Newsbriefs: April 20, 2021

Hunter Master of Arts in Translation and Interpreting

The ATA Podcast: Inside Specialization

Welcome to “Inside Specialization,” a new series on specialization and diversification developed in collaboration with ATA’s Professional Development Committee!

We hope you’ll follow the series as members of the committee explore the “what, why, and how” of various specializations in one-on-one interviews with those working in translation and interpreting careers. Along the way, you’ll hear from terminology specialists, health care interpreters, patent translators, localization experts, and more. They’ll talk about what their work entails, the pros and cons of their specialty, the skills that are needed, and their personal stories and recommendations for getting started. This will be an adventure you won’t want to miss!

We’re kicking off Inside Specialization with a spotlight on court interpreting. In this episode, Professional Development Committee Chair Veronika Demichelis sat down with Judy Jenner, an ATA spokesperson and federally certified Spanish interpreter, to find out what it’s like to be a court interpreter—from her typical day to why she made this career choice.

What is The ATA Podcast?
Each month on The ATA Podcast, Host Matt Baird brings you news and insights from the association. Matt tackles anything and everything happening in ATA, speaking with board members, committee chairs, volunteers, and industry experts. It’s a quick and easy way to learn what the association is doing for members, where the T&I industry is headed, and how to take advantage of benefits and upcoming events. Look for current and past episodes of The ATA Podcast on the association’s website.

How to Subscribe to The ATA Podcast
Get new episodes of The ATA Podcast as soon as they’re released! Just look for ATA on the podcast app of your choice and choose to follow or subscribe!

NETA 25th Annual Conference

Industry News

Virginia First State to Offer ASL Video Chats for COVID-19 Call Center

WTOP (DC) (04/08/21) King, Kristi

Virginia has become the first state to provide real-time video chat access to its COVID-19 information call center for users of American Sign Language (ASL).

The mission of the Vaccine Call Center for American Sign Language Support, a face-to-face service for the deaf and hard of hearing, is to provide equal access to state assistance in a format more likely to offer clear information that’s less susceptible to miscommunication.

“ASL and English are different,” Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Director Eric Raff said. “For many interpreters, ASL isn’t their first language, so they miss cues.” Raff explained that ASL includes facial expressions, so “sometimes an eyebrow movement can indicate a question, for example, but it’s part of the grammar.”

Video chat agents at the center communicate directly with people who call in, so there is no need for an additional person to serve as a “go-between” and type translations on either end of the call. Raff said this process will save time.

ASL users have two ways to connect: by videophone at 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682) or by clicking the “ASL Now” button at The service is available daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.

Virginia’s partner in launching the service is Connect Direct, a subsidiary of the nonprofit Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD).

“Connect Direct applauds Virginia for its dedication to its ASL-using residents,” said Craig Radford, vice president of strategy and business development at CSD. “Many state services, including health services, are often inaccessible to deaf ASL users. We encourage more state governments to follow Virginia’s lead.”

Raff said he is excited that the Virginia Department of Health is willing to take advantage of an opportunity to provide equal access.

“We wanted the same thing and had the same goal,” Raff said. “Their goal is to provide vaccination information to the citizens of Virginia, and our goal is to provide communication access. We’re really excited to be the first state in the country to do this.”

District of Columbia Says Long-Awaited Translations of Vaccine Website Coming this Month

The Washington Post (DC) (04/09/21) Zauzmer, Julie

The District of Columbia Department of Health said it would publish translated versions of the city’s coronavirus vaccine registration website as soon as possible. The announcement came after immigrant advocacy groups accused the city of violating the DC Language Access Act of 2004 by providing insufficient access in languages other than English.

The Language Access Act requires agencies to “translate vital documents” into languages frequently spoken in the city, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, French, and Amharic.

Advocates argued that earlier efforts by the District to make the website accessible to non-English speakers—including using Google Translate, not professional translators—did not meet the standards set forth in the Language Access Act.

“I think DC is not following the law here,” said Kathy Zeisel, an attorney at the Children’s Law Center, one of many city organizations involved in enforcing the Language Access Act. Those organizations sent a joint letter to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asking for better translations.

“It’s especially concerning because we know that immigrants in DC have really been disproportionately affected by coronavirus cases and deaths,” Zeisel said.

Her nonprofit law firm, which represents children as well as their guardians, sent a message in Spanish to its adult clients informing them about vaccines. “Many wrote back saying they wanted a shot but couldn’t navigate the city’s website to register for one,” Zeisel said.

Laura Camarata, a law firm employee who speaks Spanish, called those clients and completed the forms for them so they could get vaccinated, Zeisel said.

Advocates said the Google Translate option on the registration form caused several problems for non-English speakers. Error messages popped up in English, not Spanish, for example, and the phrase “Book your appointment” used the Spanish word for a physical book, not the word for schedule.

Similar problems have occurred in other jurisdictions. In Maryland, the state’s Spanish-language vaccine registration page initially used the word for car race in the section that asked people for their race, sex, and ethnicity. Because of a Google Translate error, the Virginia Department of Health’s online Spanish-language FAQ at one point stated that vaccinations were not necessary—when officials meant to say that no one would be forced to get a shot.

In the District, language issues go beyond the registration website. Camarata said that although she indicated on the form that each of the patients she helped would prefer responses from the city in Spanish, four out of five people she recently signed up received emails or calls from the city offering them appointments in English.

“One woman called saying, ‘I think I got a phone call from them, but it’s in English. I have no idea what it’s saying,'” Camarata said.

When Camarata went to get her own shot at a DC recreation center, she found herself acting as an impromptu interpreter for other patients who wanted to ask the pharmacist if their medications could cause any unsafe interactions with the vaccination.

DC vaccination site workers have access to a telephone interpreting service, though some advocates have said these sites don’t offer this option to patrons or make clear that it’s available.

Latinos in general, and the District’s Spanish-speaking community, have been hit hard by the virus. As of April 2, just under 20% of all DC’s reported cases involved Hispanic residents, who make up 11% of the city’s population.

Federal Bill Seeks to Preserve Native American Languages

The Durango Herald (CO) (04/08/21) Mullane, Shannon

Local educators in Alaska hope a federal bill focused on Native American languages will enhance local Ute language education efforts.

The bill, which would establish Native American language resource centers across the country, was introduced in response to concerns that tribal languages nationwide are fading. The bill is in the early stages of the congressional process, but if passed, locals hope some of those resources could reach La Plata County, Alaska, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

“You have to keep the language alive. Once the language dies, the culture will die as well,” said Ignacio School District (Alaska) Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto. “I’m a Spanish teacher, and to understand how important language is in any culture, you have to keep the language going.”

According to a news release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the bipartisan legislation seeks to bolster Native American language schools and programs with coordinated, experienced support. It would create institutions, housed throughout the country, that offer resource support for Native language students at all levels of learning and for schools and programs teaching Native languages. It would also provide resources to enhance distance learning capacity.

“The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has not had the opportunity to thoroughly review this bill,” said Lindsay Box, a tribal government spokesperson. “However, the tribe does support any effort and funding aimed to preserve and revitalize Indigenous languages, and specifically the Ute language, in a manner which is consistent with tribal sovereignty.”

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has long prioritized helping tribal members improve their Ute language abilities, providing community classes for learners, teaching the language in the tribe’s Montessori academy, and partnering with the Ignacio School District to continue Ute language education.

Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii introduced the bill in the Senate, while Representative Don Young of Alaska introduced the House version of the bill.

Linguistic resources are a big issue in Alaska, where 20 Native languages are spoken, Representative Young said. In 2008, the last speaker of the Eyak language died, and in 2018, Alaska declared a linguistic emergency in the state, he said in the release.

“Too many languages spoken by Indigenous people in Alaska and across the country face the threat of being forgotten, and that must not happen,” Representative Young said.

Researchers Work to Develop a Multilingual Search Engine for Low-Resource Languages

BBC (United Kingdom) (03/22/21) Hardach, Sophie

Google Translate currently offers the ability to communicate in around 110 languages while Microsoft’s Bing Translator offers around 70 languages. Yet there are more than 7,000 spoken languages around the world, and at least 4,000 with a writing system. That language barrier can pose a problem for anyone who needs to gather precise, global information in a hurry—including intelligence agencies.

To break that barrier, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an organization within the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is funding research by various teams to develop a multilingual search engine capable of finding, translating, and summarizing information from any low-resource language, whether it’s in text or speech.

“I would say the more interested an individual is in understanding the world, the more one must be able to access data that are not in English,” says Carl Rubino, a program manager at IARPA. “Many challenges we face today, such as economic and political instability, the pandemic, and climate change, transcend our planet, and, thus, are multilingual in nature.”

Training a human translator or intelligence analyst in a new language can take years. Even then, it may not be enough for the task at hand. “In Nigeria, for instance, there are over 500 languages spoken,” Rubino said. “Even our most world-renowned experts in that country may understand just a small fraction of those.”

To tackle the problem, the research teams are using neural network technology, a form of artificial intelligence that mimics some aspects of human thinking. Neural network models have revolutionized language processing in recent years. Instead of just memorizing words and sentences, they can learn their meaning. They can work out from the context that words like “dog,” “poodle,” and the French “chien” all express similar concepts even if they look very different on the surface.

To do this, however, the algorithms that power these models have to learn a language using preexisting human translations found online—ideally, millions of words of translated text. No such data mountain exists for languages that may be widely spoken but not as prolifically translated. The challenge is to get the models to learn from smaller amounts of data.

To solve this challenge, each research team is divided into smaller specialist groups, each devoted to solving one aspect of the search engine’s construction. The main components are automatic search, speech recognition, translation, and text summarization technologies, all adapted to low-resource languages. Since the four-year project began in 2017, the teams have worked on eight languages, including Swahili, Tagalog, Somali, and Kazakh.

The teams have all managed to produce basic versions of the multilingual search engine, refining it with each new language. Rubino believes such technologies could change how intelligence is gathered. “We will indeed have the opportunity to revolutionize the way our analysts learn from language data, allowing monolingual English-speaking analysts access to multilingual data they previously were not able to work with.”

Kathleen McKeown, a computer scientist at Columbia University who leads one of the research teams, said the benefits of the system will extend beyond the intelligence community. “The ultimate goal is to facilitate more interaction between, and more information about, people from different cultures.”

2021 International Booker Prize Longlist Announced

Book Riot (NY) (03/30/21) Alquist, Pierce

Honoring translated fiction from around the world, the International Booker Prize has announced its 2021 longlist.

The prize is awarded every year to a single book translated into English and published in the U.K. and Ireland. It aims to encourage more publishing and reading of international fiction from all over the world and to promote and recognize the work of translators. The £50,000 prize is split between the winning author and translator. The shortlist will be announced April 22 and the winner will be announced June 2 in a virtual ceremony.

This year’s longlist—which includes books from 11 languages and 12 countries—is dominated by writers and translators new to the prize, with only translator Megan McDowell and author Can Xue having been longlisted in previous years. And for the first time, the longlist includes a book translated by its author, The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. This year the judges considered 125 books.

“In a year when we could scarcely leave our own houses, we judges have been crossing continents, transported by our reading,” said Lucy Hughes-Hallett, chair of the judges. “Thanks to those remarkable books, and to their translators, we’ve been freed to explore the world. We hope this prize will inspire many more readers to follow us.”

ATA News

Next ATA Board of Directors Meeting Online

The ATA Board of Directors will meet online April 24-25. Click here to read the Board meeting agenda.

All ATA members are invited to attend. To request a Zoom join invitation, email your name and membership number to with Request to Attend the ATA Board Meeting in the subject line.

ATA Workshop: Consecutive Note-Taking

Presenter: Andy Gillies
Date: May 13, 2021
Time: 9:00 a.m. U.S. EDT
Duration: 4 hours
Language: English
Level: Advanced Only
CE Points: ATA-approved 4 CEPs, CCHI 4 hours

This interactive workshop will include a presentation of the main elements of a note-taking system for long consecutive interpreting followed by one-on-one practice. There will be two, two-hour sessions with a one-hour break in between.

Come prepared to participate!
Attendees will be expected to actively participate in practice sessions encompassing the techniques introduced during the workshop.

This webinar was organized with the assistance of ATA’s Interpreters Division.

What will you learn?
  1. Review and practice of a complete note-taking system
  2. How structure in notes can be used to present meaning
  3. How to use notes to improve delivery
  4. How to use symbols in notes effectively
  5. How to note less and remember more
Register now! ATA Member $180 | Non-Member $240

This workshop is limited to 14 advanced-level interpreters. Credentialed interpreters will receive priority. Confirmation of payment does not guarantee you a seat as we will vet all attendees for credentials and/or experience before finalizing a registration and issue refunds for those who are not selected to attend. We will maintain a waitlist once we reach 14 attendees.

AFTI Scholarships for the ATA Annual Conference

To help defray the costs of attending the ATA62 Annual Conference in person (Minneapolis, October 27-30), the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation (AFTI) is offering a limited number of $500 scholarships to students and recent graduates of translation or interpreting studies and related fields. The program must be leading to an academic degree or certificate.

To be eligible, individuals must have never attended an ATA Annual Conference in person; attendees of the ATA61 virtual conference are eligible to apply. Applicants must also not be previous AFTI scholarship winners, with the exception of those who received scholarships to attend the ATA61 virtual conference.

Recent graduates must have completed their program within 12 months of the start date of the ATA62 Annual Conference (October 27-30, 2021).

How to Apply
You’ll find all the details and the application form on the AFTI website. The deadline to apply is July 31.

Last Call: Language Services from a Gender Perspective

Presenter: Mariana Favila Alcalá
Date: April 21
Time: 12 noon U.S. EDT
Duration: 1 hour
Language: Spanish
Level: All
CE Points: 1 ATA-approved

Presented in Spanish.

If a client asked you to provide translation or interpreting services that use inclusive language, could you do it? Attend this webinar to learn some of the theoretical and practical tools that can assist in word choices when working to incorporate gender-inclusive language reform in your translation.

This webinar was organized with the assistance of ATA’s Spanish Language Division.

What will you learn?
  1. Why inclusive language reforms and practices are not a new trend
  2. What role language providers play in creating fairer societies
  3. Theoretical and practical tools that will allow you to make word choices
  4. Ways to use inclusive language in your translations
Register now! ATA Member $45 Non-Member $60
Middlebury Institute of International Studies

Back to Business Basics Webinar: Specialization

Presenter: Karen Tkaczyk, Ben Karl
Date: May 4, 2021
Time: 12 noon U.S. EDT
Duration: 45 minutes
Language: English
Level: All
CE Points: None

For some translators and interpreters, specialization comes naturally: a prior career or a lifelong interest. For others, the road to specialization has more twists and turns. This webinar will discuss how to build a specialization once you have identified it, how to market it, and how to embark on your own journey to build expertise in your desired field.

Click to learn more and register. Space is limited.

What is ATA’s Back to Business Basics Webinar Series?
Sometimes it’s the simple things that trip you up or hold you back in business. That’s the point behind ATA’s Back to Business Basics webinars—a series of 45-minute webinars offering practical advice on common translation and interpreting business problems.

Where Can I Find the Back to Business Basics Webinars On Demand?
ATA members will find the entire library of Back to Business Basics webinars on demand for free on the ATA website. These webinars are short and easy to pause and come back to later if you get interrupted. So, bookmark this link and make a plan to check out the series whenever you have a little time between projects.

Latest Issue of Translatio

The latest edition of Translatio, the quarterly newsletter of the International Federation of Translators (FIT), is available for download from FIT’s website.

This issue offers details of FIT Europe’s #GettingYouUnderstood campaign, an announcement of a new website and forum for the Société Française des Traducteurs, and news of the Brazilian Association of Translators and Interpreters (ABRATES) new online certification exam. Also you’ll find a lookback on ATA’s International Translation Day 2020 video How Your Smartphone was Made Thanks to Translators and Interpreters.

And there’s more. Be sure to check out the 2021 first quarter edition of Translatio.

Advocacy in Pennsylvania

When their negotiations with the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) regarding the compensation schedule came to a halt, interpreters organized the Tri-State Language Access Coalition (TSLAC). The message? It is not okay to cut pay for remote interpreting by 50 percent.

TSLAC is a professional organization formed to represent interpreters, translators, and other professional language services providers in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.

ATA has sent a letter to AOPC supporting TSLAC, outlining the reasons remote interpreting is not cheaper, despite appearances, and not cost-effective for the courts in the long run. The letter warns the courts that setting the compensation for delivering remote interpreting services below fair market value is likely to result in non-professional, less qualified interpreters working in the system. The result will put reliable language access in danger and expose the state’s judiciary to lapses in quality control, violations of due process, and avoidable appeals.

Read ATA’s letter to AOPC in support of TSLAC now.

TSLAC is now working to gain the support of other interpreters and translators working as legal interpreters and translators across the country. Check out the organization’s Facebook page for details.

ATA61 Virtual Conference On Demand

On demand, when you want it, where you want it—the ATA61 Annual Virtual Conference recordings offer you 118 hours of continuing education at your convenience. Available for purchase!

You’ll find sessions for both translators and interpreters covering a range of topics in finance, law, medicine, science, technology, and more.

Advanced Skills and Training (AST) Day sessions are also available for on-demand viewing. Each three-hour AST Course was specifically chosen to provide intensive, interactive instruction from highly-acclaimed speakers.

Professional development is a great way to show clients you’re on top of your game. And the ATA61 Virtual Conference is your opportunity to do just that. Look for details here.

Reminder: If you attended the ATA61 Virtual Conference, then the on-demand recordings are already yours! Watch your email for new instructions on how to access the sessions through the ATA website. The conference portal will close May 1.

It’s not too soon to start planning for ATA62 in Minneapolis.

Whether you attend in person or virtually, you’ll find the education you’ll want to get ahead, the connections you’ll depend on to grow your referrals, and the strategies you’ll need to stay competitive.

What will ATA62 look like?
  • Conference Sessions: More than 12O, in person and virtually
  • Advanced Skills and Training Day: Interactive, in-depth three-hour courses
  • Speakers: Selected through a competitive peer-review process
  • Continuing Education: Up to 10 continuing education points for ATA-certified translators

Book Your Hotel
Discounted rates at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis will be available through October 1, or as space allows. Check out the hotel and book here.

And there’s more!
Head to the ATA62 Annual Conference website for details. Plus be sure to follow #ata62 on social media for updates as they become available.

Your Ad Could Be Here!

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So, build your brand, reach the right audience—advertise in ATA Newsbriefs!

In the March/April Issue of The ATA Chronicle

ATA Joins Forces with the Association of Language Companies to Bridge the Education/Career Gap
Language services companies increasingly need qualified talent to fill positions in translation, interpreting, localization, language instruction, testing, and more. Unfortunately, too few language majors enter the marketplace with real-world skills. The ALC Bridge project came into being to close the gap between the needs of academic institutions that are looking for job opportunities for their language students, and the business world, which is seeking students who are well prepared for careers in the language services industry. (Caitilin Walsh)

ATA’s New Mastermind Program for Members: What Is It and Who Can Benefit
Do your fellow ATA members know business practices, resources, and techniques you would never hear about in a class or webinar? ATA’s Mastermind Program may just change that! (Tess Whitty and Dorothee Racette)

Terms and Conditions of Service: The Key to Future-Proofing and Protecting Your Translation Business
From the buyer’s side, I can’t imagine working with a professional who doesn’t put their promise in writing. From the translator’s side, I can’t imagine doing business without protecting my interests. A well-drafted contract is such a win for both sides in any line of business that the thought of doing business without one is, to me, simply inconceivable. (Paula Arturo)

How to Build Resourcefulness as a Freelancing Parent
Freelancing parents constantly face multiple challenges, especially during the current pandemic. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for success, there are a few simple steps you can take to transition smoothly into the life of a freelancing parent. (Dorota Pawlak)

Translating Humor Is a Serious Business
Puns, regionalisms, wordplay, and cultural references can make the literal translation of humor a joke in itself, not to mention a seemingly impossible challenge for the translator! (Marina Ilari)

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.

News summaries © copyright 2021 SmithBucklin

April 20, 2021

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In This Issue

Inside Specialization
Next ATA Board Meeting
Workshop: Note-Taking
AFTI Conference Scholarships
Webinar: Gender Perspectives
Webinar: Business Basics
Latest Issue of Translatio
Advocacy in Pennsylvania
ATA61 Virtual Conference
Advertise in Newsbriefs
The ATA Chronicle

ATA Members Only

Free ATA Webinar!
Translating for the Pharmaceutical Industry: Resources and Translation Strategies

ATA Webinar Series

Gender Perspectives
April 21
12:00 noon EDT
Registration open

Consecutive Note-Taking Workshop
May 13
9:00 a.m. EDT
Register now

Back to Business Basics

Choosing and Building a Specialization
May 4, 23021
12 noon EDT
Free! Register now!

Best Business Practices

Should I Market My Translation or Interpreting Services on Social Media?

Calendar of Events

Next ATA Board of Directors Meeting
April 24-25, 2021
Read the agenda now!

ATA62 Annual Conference
Minneapolis, Minnesota
October 27-30, 2021
Check out the website!

Jetstar Express Interpreter Translator Job Opening The ATA Chronicle March/April 2021
The ATA Chronicle March/April 2021
ATA School Outreach Program Alliant Professional Liability Insurance