Newsbriefs: October 16, 2023


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ATA64: There’s Still Time to Register!

Late registration pricing is still available for ATA64, October 25-28 in Miami, Florida! You don’t want to miss the number one event for professional translators and interpreters.

With over 190 sessions—from practical skills to teaching theory, across all levels of experience—no other event provides translators and interpreters with this much professional development.

There’s More in Store at ATA64!!
In addition to the informative sessions and professional development you can expect, plan on enjoying some fun social activities to help keep your conference connections strong. Here are some event highlights:

Stay Energized! Join your colleagues for Zumba and yoga classes on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings.

Meet for Breakfast: Look for the meetups scheduled during breakfast on all three conference mornings.

Networking That Works! ATA64 offers an endless variety of specialized networking opportunities where you can build partnerships, promote your services, make new friends, get more involved with ATA, or simply have fun!

Exhibit Hall: Everything you need, all in one place! ATA’s Exhibit Hall allows you to discover new products, learn about school programs, and see which agencies are hoping to recruit your services.

AFTI Game Night: Join your colleagues for board and trivia games while supporting the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation. A donation of $10 is requested at the door for this fundraising event, but not required.

After Hours Café: The Literary Division invites you to attend this coffeehouse “open mic” to read your original or translated creative work, listen to others, or both. If reading, don’t forget to bring your works with you.

Check out the full event schedule here! Of course, you can also take in the sights of Miami and experience the city’s multicultural history, warmth, and hospitality. See you there!

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New ATA Model Job Contract Now Online!

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

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Industry News

End of Pandemic-Era Practice of Providing Interpreters for Asylum Seekers Stirs Confusion, Anger

CBS News Miami (FL) (09/29/23) Seward, Larry

Critics warn that the termination of a pandemic-era practice to provide interpreters for those seeking asylum is jeopardizing lives.

The change in immigration policy has forced some asylum seekers to find and retain their own interpreters to get status.

During the pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suspended the requirement that people seeking asylum had to bring their own interpreter to interviews with immigration authorities. DHS began providing professional interpreters for virtual interviews to limit potential exposure to the virus in face-to-face meetings. Funding for this service ended in September when authorities instructed the department to reinstate the original regulations requiring applicants to bring their own interpreters to interviews. However, immigration advocates do not agree and say the government should continue to provide interpreters.

“What we learned during the time of COVID was that there really isn’t a need for DHS to require people to bring their own interpreter as the existing rule requires,” said Luz Lopez, senior supervising attorney for the Immigrant Justice Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The government can function just fine providing the interpreter services itself.”

Lopez said the federal government is required under Executive Order 13166 to comply with language access regulations similar to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “To have a fair asylum proceeding, you need to make sure that an interpreter is qualified and that they can accurately and effectively interpret,” she said. “The only way we can really guarantee that is to have persons who are professionals interpreting. Having a qualified interpreter can be the difference between that person’s life or death.”

Miami-based immigration attorney Willie Allen said the current regulation leaves people vulnerable. He thinks people working through the process alone could be scammed. “You’re depending entirely on the interpreter,” Allen said. “A poor interpreter—somebody who has not been certified or not had the experience of being an interpreter—concerns me in terms of how you can tell your story and how it comes across. It’s so important to be able to tell your story correctly with correct language. The difference between winning and losing is in the interpreting.”


Nearly Half of Minnesota American Sign Language Interpreters Expected to Leave Profession by 2026

KIMT3 (10/02/23) Cote, Brandon

Minnesota is looking to deal with a statewide shortage of American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters before it becomes a problem.

According to a survey by the Minnesota Registry of Interpreters, 39% of Minnesota interpreters are leaving or decreasing their workload. Reasons for their departures include retirement, career changes, and burnout.

The Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH) is trying to combat this shortage through its Interpreting Forward 2030 program. This initiative is investigating the cause of the shortage and is touring the state to obtain feedback from community members outside the metro area of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Rural areas are experiencing the most significant impact from the shortage since they lack interpreting training programs.

“It’s really hard to recruit trained interpreters from the metro area to move out to greater Minnesota, so that’s always been a challenge for us as well as the number of students entering the interpreting field,” said Darlene Zangara, executive director of MNCDHH.

The commission says interpreters are essential for patients visiting the Med City for treatment. “That is such a critical area that you need to have qualified interpreters. Having somebody there in person is huge,” Zangara said.


AI to Help Baltimore Agencies Bridge Language Gaps

Baltimore Sun (10/13/23) Lora, Maya

By the end of the year, city officials say Baltimore residents who don’t speak English will be able to communicate with 911 services in their native language without waiting for an interpreter.

Convey911, which currently provides text-based translation services for the city’s 911 calls, plans to implement a new AI-backed service in the coming months to improve communication between residents who speak languages other than English and workers taking 911 calls.

Jeff Bruns, chief executive officer of Convey911, presented plans for the technology to a city council committee last week. Bruns explained that a caller will be able to speak in their native language, which will be detected by AI software and translated on the call center employee’s screen. When the employee responds in English, that will be translated and then delivered back to the caller in a synthesized voice, like Siri, speaking the caller’s native language. That service will initially be supported in about 65 languages, Bruns said, with hopes of scaling up to 105 languages by spring of next year.

The solution was one of several offered by city agencies at an informational hearing held by the city council’s Education, Workforce, and Youth Committee on hiring bilingual speakers to help residents who speak limited English and struggle to access government resources.

The issue has been spearheaded by Councilmember Odette Ramos, a representing the 14th district and Baltimore’s first elected Latino. “Everybody should be able to access city government,” Ramos said. “The Latino population is growing so fast in our city and everybody…whether you speak English or not, should have access to city services and should have access to public meetings and should have access to the same services that everybody else has.”

Residents said they’ve continuously encountered roadblocks when trying to speak with government agencies or access government resources. And organizations that work with those residents have similar frustrations.

Julia Sarmiento, the tenant services and eviction prevention program manager for the Latino Economic Development Center, said that members of the Hispanic community can struggle when trying to fill out forms for government assistance. Sarmiento said that although the forms are in Spanish, they are complicated and residents need help from employees within social services offices who often don’t speak Spanish. “Sometimes, we have to continuously see the clients over and over,” Sarmiento said. “It’s like we’re doing the social work social workers should be doing.”

Like other advocates, Sarmiento wants to see Baltimore invest in hiring more bilingual people to work in the city. According to Tenea Reddick, the city’s 911 director, of the city’s 71 employees who answer 911 calls, two of them are bilingual and both speak Spanish. She is looking to hire more bilingual workers who speak a variety of languages, though she said it has been a struggle. “The information is not getting to a certain group of individuals,” Reddick said. “It’s time for us to take that information to them and also invite them in so they can see the environment of 911 and get them excited for possibly working here.”

Ramos said during the hearing that while the new initiatives on the horizon for 911 are exciting, they are not a substitute for hiring bilingual employees.

At the hearing, some speakers emphasized that just hiring Spanish speakers is not enough to bridge the divide in accessing services. Giuliana Valencia-Banks, a member of the Baltimore City Hispanic Commission and the Latino Racial Justice Circle, noted that some Latinos speak Indigenous languages and would struggle to communicate with bilingual employees who speak Spanish. She emphasized the need for cultural competency training.

“We want to remind the council that shared language does not always mean shared culture or shared lived experience,” Valencia-Banks said. “It is important to highlight this because the presumption can be that hiring Latino Spanish-speakers will solve language barriers to individuals with limited English proficiency. And this is just not the case.”

California School District Decides to Translate Children’s Books into Mixteco

Chalkbeat (CO) (09/29/23) Aguilera-Fort, Karling

California’s Oxnard School District has translated children’s books into Mixteco as a service to Mexican families for whom neither English nor Spanish is their first language.

Former Oxnard School District Superintendent Karling Aguilera-Fort said most of Oxnard’s 14,000 students hail from low-income, Spanish-speaking families. “Nearly 500 families reported speaking Mixteco, an Indigenous language of Southern Mexico, which has scores of variants,” he said. “For a long time, though, Mixteco wasn’t represented in any of our literacy materials, often making it hard for families to read together.”

Mixteco translator and community support liaison Argelia Alvarado Zarate informed the Oxnard school board last spring that many students often felt ashamed to disclose their Mixteco heritage or identify with their language and culture. Aguilera-Fort said the idea to translate digital books into Mixteco was inspired by a family reading night a few years ago. Norma Zarate Cruz, another district Mixteco translator and community support liaison, translated a book into Mixteco for some attending families.

“Recognizing the literacy barriers that our Mixteco-speaking families faced, Alvarado Zarate and Zarate Cruz approached our school board with an idea to help these students and their families read together,” Aguilera-Fort said. “They got approval to translate some of our digital books available on myON, the educational software company Renaissance’s digital reading platform. The app gives students access to digital books that match their desired language and interests.”

The district collaborated with Renaissance to translate digital books into written and spoken Mixteco. “Now, Mixteco-speaking families throughout Oxnard have 25 books they can enjoy together,” Aguilera-Fort said. “For the first time, our families can listen to stories in their native language and read stories that appreciate and preserve their rich culture.”

Alvarado Zarate and Zarate Cruz chose books likely to engage Mixteco-speaking students in the younger grades, which focused on themes like overcoming bullying, cultural pride, and spreading kindness, including Tasha Viun Caáchl Oso (Bear Says “Thank You”). They had to make choices to maximize accessibility, even though Mixteco isn’t a written language.

“In each of the digital books, the text follows Spanish phonics, and the recording was spoken in the San Martin Peras variant of Mixteco,” Aguilera-Fort said. “The audiobooks include two familiar voices: Zarate Cruz’s and Alvarado Zarate’s.”

Aguilera-Fort said Oxnard’s Mixteco translation project aims to foster global-thinking students and cultivate digital learners who possess pride in their cultural heritage. “To truly reflect diversity, equity, and inclusion, we know that content must go deeper than honoring heroes and holidays,” he said. “We cannot pretend that we understand and reflect the different cultural backgrounds of our student population if we don’t elevate others who can speak to those experiences.”

ATA News

ATA Elections: Get to Know the Candidates

ATA will hold its regularly scheduled elections at the upcoming ATA 64th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida (October 25-28, 2023) to elect a president-elect, secretary, and treasurer for a two-year term, as well as three directors for a three-year term. The Annual Meeting of Voting Members and Elections will be held October 26, 2023 (8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. EDT). In addition to electing Board directors, Voting members will also vote on proposed Bylaws amendments.

Attention Voting Members
ATA has partnered with Survey & Ballot Systems (SBS) to administer the 2023 elections. Voting members should have received proxy ballots and instructions by email on October 5th. All voting will be electronic—there will be no paper ballots on-site.

  • If you are an ATA Voting member and did not receive the email from SBS: Voting members who did not receive the election email October 5 should click HERE and enter the email address they have on file with ATA. The election login information will then be sent to that address.
  • For technical support: Technical support is available Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CT, excluding holidays. Call +1-952-974-2339 or submit a question or chat at
  • Important! Add SBS to your safe sender list: To ensure receipt of the proxy and voting instructions, please add as an approved sender in your email settings.

Become an Informed Voter
Take time to learn more about the individuals on the slate, and don’t forget to vote!

  • Candidate Statements: Read the individual candidate statements on ATA’s website HERE or on the ATA Chronicle-Online (login required) to find out what skills each will bring to the Board and what they hope to accomplish, if elected. Even if you’re not a Voting member, check out what this year’s candidates envision for ATA’s future.
  • Podcast Interviews: In Episode 93 of The ATA Podcast, Host Matt Baird asks the candidates about the T&I work they do, why they joined ATA, why they are running for office, and what is an area of ATA where they feel they can have the most impact if elected. Listen now!
  • Breakfast with the Candidates: If you’re attending ATA64, you’ll have the chance to meet the candidates at breakfast on Thursday, October 26 (7:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. EDT)

ATA’s Special Interest Groups

ATA has created three special interest groups (SIGs): Financial Translators (FT SIG), Interpreters & Translators in Education (ITE SIG), and Southeast Asian Languages (SEAL SIG). Similar to divisions, members of SIGs get access to private discussion groups where members can discuss terminology, share training opportunities, and find support for their unique challenges. To join or learn more, contact,, or

Upcoming online SIGs meetups!

Southeast Asian Languages SIG
Wednesday October 18 at 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. PST
Zoom Link to Attend

Attendees to ATA64 in Miami will have the opportunity to meet the moderators of each SIG in person at the Division & Special Interest Groups Mix and Mingle. The event will be held on Wednesday, October 25 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., directly after the Welcome Celebration.

Listen to the Latest Episode of The ATA Podcast!

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!

Episode 93: ATA 2023 Elections – Meet the Candidates
ATA will hold its regularly scheduled elections at the upcoming ATA 64th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida (October 25-28, 2023) to elect a president-elect, secretary, and treasurer for a two-year term, as well as three directors for a three-year term.

In this episode, Host Matt Baird asks the candidates about the T&I work they do, why they joined ATA, why they are running for office, and what is an area of ATA where they feel they can have the most impact, if elected. Listen Now

Upcoming Webinars

ATA TEKTalks: Is Bureau Works the Right Tool for You?
October 18: 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. EDT
Join us for an interview with Gabriel Fairman from Bureau Works (BWX), a translation management system. This introduction to the tool will offer freelance translators, in-house linguists, company owners, and students an overview of how it can help increase productivity and bring in new business.
Register Here

Certified, Notarized, and Apostilled Translations in the U.S.
November 7: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST
Presenter(s): Marco Hanson and Margaret Hanson
Unravel the intricacies of certified, notarized, and apostilled translations in the U.S. during this webinar, where expert legal translators, who are also certified notary publics, share invaluable insights on handling official documents with precision and professionalism.
Register Here

Advanced Simultaneous Interpreting Strategies for Interpreters (Parts 1 and 2)
November 9 and November 16: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. EST
Presenter(s): Martin Soriano
Unlock your full potential in the world of conference interpreting by gaining the tools and knowledge necessary to overcome its challenges and become a highly sought-after interpreter!
Register Here

Some Uncomfortable Truths about Machine Interpreting
December 5: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EDT
Presenter(s): Jonathan Downie
Join this webinar to explore the future of human interpreting in the age of AI, addressing the fears and opportunities posed by machine interpreting while unveiling essential insights to empower you in an evolving landscape!
Register Here

Upcoming Events

ATA German Language Division Co-Working Session
October 19: 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT

Take an hour to meet with GLD colleagues as we work on our businesses. Tune in, share your goal for the session, work for an hour, meet up, and let us know how it went. Please note: This event will be conducted in German. More Information

ATA Board of Directors Meeting
October 29: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. EST
Hyatt Regency Miami
400 South East Second Avenue
Miami, FL
(Room: Orchid – Terrace Level)
The Board of Directors will meet immediately after ATA’s 64th Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency Miami. All members are invited to observe the proceedings. See your Board members in action as they discuss and deliberate. Board Meetings are open to the public. If attending, you must check in with ATA Executive Director Kelli Baxter when you arrive.

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News summaries © copyright 2023 Smithbucklin

October 16, 2023

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Have you made an appointment to have a professional headshot taken during ATA64?

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ATA64: Get Ready!

Blue and white striped beach chair with matching umbrella in the sand. A beach ball sits on the ground next to the chair. The caption ATA64, October 25-28, 2023, Miami
Conference Information

ATA TEKTalks: Is Bureau Works the Right Tool for You?
October 18: 12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. EDT

Certified, Notarized, and Apostilled Translations in the U.S.
November 7: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EST

Advanced Simultaneous Interpreting Strategies for Interpreters (Parts 1 and 2)
November 9 and November 16: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. EST

Some Uncomfortable Truths about Machine Interpreting
December 5: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. EDT

Upcoming Events

ATA German Language Division Co-Working Session
October 19: 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT

ATA Board of Directors Meeting
October 29: 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT

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