ATA recently moved on two new opportunities to advocate on behalf of translators and interpreters.
ATA Opposes Lower Interpreter Exam Scores in Texas
Two bills to lower court interpreter exam scores to 60% are under consideration in the Texas Legislature. ATA has voiced its opposition to the proposals in a letter, citing the injustice of providing limited-English-proficient speakers with interpreters who fail to accurately interpret 40% of what is said. Read now.
ATA Calls for a Public Directory of Federally-Certified Interpreters
ATA has written to Robert Lowney, chief of the Courts Programs Division for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, to urge the publication of a public roster of Federally-Certified interpreters that attorneys and individuals in need of interpreters can access. Read now.
Previous ATA Advocacy Activities
- ATA spokesperson Judy Jenner was interviewed by CNN about interpreter ethics and response to a congressional subpoena. Read now.
- ATA joined eight associations to warn the U.S. Department of Justice against the use of unqualified interpreters in immigration proceedings. Read now.
- ATA provided comments to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on draft Language Access Plans. Read now.
ATA T&I Advocacy Day
ATA partnered with the Joint National Committee for Languages to organize a Translation & Interpreting Advocacy Day during ATA's 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Conference attendees participated in a morning advocacy training workshop before traveling to Capitol Hill, where they met with staffers in 68 Congressional offices. Read now.
Professional Certification Advocacy Coalition
ATA joined the Professional Certification Coalition to address legislation that would affect voluntary certification programs. State legislature proposals have ranged from no longer recognizing voluntary credentials, since they might be considered barriers to the market, to regulating the service, if the credential is that important. Read now.
Facebook's Flood of Languages Leaves It Struggling to Monitor Content
Reuters (NY) (04/23/19) Flick, Maggie; Paresh, Dave
Facebook's struggles with hate speech and other types of problematic content are being hampered by the company's inability to keep up with a flood of new languages as mobile phones bring social media to every corner of the globe.
Facebook offers its 2.3 billion users features such as menus and prompts in 111 languages. However, detailed rules known as "community standards," which bar users from posting offensive material, including hate speech and celebrations of violence, have only been translated into 41 of these languages. This language deficit complicates Facebook's battle to rein in harmful content and the damage it can cause. Countries such as Australia, Singapore, and the U.K. are now threatening harsh new regulations, punishable by steep fines or jail time for executives, if Facebook fails to remove objectionable posts promptly.
The community standards (about 9,400 words in English) are updated monthly. "It's proving to be a heavy lift to translate these standards into all those languages," says Monika Bickert, the Facebook vice president in charge of the standards. She says the standards are translated case by case depending on whether a language has a critical mass of usage and whether Facebook is a primary information source for speakers. Among priorities for translations are Khmer, the official language in Cambodia, and Sinhala, the dominant language in Sri Lanka.
Facebook's 15,000-strong content moderation workforce speaks about 50 languages, although the company says it hires professional translators when needed. The company also uses automated software as a key defense against prohibited content. Developed using a type of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, the company states that these tools identify hate speech in about 30 languages and "terrorist propaganda" in about 19. "Machine learning requires a massive volume of data to train computers, and a scarcity of text in other languages presents a challenge in rapidly developing the tools," says Guy Rosen, the Facebook vice president who oversees automated policy enforcement.
Bickert says Facebook's efforts to protect people from harmful content represents "a level of language investment that surpasses most any technology company." But human rights officials say Facebook's efforts are in jeopardy in strife-torn nations where its language capabilities have not kept up with the impact of social media.
"These standards are supposed to be the rules of the road, and both customers and regulators should insist social media platforms make the rules known and effectively police them," says Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division. "Failure to do so opens the door to serious abuses."
Amazon First Major Tech Company to Hire Full-Time ASL Interpreters
Forbes (NY) (04/28/19) Kim, Sarah
Since 2018, Amazon has incorporated an American Sign Language (ASL) program that entails hiring interpreters as full-time employees. Amazon is known to be the only major tech company to provide this service on such a large scale for its deaf employees. Since the launch of the ASL Interpreter Program, more deaf and hard-of-hearing people have been seeking employment at Amazon, and more of them are finding placement at the company.
"Amazon provides interpreters from the minute a person becomes a serious candidate for employment," says Jennifer Mathern, one of Amazon's ASL interpreters. "The recruiter connects with the interpreting program, and from that point we take on the responsibility of connecting the deaf person with an interpreter," she says. "There is a pre-interview meeting where the interpreter and the deaf person can interact, see each other's signing styles, share work history, résumé information, vocabulary, and any work-related language and acronyms that are going to come up during the interview."
Mathern says this system can alleviate the stress of an interview for candidates. "It's tremendously reassuring for the candidate and ASL interpreter to become accustomed to each other before going into a job interview," she says. This way, the candidate can just focus on the interview with the peace of mind that the interpreter will relay the responses to the employers in the most representative and accurate way possible. "The candidate and interpreter have already met beforehand, and they're already familiar with each other, language-wise, so the candidate can just be their best successful self," Mathern says.
Each interpreter works with a team of two to three deaf employees, and they are also considered full-time employees of Amazon who receive all the benefits the company gives to other employees. This allows the interpreters to stay up-to-date with new terminology that emerges at Amazon and to keep up with the ever-evolving world of technology.
Mathern says the best part of her job is working with a company like Amazon that's "so forward-thinking" in their approach. "It's really rewarding to be at a place and at a time where Amazon is letting everyone sit at the table, giving everyone a chance to be a player, and letting people shine the brightest light on their work and help grow this program."
Peru Promotes Use of Indigenous Names in Public Records
The Guardian (United Kingdom) (04/04/19) Collyns, Dan
In Peru, indigenous people usually have two names: the one they were given at birth and use at home, and an "official" one that goes on public records. But that practice is starting to change, thanks to an initiative by Peru's national register, Reniec, to retrain registrars to accept names from the country's 48 indigenous languages.
For years, Peruvian registrars often refused to recognize indigenous names, favoring Hispanic names or English-sounding names like Roosevelt.
"Many registrars tended not to register indigenous names, so parents felt the name they had chosen wasn't valued," says Danny Santa María, assistant manager of academic research at Reniec. "We want to promote the use of indigenous names and recognize the proper way to write them on birth certificates and identification documents."
Peru's efforts are part of a global initiative to register the names for the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, which is trying to revive 2,680 at-risk indigenous languages around the world, 21 of which are native to Peru.
The country's rarest language, Jaqaru, has just 500 speakers in a remote mountainous province south of Lima. But Peru is also the cradle of the most widely spoken native language on the continent. Quechua is spoken by the Incas and is the native language of four million Peruvians, as well as four million in other South American countries.
Since 2012, Peru's Treasure of Names project has compiled dictionaries of names from the country's indigenous population.
Anoshka Irey, 37, an indigenous Harakmbut, decided to have the best of both worlds when she called her son, now four years old, Tey Adriano. "Tey means something hard, strong, and macho in Harakmbut, but he also has the Spanish name Adriano," says Irey, who is from the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in Madre de Dios. "I want him to be strong, but he also has to know about his culture, where he comes from, and not to be ashamed because we are indigenous."
Nancy Callañaupa, a 47-year-old teacher from Chinchero in Cuzco's Sacred Valley, would have preferred to have been called Phallcha Wilkanina, a name passed down from her grandparents. "Phallcha is a sacred flower that grows in our hills and Wilkanina is the holder of the sacred fire," she explains. "A name like that gives you power, a way to look at life," she says. "By contrast, when they give you any name, you don't know what it means, it's alien to you, and you don't identify with your roots. That's important to me because someone with roots can grow."
Government of Canada Announces Funding for Training to Enhance Access to Justice in Both Official Languages
ABC News (NY) (04/25/19)
Canadians expect that their official language should not be a barrier to accessing justice. This is why the government of Canada is working to enhance the capacity of Canada's justice system to offer legal services and information to French-speaking and English-speaking communities across the country.
David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced that the Department of Justice Canada is providing $329,105 in funding to McGill University's School of Continuing Studies through its Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund. This funding will support the development of an online program in legal translation that will allow jurists and translators across Canada to access training opportunities through distance education.
"Legal translation is an indispensable component in providing equal access to justice in both official languages," Lametti states. "I'm proud to support an initiative that will improve access to justice for French-speaking and English-speaking communities across Canada and promote the development of our professionals."
"McGill University's School of Continuing Studies is proud to contribute to greater access to justice in Canada through its newly enhanced comprehensive online curriculum and graduate diploma in legal translation," says Carola Weil, dean of the School of Continuing Studies. "Thanks to the generous support of the Ministry of Justice, we will be able to bring legal translation education to bilingual jurists and translators from coast to coast, and to help ensure that individuals enjoy the full benefits of Canadian democracy regardless of language."
Washington National Guard Military Intelligence Units Recognized for Language Program
U.S. Army (DC) (04/11/19)
Washington State's 341st Military Intelligence Battalion was recently awarded the best Command Language Program (CLP) among the five battalions in the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade.
"Throughout the past few years, the 341st Battalion and the state's CLP manager have invested many hours in developing a robust and relevant language program, so this award is a reflection of the dedication and effort involved," states 341st Military Intelligence Battalion Commander LTC Teresa Wenner, who is also a linguist. The battalion's CLP, which is managed at the Information Operations Readiness Center, is engineered to develop and execute unit language training plans, support the operational and contingency objectives for linguists, and build proficiency among members of the National Guard in counterintelligence, human intelligence, and signal intelligence.
"During this past year, the program has been further developed, adding two onsite computer labs at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and in Spokane at Fairchild Air Force Base," Wenner explains. "We also created an onsite library that has over 400 books, movies, interactive software, and magazines in multiple languages. The material is being continuously ordered through suggestions from cohort leads and is updated monthly."
One of the program's centerpieces is guaranteeing linguists access to materials and resources for self-study, in addition to reliable mentorship from a higher-level linguist. "The higher-level linguist holds their cohort accountable and provides a network of linguists to share information and upcoming language-related opportunities," Wenner notes.
Staff Sergeant Sergei Corduneanu, a crypto-linguist with Delta Company, was named the language professional of the year by the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade. He was chosen from among 1,050 linguists for the honor. "Staff Sergeant Corduneanu regularly works with other soldiers in his unit as part of our battalion's cohort program to improve the language, culture, and regional expertise of his fellow linguists," says Wenner. "He also seeks out opportunities to improve his language skills, including taking part in training events at home and overseas. He recently served as an interpreter while mobilized, supporting Special Operations Command-Forward Eastern Europe during Operation Atlantic Resolve."
As part of his recognition for the achievement, the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade language program is providing Corduneanu with a six-week opportunity to attend foreign immersion training for his many languages to enhance his language proficiency. This will include trips to Eastern Europe to immerse in the language, culture, and lifestyle.
ATA 2019 Elections: Announcement of Candidates
ATA will hold its regularly scheduled elections at ATA's 60th Annual Conference in Palm Springs, California, to elect a president-elect, secretary, treasurer, and three directors.
The candidates proposed by the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee are:
Additional nominations, supported by a written petition signed by no fewer than 60 voting members and the nominee's written acceptance statement, must be received by the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee by June 1. Acceptance statements and petitions should be submitted to Nominating and Leadership Development Committee Chair David Rumsey.
- President-elect (two-year term)
Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo
- Secretary (two-year term)
- Treasurer (two-year term)
- Director (three positions, three-year terms)
Candidate statements and photos will appear in the September/October issue of The ATA Chronicle and on ATA’s website.
Become an ATA Voting Member
ATA Associate Members who can demonstrate that they are professionally engaged in translation, interpreting, or closely related fields may apply for Voting Membership. How? Just complete and submit the ATA Active Membership Review application. No additional paperwork required. It's fast, free, and easy!
ATA Board Meeting Summary: April 13-14, 2019
The ATA Board of Directors met April 13-14, 2019 in Alexandria, Virginia. A summary of the meeting’s actions, discussions, and ongoing committee work is online in the Members Only area of the ATA website.
Read the latest ATA Board Meeting Summary!
The Board of Directors meets four times a year to establish policy, develop goals and objectives, and oversee ATA finances. To learn more about the Association’s governance, check out How ATA Works.
The next ATA Board of Directors meeting will be held August 3-4 in Denver, Colorado. All ATA members are welcome to attend.
Standing from left: Directors Evelyn Yang Garland, Tony Guerra, Meghan Konkol, Elena Langdon, Cristina Helmerichs, Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner, Eve Bodeux, Geoff Koby, Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo.
Seated from left: Secretary Karen Tkaczyk, President-Elect Ted Wozniak, President Corinne McKay, and Treasurer John Milan.
ATA Webinar: Managing the Stages of Your Small Business
Presenter: Dorothee Racette
Date: May 9, 2019
Time: 12 noon U.S. Eastern Daylight Time
Duration: 60 minutes
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved
Plan for your future success by examining five stages that occur in the life of a small business. Presenter Dorothee Racette will show you how to use the experience and skills you’ve gained to optimize business decisions, manage client portfolios effectively, and maximize your earning potential at each stage.
Click to learn more and register!
About the Presenter
Dorothee Racette, CT is an ATA-certified translator in German>English and English>German. After holding a number of ATA leadership positions, including serving as ATA president, she completed intensive training with the International Coach Federation and began her own executive coaching business. She now divides her time between translating and coaching.
Take the Challenge! Become an ATA-Certified Translator!
ATA Certification Exam Prep Workshop
June 8, 2019 | Houston, Texas
Get ready to sit for the ATA Certification exam by attending one or both of these exam prep workshop sessions.
What does ATA certification give you?
• Confirmation of professional level translation skills
• Potential for increased compensation and new business
• Greater visibility in the ATA Directory of Translators and Interpreters
• Recognition of a commitment to the profession and its ethical practices
What do the sessions cover?
How exams are graded, mistakes frequently made by test-takers, and tips to avoid common pitfalls. This opportunity to ask graders questions about the exam is invaluable.
Exam practice test included in registration!
Workshop registration includes an exam practice test. Practice test translations returned by May 10 will be graded and used to demonstrate the most common—and not so common—errors during the workshop. Translations received after May 10 will be graded and returned at the end of June.
- Session I (9:00am – 12:00pm)
Preparing for the ATA English>Spanish Certification Exam
Instructors: Sarita Gómez-Mola, CT and Diego Mansilla, CT
Learn more and register now!
Discounted registration rates available until May 24. Register now to save!
- Session II (2:00pm – 5:00pm)
Preparing for the ATA Spanish>English Certification Exam
Instructors: Andy Klatt, CT and Holly Mikkelson, CT
Learn more and register now!
Both workshops are limited to 25 participants to ensure individual attention and an optimal learning experience. These workshops will not be recorded.
Coming Up in the May/June Issue of The ATA Chronicle
ATA Adds Its Voice to Language Advocates in the Nation’s Capital
Over 160 world language advocates gathered in the Nation’s Capital in February to meet with members of Congress for Language Advocacy Day. (Caitilin Walsh)
Responding to Disaster: The 2017 North Bay Fires
The disastrous 2017 North Bay fires in California presented enormous challenges for disseminating timely and accurate information to the large, predominantly Hispanic, non-English-speaking population of Sonoma and Napa Counties. My experiences made it clear how a lack of preparation, at both the personal and community level, can exacerbate the challenges of a natural disaster. (Julie Burns)
International Literature: A Data-Driven Approach to Prioritizing Diversity
Why do books from some languages find their way into English while other cultures remain underrepresented? AmazonCrossing’s editorial director discusses what it takes for a book, author, and translator to reach readers in a new language. (Gabriella Page-Fort)
10 Simple Ways to Boost Your Website’s SEO
How many freelance translators and interpreters really take the time to adjust a few things behind the scenes to boost their website’s search engine ranking? (Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo)
ATA Law Seminar: Four Perspectives
One of the biggest challenges you face as a translator or interpreter is finding the intermediate-to-advanced continuing education you need to move ahead in your career. ATA’s Law Seminar provided just the kind of high-level, hands-on training attendees were looking for. (Bridget Hylak, Evelyn Yang Garland, Paul Merriam, and Chris Verduin)
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 2019 SmithBucklin