Certification Exam Changes
There are major changes ahead for the ATA Certification Exam in 2017.
- Eligibility Requirements. Education and experience requirements needed to take the exam will be discontinued in January 2017. Why? Because they failed to predict the chances of an individual passing the exam. And that was the whole point—to ensure that exam candidates were not taking the exam before they were ready.
Note: An exam candidate still needs to be an ATA member in order to take the exam.
- Exam Passages. All three exam passages will be general text in 2017. Why? Because people misunderstood labeling texts as medical, technical, or scientific text and legal, commercial, or financial. The intent of the exam has always been to certify translation competence as a whole, not competence based on a specialty.
- Practice Tests. Practice tests will become available for download in the near future. Why? Because it's crucial for exam candidates to know what they are walking into—not what they think, but what they know. The practice test is the best way to do that. Making it easier to take the practice test may encourage more people to do it.
- Candidate Preparation Workshops. The Certification Committee is working to increase the availability of these workshops, as both live sessions and webinars. Why? Because they are another way for candidates to understand the exam and take a good look at whether they are ready for it.
- Computerized Exam Option. More testing sites will offer computerized exam sittings next year. Why? Because now that the problem with exam security has been resolved, it makes sense to give exam candidates more of the tools they use in their translation work.
Court Blocks Texas From Enforcing Voter Restrictions for Interpreters
Texas Tribune (TX) (10/13/16) Ura, Alexa
In a clash between Texas law and the federal Voting Rights Act, a federal judge has stopped the state from enforcing an obscure election provision regarding interpreters. The dispute is part of an ongoing legal battle over a little-noticed provision of Texas election law requiring interpreters to be registered voters in the same county in which they are providing assistance. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled that the provision violates the federal Voting Rights Act. As a result, the provision will not be in effect during the upcoming election. The Secretary of State's office has updated poll worker training material to be consistent with the ruling. In addition, voter education groups focusing on language-minority voters are working to ensure that voters are notified that they can bring someone to help them vote. But the case has highlighted a piece of Texas election law that appears to be at odds with federal protections for voters who are unable to read or write in English. At the heart of the case is whether voters are expected to know the difference between an "interpreter" and an "assistor" in the eyes of Texas election law. One provision of Texas law allows for "assistors." It states that voters can receive help reading or marking a ballot and that assistance "occurs while the person is in the presence of the voter's ballot." A separate provision allows voters to select an "interpreter" to help them communicate with an election officer and "accompany the voter to the voting station for the purpose of interpreting the ballot to the voter." However, the interpreter, unlike an assistor, must be registered to vote in the same county. Judge Pitman says the restrictions placed on interpreters "flatly contradict" the Voting Rights Act, restricting a voter with limited English proficiency by "arbitrarily" requiring the interpreter to be registered to vote in the same county. The state is currently appealing Pitman's ruling.
Members of British Parliament Say Post-Brexit Language Crisis Possible
BBC News (United Kingdom) (10/17/16) Burns, Judith
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Modern Languages says the British government must plan now to avoid a post-Brexit language crisis. APPG says more U.K. officials with language skills will be needed after the country leaves the European Union. After conducting a study on Brexit and languages, APPG states a lack of language ability loses the U.K. an estimated 3.5% of economic performance. Britain currently relies on EU nationals to negotiate trade deals in other languages, but this will no longer be possible once the U.K. has left the Union. In particular, APPG fears the loss of European language skills if EU nationals already living in the U.K. are not guaranteed residency status post-Brexit. "Britain must make the U.K.'s language skills a top policy issue," says APPG Co-chair Baroness Coussins. "Language skills are vital for our exports, education, public services, and diplomacy." Coussins calls for a national plan to ensure that the U.K. produces the linguists it needs to become "a world leader in global free trade on the international stage." APPG says the country needs to boost skills in both European and non-European languages for the purposes of trade, international relations, and security. The group says the solution lies in education. Britain must continue to work on education reforms, including establishing a national plan to increase language education from primary school to the post-graduate level as a means of recruiting more language teachers. As part of these reforms, APPG wants the U.K. to continue full participation in the Erasmus+ program, where young people study, do volunteer work, and train abroad in Europe, with some working as language assistants in schools. "It is essential that schools continue to be able to recruit EU nationals post-Brexit," says Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. "There is already a critical shortage of language teachers, and the last thing we need is anything which makes this situation worse," he says. "We understand that Brexit means Brexit, but it is vital that it does not also mean a full-blown crisis in language teaching."
Federal Rules Expected to Expand Health Care Language Services
Stateline (DC) (10/12/16) Ollove, Michael
New federal rules are being put in place that require thousands of U.S. hospitals, doctors, and dentists to provide free language services for non-English-speaking patients to avoid errors with harmful, even fatal, consequences. The new rules, which apply to providers who receive Medicaid reimbursement or other federal funds, are expected to expand access to preventive care and reduce medical costs, at least in the long run. The rules, as stipulated by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, say providers must post notices telling patients and their families that language services are available. In addition, websites and other written material must be translated into the 15 most frequently spoken non-English languages in the state. The rules also state providers have to offer interpreting services during direct encounters, as well as translations of vital written communications. In addition, interpreters are required to be trained in medical terminology and ethics. Family members or friends may not substitute for a trained interpreter unless requested by the patient, and bilingual staff members can only interpret in an emergency. "Language services are going to keep people healthier, and that will end up saving health care dollars down the road," says Cary Sanders of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. "It's a small investment for a big return." However, some struggling rural hospitals and smaller medical and dental practices are worried about the cost of following the new rules. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American Medical Association argued that, "the financial burden of medical interpretive services and translation should not fall on physician practices." The AMA suggests that insurance plans should be required to cover those services. An August 2016 article in Health Affairs estimated that 25% of hospitals with the greatest need for language services lacked the systematic provision of such services. The article also stated that nearly 33% of all U.S. hospitals offer no language services. Meanwhile, a 2012 study found serious medical errors were less likely to happen with professional health care interpreters than with interpreters who lack special training, or when no interpreters are used. "The services are definitely not matching the need," says Melody Schiaffino, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University and one of the coauthors of the Health Affairs article. Marina Hadjioannou Waters, a vice-president of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, which advocates for greater availability of interpreting and translation services for non-English speakers, agrees. "If someone can't understand what their doctor says or what they are signing in a consent form, that is not considered equal access to health care."
Text-to-911 Translation a Major Hurdle for Florida County
Sun-Sentinel (FL) (10/15/16) Howard, Samuel
The deployment of text-to-911 service in Palm Beach County, Florida, has proven problematic for county officials as they try to find how to best serve communities that speak languages other than English. Palm Beach County 911 Planning Coordinator Daniel Koenig says this segment of residents could benefit the most from text-to-911. "Their go-to may be text because they encounter such a hard time with language translation every day," he says. But translating those text messages for dispatchers poses a technological challenge that Koenig and other officials say needs to be addressed. Brett Bayag, acting director of the Office of Regional Communications and Technology in Broward County, says some U.S. call centers employ computer-based tools to work with foreign-language texts. However, Bayag and others think such tools could be unreliable in South Florida. Palm Beach County NextGen 911 Program Manager Chuck Spalding says the county's 911 dispatchers can hear up to 20 different spoken languages in a given month. Palm Beach County currently has a contractor in Portland, Oregon, to manage 911 call translations. When needed, local dispatchers will conference in a translator to assist with the call. Koenig says a largely English-only text-to-911 system in South Florida would be a disservice to many residents. Spalding says once the language issue has been resolved, a text-to-911 service for Palm Beach County should soon follow. "We wanted to make sure there were some other deployments [and] people worked the bugs out of it, so we feel pretty confident now."
California Ballot Measure Would Expand Bilingual Education
New York Times (NY) (10/17/16) Medina, Jennifer
In 1988, voters in California passed a law that severely restricted bilingual education in public schools, arguing that students were "languishing" in their native language and that requiring English-only instruction would enable students to learn English more quickly. Voters are now being asked to overturn the measure in November, allowing school districts to implement more programs where students often learn in their native language. The initiative is yet another test of how California's attitude toward immigrants has changed over the past two decades. "This is long overdue in a place as global as California, where we really need a multilingual society," says Ricardo Lara, a state senator who sponsored the legislation to put the measure on the ballot. The Language Education, Acquisition, and Readiness Now (Learn) ballot measure is supported by the state's teachers' union, school boards association, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Many Democratic elected officials, including Governor Jerry Brown, have also voiced support. Under the current law, students who do not speak English must spend one year in an English-only classroom before moving to mainstream classes in English at their grade level. Parents seeking other options must sign a waiver to allow their children to participate in programs that also use instruction in their native language. Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, executive director of Californians Together, a group that favors the ballot measure, says the waiver required for parents to enroll their children in bilingual programs has had a "chilling" effect. She feels more parents would be inclined to have their children in bilingual programs if they were more widely available. Spiegel-Coleman describes the type of education the state currently offers as "a one-size-fits-all program" for all students learning English. "What we want is for individual schools to be able to decide what they think is best for the students, whether that's dual language or some other way," she says. "A student's native language does not have to be sacrificed in order to learn English. Our whole perspective has changed."
ATA Webinar: From Classroom to a Career in Translation
It's never too early for students to start asking questions and planning their first steps after graduation. Do you need a website? How do you find clients? What is the value of your degree? Can you really make it as a freelancer? What services should you offer? Presenter Jamie Hartz will lead webinar attendees through her first two years as a freelance translator with answers to these questions and more. Register now!
Going to the ATA Annual Conference?
In addition to all the educational sessions, ATA57 offers an enormous variety of networking events throughout the conference. Here are three events not to be missed!
Agency reps will host tables and post their current and ongoing needs at this two-hour recruitment event. Click here to see which agencies will be there and who they are hoping to recruit. Thursday 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Meet up to tweet up!
If you love to tweet, join your fellow Twitter-lovers to turn this social medium into a social event. A table at the general continental breakfast will be reserved for this meeting of tweeters. Friday 7:30am – 8:30am
Work in small teams to tackle common business-related challenges, while making new friends and creating new partnerships. Friday 6:00pm – 7:00pm
To look over the conference schedule for all the ways to meet people, reunite with friends, and get involved in your association, click the "more" link below.
ATA Board of Directors Meeting
The quarterly meeting of the ATA Board of Directors will take place during the ATA Annual Conference in San Francisco. The meeting runs from Saturday (1:00pm - 4:30pm) to Sunday (8:30am - 10:30am). ATA members are always encouraged to attend. So, if you're at the Conference, take a minute to check out how the Board works. The meeting agenda is online.
Interpreting: Getting It Right Now in Brazilian Portuguese
Interpreting: Getting It Right is now available in Brazilian Portuguese! If you aren't familiar with the Getting It Right publications, you are missing out on a great way to tell clients about the value of professional translation and interpreting services. Easy-to-read and just-right information—they are perfect for clients who want to spend their budgets wisely. Look for Translation: Getting It Right and Interpreting: Getting It Right in other languages on the ATA website.
Coming up in the November/December Issue of The ATA Chronicle
The New England Translators Association’s 20th Annual Conference: Successful Collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Boston
Whatever the specific theme of a conference or event, all participants stand to benefit from a collaborative approach. (Diego Mansilla)
The Connected Interpreter: Integrating Interpreting and Translation into Medical Missions
Despite all the money being spent to design and implement sophisticated relief programs, usually little thought is given to addressing the inevitable challenges to be faced when trying to communicate important information to non-English-speaking individuals. (Katharine Allen, Julie Burns)
Breaking Silence: What Interpreters Need to Know About Victim Services Interpreting
A new training program for victim services interpreting provides valuable lessons about the specific challenges facing interpreters for crime and trauma survivors. (Marjory Bancroft)
Some Fundamentals of Project Management
The consultative approach to project management has long-term benefits, not only for specific clients, but for the profession as a whole. (Alaina Brantner)
Access to The ATA Chronicle's searchable archives is available online! And don't forget to check out the latest issue of the Chronicle Online.
ATA 57th Annual Conference Sponsor
ATA wishes to thank and recognize Platinum Sponsor SDL PLC for its generous contribution to the ATA's 57th Annual Conference.
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