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U.K. British Ministry of Defence Fined for 2021 Data Breach Involving Afghan Interpreters
BBC (12/12/23) McMahon, Liv; Vallance, Chris
The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been fined £350,000 ($440,000) by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for a data breach in 2021 in which the personal details of interpreters fleeing Taliban-ruled Afghanistan were revealed. The details of as many as 265 people who may have been eligible to come to the U.K. under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) were mistakenly copied into an email.
“This deeply regrettable data breach let down those to whom our country owes so much,” ICO Commissioner John Edwards said. “This was a particularly egregious breach of the obligation of security owed to these people, thus warranting the financial penalty my office imposes today.”
The main breach was first revealed in September 2021. It occurred when ARAP sent a mass email to people who had worked with the U.K. government and were eligible for evacuation. (Most, but not all, were interpreters.) In the message, recipients’ addresses were put in the “to” field rather than the intended blind carbon copy (Bcc) field, which meant they were visible to everyone. Further information about those trying to leave Afghanistan, including one person’s location, was then exposed when two people responded to the email by selecting “reply all.”
An interpreter affected by the breach, speaking in 2021, told the BBC the mistake “could cost the life of interpreters, especially for those who are still in Afghanistan.”
“Some of the interpreters didn’t notice the mistake and replied to all the emails and explained their situation, which is very dangerous. The email contains their profile pictures and contact details.”
Former U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said at the time it would be an understatement to say he had been angered by the breach. “The incident let down thousands of members of the armed forces and veterans,” Wallace told the House of Commons in September 2021.
Soon after the data breach, the MoD contacted the people affected asking them to delete the email, change their email address, and inform the ARAP team of their new contact details via a secure form. The MoD also conducted an internal investigation, made a statement in Parliament about the breach, and updated the ARAP’s email policies and processes, including implementing a “second pair of eyes” policy for the ARAP team when sending emails to multiple external recipients. This procedure provides a double check whereby an email instigated by one staff member is cross checked by another.
“The Ministry of Defence takes its data protection obligations incredibly seriously,” a spokesperson for the MoD said. “We have cooperated extensively with the ICO throughout their investigation to ensure a prompt resolution, and we recognize the severity of what has happened. We fully acknowledge today’s ruling and apologize to those affected.”
Need for Interpreters: Members of Maine’s Deaf Community Take Concerns to Washington
WMTW (12/07/23) Bartow, Adam
Members of Maine’s deaf community traveled to Capitol Hill earlier this month to speak with members of Maine’s congressional delegation about some of the major challenges they faced in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Lewiston in October, including a lack of interpreters.
Elizabeth Seal, who is deaf and the wife of Joshua Seal, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter who died in the shooting, said the tragedy revealed multiple problems, including a lack of effective communication with members of the deaf community who were unable to get questions answered after the shooting.
Joshua was killed inside Schemengees Bar and Grille, which was hosting a community event for members of the deaf community at the time Robert Card walked in and opened fire. Card had killed several people at a nearby bowling alley just minutes before entering the bar. In all, 18 people lost their lives. Card was later found dead and is believed to have taken his own life.
Seal spoke for several minutes about the challenges she faced on the night after the gunman opened fire.
“I was looking for my husband. I didn’t know where he was,” she said. “I was calling hospitals, trying to go to the hospitals, trying to talk to interpreters. There were survivors on the ground when the ambulances arrived, and then the responders realized, ‘Wow, there are deaf people here. We don’t know how to communicate with them. ‘”
Seal said the hospitals where survivors were brought did not have sign language interpreters on staff. Instead, they provided virtual remote interpreting (VRI) via iPad. “The connectivity and bandwidth caused issues with freezing,” Seal said. “The interpreters who arrived there in person were not allowed in, so those VRI interpreters had no context of what was going on and what was being said.”
Seal added that the deaf community was completely in the dark about what was going on, especially in the first hour. “We had no access to communication. We were communicating by text with each other, standing there in person, just trying to piece together what was going on.”
“I was there all night at the reunification center, and several hours later, after the shooting, we still had no access. There were no interpreters there,” Seal said. “My mother-in-law, who was still looking for her son, who was grieving, was forced to try and use her sign language to communicate with me. And that was not okay for her. It was not okay for me, and it was not okay for the greater community and the deaf community.”
Seal also expressed frustration about the lack of closed captioning on some media coverage outlets and that ASL interpreters were not shown on screen during police updates. Seal said more steps need to be taken to ensure proper communication with the deaf community, even outside of the context of the Lewiston shooting.
“This is an issue that’s persisted up until this day, and we can’t start our healing journey until we have all the information,” Seal said. “Today I feel like we’ve gotten support for that investigation, and I’m very grateful for that, but I want to see action.”
USDA Releases Language Access Plan to Expand Access to Department Resources and Programs
U.S. Department of Agriculture (11/15/23)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a department-wide language access plan to ensure that limited-English-proficient (LEP) individuals receive meaningful access to USDA’s resources, programs, and activities. The updated language access plan comes on the one-year anniversary of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s language access memorandum to federal agencies.
“USDA’s work touches the lives of everyone across the country, and ensuring meaningful and equitable access to our programs is vital,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Our staff work hard every day to strengthen the services and programs that deliver on our mission, and the policies included in this plan will help make USDA a better and stronger department.”
Under this plan, USDA mission areas, agencies, staff offices, and staff will continue to plan for and provide LEP individuals with timely, accurate, and effective communications within all programs or activities conducted by USDA. The agency will also work to ensure that providers of USDA-supported programs are complying with their corresponding obligations.
“Federal civil rights regulations guarantee all individuals in the United States the right to equitable access to services, regardless of their level of English proficiency,” said USDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Penny Brown Reynolds. “Language access is a team effort that requires strong support from our agency leaders, as well as participation from staff across the entire department to coordinate efforts with the USDA Language Access Plan to ensure accessibility. By working together, we are able to produce information and communication tools that meet the needs of our stakeholders that request services from USDA.”
Biden-Harris Administration Launches “Being Bilingual Is a Superpower” to Promote Multilingual Education for a Diverse Workforce
U.S. Department of Education (11/16/23)
As part of its Raise the Bar: Create Pathways for Global Engagement program, the Biden-Harris administration has launched “Being Bilingual Is a Superpower,” an initiative by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to promote multilingual education and bolster high-quality language programs and a diverse multilingual educator workforce across the country.
“Being Bilingual Is a Superpower” will promote and advance the understanding of bilingualism and biliteracy as an educational and economic imperative for student success, global competitiveness, and engagement. The new initiative under the ED’s Office of English Language Acquisition will seek to promote research-based bilingual educational opportunities and language instruction in early learning education settings and beyond.
In support of U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s multilingual agenda and its goals, the ED awarded $33.2 million in 24 new grants to Native Hawaiian educational and community-based organizations and entities in Hawaii through the Native Hawaiian Education program. The ED has also awarded nearly $2 million in grants under the Native American and Alaska Native Children in School program to enhance capacity and provide effective instruction and support to Native American students who are English learners.
Additionally, the ED released a letter from Secretary Cardona to families, educators, and leaders to share resources for English learner students. These resources inform educators and leaders on how to ensure that English learners and multilingual learners can meaningfully participate in education programs. They also provide families with information on how to support their children.
“Make no mistake: multilingualism is a superpower. Knowing more than one language, acquiring a new language through school, or learning new languages later in life can provide tangible academic, cognitive, economic, and sociocultural advantages,” said Secretary Cardona. “As our nation continues to grow more diverse, and as our global economy becomes more interconnected, we cannot seize our nation’s full potential to compete and lead the world unless we raise the bar and provide all students with opportunities to become multilingual.”
Disability Advocates Urge Maryland Agencies to Improve Language Access
Baltimore Sun (12/11/23) Roberts, Angela
Spanish speakers in Maryland, among other non-native English speakers, have long struggled to access disability services for themselves and their children. A recent analysis of state data showed that while 14% of Maryland public school students who are diagnosed with autism are Hispanic, that’s only true of 4% of Marylanders participating in the state’s autism waiver program, which provides home and community-based support for children with the disability.
The analysis was conducted by Enriqueciendo Vidas, a coalition of Maryland disability advocacy groups that are seeking equitable access to services for Hispanic and other underserved state residents. The coalition’s analysis also found that while the state’s population is 12% Hispanic (up from about 8% in 2010), Hispanics make up 3% of people participating in services with Maryland’s Developmental Disabilities Administration.
In October, Enriqueciendo Vidas wrote a letter to Maryland Governor Wes Moore and other state leaders urging them to address the disparities. In the letter, organizations in the coalition asked leaders to require state agencies that serve people with disabilities to create language access plans—and couple that mandate with funding to ensure the plans are implemented.
In the letter, Enriqueciendo Vidas said the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Department of Disabilities both reported not having a language access plan—a policy that includes instructions for translating documents, providing interpreting, and training staff on how to effectively use interpreters. Language access plans also inform families how to access language services, request translated documents or interpreting, and file complaints when language services are not provided.
Under Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, organizations that receive money from the federal government are required to take reasonable steps to provide people with limited English proficiency with meaningful access to their programs and services. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Code of Maryland Regulations additionally require that some special education documents be translated into a person’s native language.
Despite these regulations, some state agencies need to improve the way they deliver accessible services, said Lisa Lorraine, a program manager at the Jubilee Association of Maryland, an organization that supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Montgomery County. For example, when someone applies to receive services from the Developmental Disabilities Administration—which is run by the state health department—they receive a letter that explains whether they’re eligible. The letter lists a phone number people can call for assistance in their native language, but when they call the number, the message is in English, Lorraine said. “It does not give an option for language access assistance,” she said. “I have called this number—I’ve asked clients to call this number—but we don’t really get anywhere.”
Enriqueciendo Vidas has scheduled meetings with the Maryland Department of Disabilities and the Department of Health. Even though the health department has a language access plan, advocates said families still sometimes face obstacles to interpreting and translation services when applying for agency programs.
Enriqueciendo Vidas’ letter also asks state leaders to provide multi-year, consistent funding to nonprofits that provide education, training, and guidance to underserved families that care for people with disabilities.
“What we’re asking for is the systemic solution,” Lorraine said. “That the state put in the investment, continuous investment, to be able to support this type of work at organizations that have a proven track record of doing it.”
American Association of Interpreters and Translators in Education Publishes
National Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Interpreters and Translators in Education
The American Association of Interpreters and Translators in Education (AAITE) has published the National Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Interpreters and Translators in Education! This is a significant milestone for translators and interpreters in education, as well as anyone working in language access and students and families who benefit from T&I services at schools.
As valued members of our community, AAITE invites you to download and familiarize yourself with these important documents that outline the principles and guidelines for ethical conduct in educational interpreting and translation. These codes are designed to ensure that professionals in our industry uphold the highest standards of integrity, confidentiality, and professionalism.
To access the National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Education and National Code of Ethics for Translators in Education, please visit aaite.org. The documents can be found in the top right section of the page under “Quick Links.” They can also be found in the “Our Work” section of the website.
AAITE encourages you to share these documents with your colleagues, administrators, and anyone involved in educational interpreting and translation. By adhering to these codes, we collectively contribute to creating a positive and inclusive learning environment for all.
ATA wishes to thank AAITE for this important contribution to promoting high professional standards in our professions!
Interpreting SAFE-AI Task Force
Perception Survey on Automated Interpreting from Actual Users
ATA is proud to support the Interpreting SAFE-AI Task Force, which was formed by a cross-section of stakeholders to establish, disseminate, and promote industry-wide guidelines, use cases, regulations, and best practices for the responsible adoption of AI in interpreting.
Thanks to everyone for supporting the Perception Survey launched by the Task Force in November. To date, more than 1,300 interpreters have completed the survey.
The Task Force now needs your help to ensure that it hears from the end-users—patients, health care service providers, conference attendees, parents, teachers, law enforcement officers, court administrators, or anyone who communicates with the help of a spoken or sign language interpreter.
To assist in accomplishing this goal, the Task Force is asking all interpreters to:
Personally invite three end-users in your community who have experience communicating through a human interpreter or a machine interpreting application.
Provide them with the QR code below or sit down with them to complete the survey together. You can also access the survey by clicking here.
To allow more time to collect end-user feedback, the Task Force is extending the survey closing date to January 12, 2024.
Scan the QR code above or click here to take the survey.
The ATA Podcast provides listeners with a behind-the-scenes look at ATA’s programs, events, and plans. Plus, learn more about the dedicated volunteers who make it all happen!
E96: 2023 State of the Association
In this episode of The ATA Podcast, we talk to new ATA President Veronika Demichelis and revisit this year of transition for ATA. Listen in as Host Matt Baird asks Veronika about changes in ATA, including membership, the work of our volunteers, the Board, our committees, ATA Headquarters, and where ATA currently stands.
Among other things overviewing 2023, you’ll also hear about ATA financially, the impact of our advocacy efforts, and the recent statement on artificial intelligence. As we move to the future and take note of challenges we’ve overcome this year, we’re grateful to our membership, volunteers, and leadership, and we look forward to 2024! Listen Now
A job contract is a one-time arrangement covering an individual job or assignment. It specifies the details of the work for that job—and only for that job. This template-style form was developed from best practices in the industry and includes standard conditions and terms that should be defined for every job. ATA Members can download the Model Job Contract by accessing the Member Center (look for the contract under ATA Resources). Download Now
Congratulations to Olivia Singier, winner of a complimentary three-day registration to ATA’s 65th Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon (October 30-November 2, 2024)! Olivia’s name was randomly selected from those attendees who completed this year’s Overall Conference Survey.
Make Plans for Portland in 2024!
It’s not too soon to start making plans for ATA65 next year. Watch ATA’s website for more details coming soon!
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ATA is a professional association founded in 1959 to advance the translation and interpreting professions and foster the professional development of translators and interpreters. With thousands of members in more than 100 countries, the Association includes translators, interpreters, language services providers, educators, project managers, localization specialists, hospitals, universities, and government agencies.
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.
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