys and judges expect from the interpreter.
- Be Prepared
Nothing is worse than an interpreter that comes unprepared. Always bring a pen, paper and a legal dictionary. Brush up on your legal terminology. Don’t be late and don’t schedule other assignments for the same morning or afternoon as your immigration hearing, as you never know how long you will be there.
2. Learn Your Terminology but Don’t Be a Know-It-All
While you should not expect the attorney, immigration officer, or the judge to explain legal terminology, you have to be sure that you understand the subject matter. One illustrative example from my experience was an interpreter who mistranslated a question about an immigrant’s potential ties with “guerrilla organizations”, and asked whether he ever belonged to a “gorilla organization”. When in doubt, it is better to ask. If you realize that a mistake has occurred, you have to notify the judge, hearing officer, or the attorney immediately, and explain and correct the mistake.
3. Do Not Add or Take Away From What’s Being Said
Another mistake is when an interpreter tries to add personal comments in order to make the subject matter easier to understand. While the hearing officer, the client, or the attorney may not always be clear, it is not the interpreter’s job to “second-guess” and help them. In one instance, when a client of mine with a serious mental impairment could not respond to an immigration officer’s questions, the interpreter tried to tell him that he was answering incorrectly, and even attempted to suggest what the correct answer should be. Such conduct by an interpreter is never appropriate.
4. Be Confident
Finally, it is important to not get riled up and to keep a professional demeanor. This is especially important when an attorney—particularly the one who speaks the same language as the client – decides to challenge the accuracy of your translation. It is important to know that these challenges are not uncommon and that they do not necessarily mean that an interpreter made a mistake or a misstatement. An interpreter must remain undeterred by these tactics, must keep his/her voice clear, and must continue to interpret to the best of his/her ability without being swayed by these challenges.
By Leonid Garbuzov of Garbuzov Law Firm, PLLC, special for IEO
IEO offers a comprehensive course developed by professional immigration interpreters and immigration attorneys. Immigration interpreting presents unique sets of challenges and requirements, so it’s essential for any interpreter to learn the protocol and legal concepts to understand and succeed in this field.
Today, we celebrate the start of International Week of the Deaf 2016. An initiative that launched in 1958 in Rome, Italy by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD). Since then it has been celebrated annually by the Deaf community all over the globe.
Last week of September of each year sees a highly concerted move towards global advocacy and awareness. WFD aims to spread its message as widely as possible to ensure that its campaign is noticed through media coverage.
In honor of the Deaf Awareness Week, Interpreter Education Online (IEO), leading healthcare and legal interpreter training organization, is offering a special discount for ASL Interpreters. In partnership with CEUs on the GO, IEO offers courses that offer RID CEUs. And from now through September 25, 2016, ASL Interpreters will receive 20% off any course taken through IEO.
Contact us for a coupon!
Every day we post a medical or legal term of the day for our interpreters. If you are on Twitter, follow us and join for the contest: respond to our Term of The Day with your translation into your target language. ASL interpreters can record and post videos with interpretation of the term.
Those who will tweet the most number of term translations or ASL interpretations in the end of each month have a chance to win 30% discount off any of our single-topic courses or free access to any of our webinars!
All 50 states have well established prerequisites, testing and certification processes for their court interpreters. To find out the requirements for your state, look for the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) site for your state. If you Google “AOC interpreter certification” and the name of your state, you will be directed to the site for additional information and the testing dates that are relevant for your area.
Unlike court interpreting in the U.S., where all 50 states have a process overseen by their respective AOCs, medical interpreting has only had state certification since 1991 for one state. The State of Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) certified medical and social service interpreters. National healthcare interpreter certification is only available for specific languages, and has only been available since 2010. Oregon has skipped implementing a state process and requires national certification for healthcare interpreters working in state hospitals. This is a growing trend in many states.
For more information regarding Washington’s state certifications for medical and social services interpreting, visit: https://www.dshs.wa.gov/fsa/language-testing-and-certification-program
DSHS-WA currently certifies medical interpreters in the following eight languages:
- Chinese Cantonese
- Chinese Mandarin
DSHS currently certifies social service interpreters, medical interpreters, translators, DSHS active and potential bilingual employees and licensed agency personnel in the above languages.
For all other languages, The Department authorizes social service interpreters and medical interpreters using a screening test. All other languages are screened and authorized by DSHS, but only the eight languages listed above are certified languages for medical interpreters in the State of Washington.
The national certifying bodies also certify only in specific, high demand languages. Beginning in 2010, two national certifying bodies, Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the National Certification Board for Medical interpreters (NCBMI) began certifying interpreters whose second language is Spanish.
Each year since then has resulted in the introduction of an additional language certification test. Currently, CCHI has certified approximately 1,800 healthcare interpreters nationally as CHIs, and NBCMI has certified approximately 1,300 medical interpreters nationwide.
Combined, both of these national certifying bodies, CCHI and NBCMI, offer healthcare interpreter certification for seven languages: Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean. Pre-requisites to register for the written and oral proficiency tests include a high school diploma and a minimum of 40 hours of medical interpreter training.
For the Deaf community, the certifying body that assesses and certifies ASL interpreters is known as Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). Although there is currently no medical sub-specialty training for ASL interpreters, they do offer specialized training in interpreting for mental health. However, contrast their number of certified interpreters with the spoken language certifications and you will be impressed.
Currently in the U.S. there are more than 16,000 RID certified ASL interpreters! The prerequisites for obtaining and maintaining certification are stricter for ASL interpreters than for spoken language interpreters. Among the stricter prerequisites for ASL are a college degree plus six units of CEUs every year to keep ASL certifications current.
If you are an interpreter, I urge you to pursue national certification. If you supervise a program or own an interpreter agency, I strongly urge you to encourage your staff and agency interpreters who work for you to pursue national certification.
Special for IEO
The number of nonprofit organizations registered with the IRS increased 2.8% from 2003 to 2013, for a total of 1.41 million organizations.[i] Meaning that even during the recession they showed momentum, and they contributed an estimated US $905,9 billion to the economy (2013).[ii]
Professional associations are a type of nonprofit and they aim to serve the needs of specialized groups. In exchange for their services they earn exemptions from the government according to IRS and states’ rules and regulations. The IRS offers a wealth of information on non-profits, how to incorporate, required language, how to choose the type that fits your objectives, etc. See the reference section below for a collection of related websites.[iii]
Once you identify the form your entity will take, it is time to develop the documents that will guide it into the future.
The Articles of Incorporation are your association’s constitution. It will define its name, place of business, objectives, how it will be governed, and terminated. Click here for some useful information.
Another important document is the Bylaws. It defines the rules of engagement. For example, in the Articles of Incorporation the association determines that Board members will be elected by voting members. In the Bylaws you determine how often these elections will take place, how they are staggered to allow for old and new members to work side-by-side, how long the terms are, how many times one can be reelected, how the elections will be carried out, how to handle board vacancies, how to handle members’ complaint, etc. Click here to see samples.
The third document you need is your Procedures Manual, the playbook. In it the association defines routine procedures to avoid duplication of tasks, increase efficacy and efficiency, appoint who is going to do what and how. Keeping with the elections theme, in the Procedures Manual there would be templates for the documents used during election: notice to members, package for candidates, calendar of elections; rules on how to establish an Election/Nominations Committee, etc. I found a good starting point for a Procedures Manual here.
Another important point: all documents are organic and should be updated as needed. The growth and maturity of the organization are to be reflected in those documents for the good health of the organization.
It is important to understand that a non-profit is a business: You have a product, goals, stakeholders (you call them “members”). You need a corporate identity; instead of departments, you have committees; you will need administrative personnel. You will need to define talking points, long-, short- and short-short-term goals, then, you assign those to someone. Meaning, identifying the need for an action is not enough, you need to assign the action to someone who will be held accountable.
Finances are a very important part of your growth and continuity. Once you reach a strong financial position (3 times your operating expenses, for example), create a Reserve, an Operational and a Projects accounts. The Reserve Account is a guarantee for the future of the organization and should not be tapped except for emergencies; the Operational Account includes petty cash, recurring payments, etc.; and the Projects account is supposed to cover expenses with the entity’s main goal(s). The way the Board decides to divvy up the treasury, determines how funds are to be allocated from there on, i.e. funds coming into the entity are to be divided into each of those accounts. They can be accrued and divided at the end of a previously agreed upon period, but all accounts should receive a portion of funds coming into the treasury. You also need to plan for continuity. The three framework documents, the reserve account and elections are your strategic pilars.
The strength of your organization rests with your members. Keeping them engaged and committed is vital for a vibrant organization. Showcasing your members’ talents is a great way to foster loyalty and commitment. In the organization I presided, board members were encouraged to participate in at least one committee. Committees were chaired by non-board members and the board member became the liaison to the Board, providing direct access. Through committee work, members become familiar with the workings of the organization and, later on may serve on the Board. Members will become engaged when there are well defined goals that meet their needs, when they see their work recognized, when their involvement has a specific beginning and end, when their dues are turned into value beyond the actual cost.
Creating aggregate value for their membership is easy to accomplish through relationships with other associations and vendors. Offer those associations and vendors the opportunity to speak to your members or to sponsor an event, such as providing refreshments in exchange for their name on the program and promotional material as sponsors. Offer also to speak at their meetings. Contact the American Translators Association (ATA), International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters to see about continuing education points. Some presentations can cross professions: medical terminology can be used by translators and medical, court and conference interpreters.
Just like a family or other organic groups, there are phases in the life of an organization. Once I was point-blank asked if I was sick because I chose to leave a leadership position. Leaders also have to set goals and realize when it is time let other voices have their thunder.
It is emotionally cathartic to go through the experience. And it is very important to know the signs. Sometimes the signs do not come from your organization, but from people close to you who miss your presence in their lives; sometimes it is the organization that is acting like a well-reared teenager. Either way, the moment comes to let others have the strength of their voices heard. It is your moment to feel proud, step back and enjoy.
By Gio Lester, special for Interpreter Education Online
[i] Non-profit Sector in Brief 2014 – http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/413277-The-Nonprofit-Sector-in-Brief–.PDF
National Center for Charitable Statistics: http://nccs.urban.org/statistics/upload/US_Nonprofit_Numbers-2.pdf
This week’s blog will be the first part of a four-part series. We’ll be looking at the difference between interpreter certification versus interpreter training (that often leads to a certificate).
Part 1 will clarify the difference between what it means to be a certified interpreter as compared to having obtained a certificate of training. Part 2 will detail all of the currently available certifications for interpreters, at both the state and federal levels, for ASL (American Sign Language) and for spoken language interpreters. Part 3 will cover training requirements related to these certifications and how to find quality training for yourself locally. We’ll look at quality training for interpreters and translators, and look at courses specifically created for interpreters who work in healthcare and the courts. Part 4 will review quality trainings available online.
Being bilingual does not automatically indicate or equal the ability to interpret. Just as the needed skill sets for interpreting as compared to translating are remarkably different, a similar case can be made for bilingualism not being a sufficient guarantee of competency for one to work as an interpreter. This is particularly true for Heritage speakers.
Increasingly, more and more hospitals are moving to a policy of only allowing certified interpreters, even if booked through an agency, on-site. All 50 states individually require all interpreters to be certified or registered as a court interpreter with the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts).
It is important for interpreters to understand which certifications provide valid credentials so they may choose intelligently among the options that are available to them.
So, let’s understand what it meant when someone says they are “certified.” Many people conflate the meaning of ‘certified’ with having a ‘certificate.’
A certificate of completion, or a certificate of attendance, is not the same thing, nor is it equal to being nationally or state certified. Being certified means your proficiency has been assessed impartially by a third party. It is official recognition by the certifying body that you possess certain qualifications and meet certain standards. A certificate, on the other hand, attests to attendance and successful completion of a course of study or targeted training. Certificates are issued by the same entity that offered the training, rather than an impartial third party who developed and administered the proficiency tests.
There are many national certifications available to spoken language and ASL interpreters, for specific practice areas such as court, conference and healthcare, but there aren’t nearly as many certifying bodies.
Here below are the acronyms you should be looking for as you research interpreter trainings, as these organizations are the only certifying national bodies for interpreters. ASL interpreters do not have a medical sub-specialty credential yet that is offered by their national certifying body.
The official certifying bodies for each sub-specialty are as follows:
For spoken language interpreters in courts:
- AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts), each state has their own AOC
For spoken language interpreters in healthcare:
- NBCMI (National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters)
- CMI (Certified Medical Interpreter)
- CCHI (Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters)
- CHI (Certified Healthcare Interpreter)
For spoken language interpreters in conferences:
Becoming certified offers many advantages in terms of employability, rates paid, as well as your own professional development. All certifications require continuing education units to stay viable, and these CEs need to be completed within specified time-frames. This ensures that all certified individuals keep their skills sharp and up to date to deliver the best language access services to clients.
You should visit the site for the organization that administers the certification tests for your area of specialization. They will spell out what is required to obtain, as well as what is required to maintain, your certification.
Just because you are certified in one sub-specialty, does not mean you can skip the certification process for a different sub-specialty. Someone who is court-certified is not sufficiently trained in medical terminology and medical ethics/standards of practice/HIPAA to do the job in a healthcare setting, even though they may possess excellent language skills in English and the target language, and excellent conversion skills for either consecutive or simultaneous interpretation. They would still lack subject matter expertise, bilingual medical terminology and knowledge of process for clinics and hospitals. The same holds true for a healthcare interpreter attempting to interpret for a court session. Acting outside your area of specialization could put your client or patient at risk, or compromise the case should it even go to appeal.
Part 2 of this blog will detail all the available certifications by practice area, so you can decide for yourself which one would be the best fit for you.
Special for IEO