ATA61 Annual Conference Registration Open
Now more than ever, translators, interpreters, and company owners need to come together to focus on the future. The ATA61 Conference is the place to do it. Register today!
5 Things You Should Know About ATA61
ATA61 Conference Quick Clicks
If you’re not an ATA member, this is the perfect time to join and save with the member registration discount. Click here for details!
The National Association of the Deaf and a group of deaf individuals are suing the White House in an attempt to force U.S. President Donald Trump and other top officials to have American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters at all public COVID-19 briefings.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia at the end of July, the White House’s “failure to provide ASL interpreters during COVID-19 related briefings, including press briefings, is against the law.” The lawsuit also alleges that the lack of live sign language interpreting violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Prior to the lawsuit, the U.S. National Council on Disability and some members of Congress had already written to the White House requesting the addition of ASL interpreters. In the lawsuit, the National Association of the Deaf argues that the captions carried on video during briefings lack details that would be conveyed by a sign language interpreter.
“Tone is often lost in written captions. By contrast, an interpreter is able to convey the tone and context of a message through facial expressions, sign choice, and demeanor,” the lawsuit states. “Further, the provision of live closed captioning frequently contains errors and omissions that make it difficult or impossible for deaf and hard of hearing individuals to understand the information being provided in the briefings, particularly if they are not fluent in English.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have stated that they want “information on how to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as how to take care of family, friends, and loved ones.” They also want to be able to follow developments about a potential vaccine and the pandemic’s economic impact.
The lawsuit points out how all 50 state governors, as well as leaders in several cities and in more than 50 countries have used live ASL interpreters at COVID-19 news conferences.
“President Trump now stands alone in holding televised briefings regarding the COVID-19 pandemic without ever having provided any ASL interpreting,” the lawsuit states. “This means that not only are [deaf and hard of hearing] Americans being denied the opportunity to understand any communication from the president of the United States during this critical time, but they are also being denied the opportunity to access information, analysis, and updates from renowned public health experts.”
A joint letter to the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government warns that a lack of translated coronavirus guidance is jeopardizing the safety of non-English speakers in Britain.
In their letter, around 30 local authorities, public health leaders, and charities urge the government to produce and continue to update information in more languages.
The U.K. government said it has translated public health information into 25 languages reaching a wide audience and is “committed to ensuring people across the U.K. receive the information they need to stay safe” during the pandemic. However, the letter states this information appears in a “limited range of languages” and that translations can take weeks to be updated when advice or rules change.
According to the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, more than four million people in England and Wales do not consider English their main language, including more than 860,000 people who speak little or no English. In England and Wales, 88 non-English languages are spoken as a main language. A government spokesperson said that although it “wouldn’t be feasible” to provide translations of all of these languages, the government had translated some of its “key messages on coronavirus into the most common languages spoken in the country.”
The authors of the letter state that many of these translations have become obsolete as guidelines have been updated. For example, in March the government released guidance on social distancing in 11 languages, including Welsh, Urdu, Arabic, and Bengali. But this advice was withdrawn in May when the guidance changed. The current social distancing guidelines for England, along with information on the Nation Health Service Test and Trace program and the rules for wearing face coverings, have still not been translated.
Doctors of the World, which coordinated the letter, runs clinics in London that provide medical care and information for “excluded people” such as non-English-speaking migrants, asylum seekers, sex workers, homeless people, and those with low literacy levels. According to the charity, it has translated coronavirus guidance into documents, audio guides, and videos in more than 60 languages because the government “has completely forgotten and left out this patient group who are at increased risk of catching the virus and are unable to protect themselves and their families.”
Anna Miller, head of policy and advocacy for Doctors of the World, said there had been “no engagement” from Public Health England or the Department of Health. Miller said her organization did not receive a response after reaching out to the government prior to the quarantine in March to ask what resources might be provided for non-English speakers.
“It’s just been an absolute lack of communication, or refusal to communicate, from central government, which has meant we’ve had to get on and do the translations as if the government doesn’t exist,” Miller said. “Ensuring public health information gets to everybody should have been the most basic, first thing in the government response. And ‘everybody’ includes people who don’t speak English.”
Local authorities provide translations of some of their own guidance. But Miller said several authorities informed Doctors of the World that they “can’t keep up with the rapid changes of guidance,” leading to inconsistent and outdated information.
The letter urges the central government to lead in maintaining the “quality and consistency” of public health messages. It further states that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has a “statutory duty” to provide translated resources. “As lockdown measures are eased and guidance changes regularly, it is not sustainable or practical for local authorities and civil society to meet this need,” the letter states.
An immigrant advocacy organization wants to know why it has taken the East Hampton Town Police Department (EHTPD) in New York nearly four years to approve cell phones in patrol cars that would allow access to immediate, live interpreting for non-English proficient residents and visitors.
Minerva Perez, executive director of the Organización Latino-Americana (OLA) of Eastern Long Island, said she started meeting with law enforcement leaders in 2016 to better understand how documented and undocumented residents would have access to “protection and safety” when they were victims of or witnesses to a crime. Police chiefs and officers told her it was highly unlikely an officer responding to a call where the victim or witness was not proficient in English would be able to communicate fully at the site of the incident.
During these meetings Perez learned that a live interpreting service used by hospitals and other police departments was also being used in the police dispatch center for all 911 calls and was accessible to officers, provided they had a cell phone to call the number. Yet officers were not provided with cell phones and were not allowed to use their personal phones for police business.
Perez said OLA initiated discussions with Southampton and East Hampton police departments, offering to pay for cell phones to be placed in each patrol car to help officers communicate with those connected with an incident. Within two years, the Southampton Town Police Department accepted OLA’s offer to cover the costs of 15 iPhones to access the interpreting service. But Perez wants to know why EHTPD Chief Michael Sarlo has not responded in almost four years, when he told her he considered the idea doable.
“While he has never said ‘no,’ repeated requests to move this very simple solution into practice have led to nothing,” Perez said. “The fact that every day officers have to face uncertainty and danger and are not afforded this basic communication tool that could develop the very trust we need in this small community remains startling to me.”
Sarlo said he sent OLA’s request to the East Hampton town board. “Yes, it could work and be helpful, but we were concerned about some issues with discovery, as well as changes to the admissibility of the transcripts of interpreted calls in court proceedings.”
Perez is “acutely aware” of the critical role law enforcement plays in linking victims of domestic violence to safety. “Trust and communication save lives, including officers’ lives,” she said. “East End communities need officers to be fully equipped to do so and not remain stuck in frustrating conversations full of misunderstandings that can lead to inaccurate police reports and faulty handling of situations at the scene.”
More than two dozen nonprofits and immigrant advocates say Hawaii’s unemployment office is violating state and federal law by not providing interpreting services to help laid-off workers who don’t speak English access unemployment benefits.
A letter signed by Corey Park, president of The Legal Clinic, a nonprofit serving low-income immigrants in Hawaii, was sent on behalf of 32 organizations and immigrant advocates, including immigration attorneys, the American Civil Liberties Union, Catholic Charities Hawaii, Unite Here Local 5, and We Are Oceania.
The business shutdowns intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus have led to widespread unemployment in Hawaii. The state’s unemployment agency has been overwhelmed with a deluge of applications that crashed the agency’s online application process, forced the agency to create a temporary workaround, and continues to frustrate thousands of people who lost their jobs.
“We know that the unemployment department is under a lot of pressure and there are a lot of people who are suffering now with the pandemic,” Park said. “But the immigrant community, and in particular the limited-English-proficient community, is worse off because they can’t even get meaningful access to the unemployment system.” Park added that the state “is definitely not in compliance with the law” and that the organizations and individuals mentioned in the letter want to help the state fix that.
The letter states that the unemployment office has persistently failed people who speak limited English, “despite clear guidance and an abundance of existing language access resources” at the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The letter states that the unemployment office is violating not only the state language access law but also Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Social Security Act.
Bill Kunstman, a spokesperson for the unemployment office, said the agency is open to providing better service to non-English speakers. Kuntsman said the agency made an effort years ago to collaborate with community groups to provide language access to comply with federal funding requirements. “Meeting with those community groups was something that I guess fell by the wayside, that hasn’t been happening over the last few years,” he said. Now the state is “looking to pursue that as a way to help the situation.”
Tatjana Johnson, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, said fixing the problem is a moral issue. “Public health is certainly a reason to stop the economy, but if you’re going to do that you have to provide a means for people to provide food, shelter, and basic necessities and they just aren’t,” she said of the state.
Johnson noted that her clients are experiencing the same problems they did in March. The new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is even worse, she said, because there is no number to call and some of her clients who called the unemployment office to request interpreting services were told to contact the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. “At this point it’s just, to me, gross incompetence on behalf of the state,” she said.
ATA Podcast: Halftime Show
California Assembly Bill 5 and job loss. COVID-19 and economic crisis. Travel bans and everything going virtual. Few of us could have imagined a year like this one. So, how has ATA responded? And is there anything you may have missed along the way? Find out as ATA Podcast Host Matt Baird interviews President Ted Wozniak and President-Elect Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo for our 2020 Halftime Show.
What is The ATA Podcast?
How to Subscribe
Be Sure to Leave a Comment
California AB 2257 Update
California AB 2257 will be heard by the state’s influential Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday, August 17. This is the last chance for the bill to be amended to exempt “professional translators and interpreters” from AB 5. ATA has sent an Open Letter to the California Assembly and Senate to the legislature and the committee’s members. Read the letter and watch for follow-up details in ATA Newsbriefs.
Back to School with ATA Webinars
Check out these upcoming ATA webinars for great continuing education opportunities. And remember, ATA members save 25% on webinar registration!
The Remote Interpreter’s Companion
Scribbling on a piece of paper is so 2019. Especially in times like these, technology can help us break down walls with collaboration tools—particularly during distance interpreting. Join Presenters Alexander Drechsel and Josh Goldsmith of techforward on August 19 for this one-of-a-kind webinar on collaborating in remote interpreting assignments [more]
What does this webinar cover?
The Hard Side of Project Management
Managing projects efficiently is essential to maximizing business. Using visual representation to track workflow is a great technique for doing just that. This webinar will teach you three visual strategies to organize time and workflow. The presenter will also discuss tools and software—both free and paid—to use in setting up a visual system as well as a “how-to” demonstration of project management in the real-world. [more]
What does this webinar cover?
Challenges in Human Rights Translation
Finding the best terms to use in any area of translation can be tricky. Fortunately, translators working in human rights have a variety of source documents to help them find the right word every time. Join Presenter Lucy Gunderson to learn about terminology research techniques and the human rights documents available to translators. [more]
What does this webinar cover?
Too Busy to Attend?
Questions? Need more information?
COVID-19 Best Practices for Interpreters
Many ATA members are essential workers who risk exposure to COVID-19 in order to ensure equal access to vital services, such as healthcare, legal, and educational services.
To provide guidance to businesses hiring interpreters during the pandemic, ATA’s Interpretation Advisory Policy Committee collaborated with other translation and interpreting organizations to develop a handout of safe working conditions for interpreters. The information follows the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Organizations and freelancers are encouraged to share this important information with colleagues and clients.
AFTI Announces Student Conference Scholarships
The American Foundation for Translation and Interpreting (AFTI), ATA’s non-profit foundation, has announced several $145 student scholarships to partially defray the cost of attending the ATA61 Annual Conference. The scholarships are sponsored by AFTI’s Edith Losa Fund. The Conference will be held virtually October 21-24, 2020.
The application deadline is September 13, 2020.
Applications will be accepted from students and recent graduates of translation or interpreting studies programs or related field. Click 2020 AFTI Conference Attendance Scholarship to download the application form. Recipients will be announced by October 1, 2020.
Board Meeting Summary: August 1-2
The ATA Board of Directors met August 1-2 in a Zoom virtual meeting. A summary of the meeting’s actions, discussions, and ongoing committee work is online in the Members Only area of the ATA website (login required). This is your opportunity to learn what the Association is doing for you. Take time to stay informed.
Read the latest ATA Board Meeting Summary now!
ATA Board of Directors 2019-2020 (left to right)
Top Row: Secretary Karen Tkaczyk, President-Elect Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, Director Cristina Helmerichs, Director Eve Bodeux. Second Row: Executive Director Walter Bacak, Director Alaina Brandt, Director Tony Guerra, Treasurer John Milan. Third Row: President Ted Wozniak, Director Elena Langdon, Director Megan Konkol, Director Jamie Hartz. Fourth Row: Director Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner, Director Geoff Koby.
Looking Back: The Savvy Newcomer
On July 23, 2013, The Savvy Newcomer blog stepped into the role of trusted advisor and ready resource for translators and interpreters just getting started. Along the way from then to now, the blog has become a favorite read for veterans of the profession who find fresh perspectives in the “do this, don’t do that” advice to newbies.
Take a look back at some popular posts over the years.
If you’re not already a reader of The Savvy Newcomer, consider this your invitation to give it a try. You can sign up for new posts on the blog’s home page. If Twitter is your method for news, look for the blog at twitter.com/SavvyNewcomer. You’ll also want to check out the blog’s popular Facebook page.
In the July/August Issue of The ATA Chronicle
ATA Resolution Supporting Diversity
ATA Treasurer’s Report
Certification Consultant’s Statement on the Membership Requirement for ATA Certification
New Twists on Old Scams: Language Professionals Beware!
Five Strategies for Adapting to Uncertainty
We Need to Go All in to Help Asylum Seekers at the U.S.-Mexico Border
Remote Simultaneous Interpreting Hubs or Platforms: What’s the Best Option?
Future Tense: Thriving Amid the Growing Tension between Language Professionals and Intelligent Systems
How Interpreters Are Making the Switch to Remote Interpreting in a COVID World
News summaries © copyright 2020 SmithBucklin
August 17, 2020
In This Issue
ATA Members Only
Find and Keep Your Best Clients
ATA Webinar Series
The Remote Interprter’s Companion
The Hard Side of Project Management
Challenges in Human Rights Translation
Calendar of Events
ATA61 Annual Conference
See ATA’s Online Calendar for translation & interpreting events around the world.
The ATA Chronicle July/August
ATA Newsbriefs provides executive summaries of noteworthy articles about the translation and interpreting professions. It is distributed every month to ATA members as an exclusive membership benefit. The editorial staff monitors nearly 11,000 newspapers, business publications, websites, national and international wire services, summarizing significant articles into easy-to-read newsbriefs.
For more information about ATA, please contact:
American Translators Association