Newsbriefs: May 16, 2023




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Update from ATA Headquarters: Nomination Period for ATA Board of Directors Elections Extended to June 1, 2023

The ATA Board of Directors has unanimously approved an extension of the nominations period for this year’s Board of Directors Elections. Nominations may be submitted through June 1, 2023, to the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee for consideration.

ATA will hold its regularly scheduled elections at the upcoming ATA 64th Annual Conference in Miami, October 25–28, 2023, to elect a president-elect, secretary, and treasurer (each a two-year term), as well as three directors (each a three-year term).

We encourage you to get involved in the ATA elections process and nominate someone you know or yourself.

Who Is Eligible to Be Nominated?
Under ATA’s Bylaws, all Active members of ATA are eligible to run for elected office. Active members are those who have passed an ATA certification exam or who are established as having achieved professional status through Active Membership Review or through ATA’s Credentialed Interpreter recognition process.

Active members must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. Other membership categories are not eligible to serve as officers or directors. However, any member may submit a nomination.

Members of the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee are not eligible to run for elected office.

Click here for the procedure to nominate candidates for consideration by the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee.

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ATA Mentoring, Rising Star, and Student Translation Awards Still Open!

ATA has acknowledged outstanding service and professional distinction in the translation and interpreting fields since 1964, when it awarded its first Alexander Gode Medal. By recognizing colleagues who, through their daily work, volunteer activities, and careers, exemplify the qualities that define excellence in our industry, the Association salutes their achievements and honors their substantial impact on our community.

ATA is now accepting nominations for the following awards:

Dynamo Award
The ATA Dynamo Award recognizes a person or entity that has worked in a particularly energetic way to benefit ATA and/or the language professions.
Deadline: May 31, 2023

Mentoring Award
The ATA Mentoring Award recognizes a person or entity that has provided outstanding mentoring to the next generation of translators and interpreters, either through the ATA Mentoring Program or through another channel.
Deadline: May 31, 2023

Rising Star Award
The ATA Rising Star Award recognizes an early-career translator, interpreter, or entity that is seen as having already “made a mark” on ATA and seen as having great potential to positively impact ATA and the language professions in the future.
Deadline: May 31, 2023

Student Translation Award
ATA awards a grant-in-aid to a student for a literary or sci-tech translation or translation-related project. The project, which may be derived from any facet of translation studies, should result in a project with post-grant applicability, such as a publication, a conference presentation, or teaching materials. Computerized materials are ineligible, as are dissertations and theses. Translations must be from a foreign language INTO ENGLISH. Previously untranslated works are preferred.
Deadline: July 31, 2023

Visit the ATA Honors and Awards page to review the details and application criteria for each award. Contact with any questions.

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Upcoming Webinars: Questions to Ask and Whispering Skills

ATA is featuring two skill-enhancing webinars to finish the month.

On May 27, ensure a smooth communication with your client before the event and let them help you sound your best in the languages of your audience! Register for the Questions before accepting an interpreting project webinar on May 27 from 12:00 pm – 12:45 pm EDT.

You will learn how to:

  • Understand the impact of remote and hybrid meetings on the interpreter’s work conditions
  • Create a reference list of questions to use for interpreting projects
  • Discover useful resources to support the interpreter’s discussion with the client

This webinar is presented by Maha El-Metwally and free for members.

Just a few days later, plan to attend the Whisper Interpreting: Skills, Strategies and Pitfalls webinar on May 31 from 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm EDT.

Mastering whisper and tour-guide (‘bidule’) interpreting, in the absence of a booth and in situations where time is of the essence, are key skills for a professional interpreter. Attendees will learn how to conquer the skillset required for chuchotage, what traps and errors to avoid and how to manage their space and enable their users to derive maximum benefit from a conference or meeting. Asymmetric interpreting options (both technical and physical) will be explored and explained, helping attendees better advise clients in many typical situations. Tips will be provided on how to reconcile whisper interpreting with the transmission of maximum meaning and content.

The latest webinars are updated on the ATA website. Be sure to visit and register today!

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Industry News

Metro Transit Workers Ordered to Speak Native Language Only in Private

The Seattle Times (04/24/23) Kroman, David

Two employees of the King County Metro in Washington State have filed a lawsuit against the company after they were reprimanded for using their native language in the workplace. They are requesting that Metro adopt policies against language discrimination. The case was recently reassigned to federal court in the Western District of Washington.

In spring 2021, Daniel Fisseha, a supervisor at King County Metro, asked fellow supervisor Berhanemeskal Gebreselassie to print something for him from his computer. He made the request in Amharic (both men are originally from Ethiopia).

On May 5 that year, their boss, Riceda Stewart, called the two longtime employees into her office. She told them that she and her superior, Dennis Lock, had received a complaint from another transit operator who reported feeling uncomfortable with their use of their native language. Shortly after, Fisseha and Gebreselassie filed a complaint with Metro’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO).

According to an investigation conducted by the EEO, Stewart told Fisseha and Gebreselassie they were not “presenting and acting like a professional.” Going forward, Stewart told the two men that if they wanted to speak Amharic, they should do so only in a private room.

The EEO investigation concluded that Stewart’s response was hostile and discriminatory, creating “an atmosphere of inferiority, isolation, and intimidation.” By implementing such a rule specifically targeting two Amharic speakers, the EEO stated that Metro was sending an “overt message that their national origin identities made people uncomfortable and were not appropriate in the workplace, statements that are subjectively and objectively offensive and discriminatory.” The EEO report concluded that Fisseha and Gebreselassie had grounds to sue.

“Our native language is in our DNA,” Gebreselassie said. “That’s our blood. That’s our culture.”

In a statement, Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer said the agency works to build a healthy environment free from harassment or discrimination. “It’s not, nor has it ever been, Metro’s policy, practice, or culture to require people to speak only English,” Switzer said. “We see this as a single, regrettable incident, rather than a rule, and we took swift steps to correct the behavior with the supervisors, including requiring appropriate King County training.”


Federal Government Reaches Settlement with Providence Skilled Nursing Center for Alleged Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act

U.S. Department of Justice (04/27/23)

U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Zachary Cunha announced that the Elmhurst Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center (ERHC) in Providence, Rhode Island, has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island, resolving allegations that ERHC failed to furnish sign language interpreting services during interactions with a resident who is deaf.

Under the settlement agreement, ERHC will adopt new Americans with Disabilities Act policies and practices, train its staff on those policies, report any future complaints, and agree to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure ongoing compliance with the terms of the agreement. ERHC will also pay a settlement of $30,000 to the complainant and a $5,000 civil penalty.

“When deaf Rhode Islanders seek medical care, they shouldn’t have to worry whether a lack of legally required interpreter services will keep them from communicating effectively with their health care providers,” said Cunha. “Today’s settlement ensures that those services will be provided, as the law requires, for all patients.”


Colorado Expands Translation Access for Parents of Special Ed Students

NBC (05/04/23) Flores, Edwin

The Colorado Legislature passed a bill this month that will help expand access to translated education documents for parents who don’t speak English fluently and have children with disabilities. HB 1623 will also help expand access to translator and interpreter services.

Parents and advocates have been promoting the need for translated documents related to the individualized education plan (IEP) process. (An IEP is a lesson plan specifically designed for an individual K-12 student with special needs, such as a child with autism.)

To develop an IEP, parents meet with school administrators and teachers on an annual basis. As required by federal law, parents must receive a final draft translated into their preferred language. But education advocates say the final draft often comes too late in the process to allow parents to make changes or ask questions about the draft, which can include technical language.

Bri Buentello, a former special needs teacher and director of government affairs for Stand for Children Colorado, an education advocacy group, said the legislation is a long-awaited win for parents and community leaders in the state who have advocated for the expansion of services and resources.

“I’ve seen the disproportionate impact that a language barrier brings, specifically in Latino kids,” she said. “HB 1623 is going to drastically increase parental involvement in the IEP process. This is going to lead to us better serving students.”

“The parent is a crucial part of the team. Their feedback and knowledge as an expert on their child is just as important as the teacher’s expertise as an educator,” said Michelle Brenner, director of special education for the Boulder Valley School District.

Brenner noted how the district has taken the initiative in recent years to provide parents with additional translated conversations ahead of the IEP final draft, including providing families with English rough drafts and asking if they would like to speak with someone in their preferred language to walk them through the materials.

Over the past year, the district has implemented a phased rollout of translating draft IEPs at two bilingual schools in Boulder and one in Lafayette because of their larger Spanish-speaking population. That has since been expanded to all the district’s schools in the Lafayette region. The goal is to have a complete rollout for all the schools in the next two years.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” said Don McGinnis, manager of translation and interpreting services for the district. “We’ve got another expansion to do in this last phase to roll out districtwide. And then, I think, in addition to having the information to families, we also need to provide learning for our families around how they can be involved.”

Dallas Beefs Up Effort to Provide Services in More Languages

Dallas Morning News (TX) (04/25/23) Pacheco, Maria Ramos

Dallas, Texas, hopes to eliminate language barriers and improve communication between departments and the community by hiring more bilingual employees, providing training and incentivizing language learning for current staff, translating more city content, and establishing a community ambassador program.

During a presentation in April to the Dallas Committee on Workforce, Education, and Equity, Lindsey Wilson, director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion, highlighted the tools the city will use to boost bilingual staff and communicate better with residents. “The city is engaging both internally and externally as we all work together to ensure that the city is the most equitable in the country,” she said. “Language access is at the root of that.”

Wilson said one of the city’s first actions to increase language inclusivity was publishing the Racial and Equity Plan in the city’s five most widely spoken languages besides English (Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese (simplified), Korean, and Amharic). Juanita Arévalo, president of local community organization Pleasant Grove Unidos, said although she has witnessed greater efforts by the city to provide information in languages other than English, hiring more bilingual staffers is key.

At least 36% of Dallas’ population is Spanish-speaking. The Office of Equity and Inclusion estimated that more than 90 languages are spoken throughout the city. The Committee on Workforce, Education, and Equity will use a “Language Map” to be more language-inclusive. The tool was designed to identify the languages and needs of residents by zip code, said Adriana Portillo, Dallas’ language access coordinator.

“If an area, for example, has a high population of Korean-language speakers, we are going to go to that area and provide information in Korean, or we are going to have a Korean interpreter with us to speak to those communities directly,” she said.

Another tool for hiring bilingual speakers is the Language Skills Assignment Pay program, which provides a monthly stipend for certified bilingual city workers, who must renew their certifications every two or five years, depending on how proficient they are. “The program is meant to reward employees who bring that skill to facilitate communication with our residents,” said Nina Arias, director of the Office of Human Resources for the City of Dallas.

City officials have also acknowledged the need to engage more time with the community, and to that end designed the Rapid Resilience Community Ambassador Program, where neighbors can serve as intermediaries, said Christina da Silva, division officer at the Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs Office. “The program is designed to formalize our engagement with language and diverse communities.”

The Office of Equity and Inclusion also plans to have all city departments adopt language access protocols by December 2023 so residents can effectively communicate with city staff and receive information in their preferred language. “We are committed to language access and committed to being a welcoming space for all,” said Wilson.

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ATA News

Let’s Talk About ATA Certification! New Episode of the ATA Podcast Available Now!

Thinking about taking the ATA Certification Exam? Failed the practice text and wondering what to do now? Then this podcast is for you!

In this episode, ATA Podcast Host Matt Baird speaks with David Stephenson, Chair of ATA’s Certification Committee. David shares insights into the practice test, explains what you should do with the results, and provides a long list of ways to prepare for the exam.

Show Highlights (Click the link to access the article or page listed.)

Please send comments, questions, or requests about the ATA podcast to Thank you for listening!

ATA64: Reserve Your Room Now! Registration coming soon!

Plans are underway for the ATA Annual Conference taking place October 25-28, 2023 in Miami, Florida. That time will be here before you know it and so will the deadline to get your hotel room at a discount. Don’t procrastinate, get the ATA room rate!

Book your room at the Hyatt Regency Miami now by clicking HERE.

Wondering about registration? Exhibits? Sponsorships? Stay tuned as all registrations, exhibitor sales, and sponsorship packages will open in mid-June.

Speaking of sponsorship, new packages will be available for ATA64. These offerings will allow you to promote your business or organization to the ATA membership and ATA64 attendees. To be added to the list to receive the information as soon as it becomes available, contact

Make This the Year You Enter ATA’s School Outreach Contest!

There’s no time like the present to start planning a School Outreach presentation and contest entry!

Profile of ATA’s 2022 School Outreach Contest Winner
ATA-certified English>Spanish translator Aída Carrazco won the 2022 ATA School Outreach Contest. She received a free registration to ATA’s 63rd Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California, for submitting a story and photo she took with students during her interactive presentation to her son’s classroom at Instituto Thomas Jefferson in Zapopan, Mexico. Read Aída’s profile on our website!

How to Enter the Contest
Share your career story with any educational-level or age group of students, then submit a summary of your experience along with a photo of your presentation—a screenshot works just fine if you presented virtually. Check out these tips for taking the winning shot!

And be sure to listen to Episode 53 of The ATA Podcast to learn more about the program and all the resources ATA has at the ready for putting together a presentation. The deadline for the 2023 contest is July 31.

News summaries © copyright 2023 Smithbucklin

May 16, 2023

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