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ATA Statement on the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

ATA is monitoring developments related to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its impact on translators and interpreters around the world and, more recently, here in the United States.

Language professionals face considerable uncertainty right now. Many of us are freelancers who don’t have paid time off. When we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Disruptions caused by Covid-19 are already adversely affecting our livelihoods. In addition, some of us, like medical interpreters, are on the front lines and have to make tough decisions that involve weighing our own safety against the need to provide essential services.

ATA is cognizant of this reality. When opportunities arise, the Association will advocate on our members’ behalf. We are currently following H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which passed the House last week, to determine whether and how the provisions may apply to our members. In addition, Headquarters has begun taking preventive measures, which include having our staff work remotely.

We will continue to stay abreast of the situation and keep members informed of issues and impacts related to our profession.

Please contact us with your questions and concerns, and we’ll do our best to provide reliable information, guidance, and recommendations. ATA is here to support you.
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Industry News

Translator Accused of Revealing U.S. Secrets to Iran
The New York Times (NY) (03/04/20) Goldman, Adam; Barnes, Julian

A U.S. military translator who was based in Iraq has been charged in federal court with passing the names of U.S. informants to people linked to Lebanon's Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia group.

Prosecutors said the contractor, Mariam Taha Thompson, revealed to a Lebanese official with ties to Hezbollah the names of foreign informants and details of the information they provided to the U.S. The identities of such informants are among the government's most closely held secrets. Law enforcement officials said Thompson endangered the lives of the sources as well as those of military personnel.

Thompson was living in Erbil, Iraq, working on contract as a linguist. Investigators discovered that as tensions between the U.S. and Iran increased in the final days of December, so did Thompson's activity on classified systems. For the next six weeks, she accessed secret government files that contained information on American intelligence sources and government cables. In interviews with the FBI, Thompson admitted that she illegally shared classified information with the Lebanese official.

The U.S. Department of Justice reported that Thompson accessed dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information, and photographs of the human assets, as well as operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the U.S. government.

Court officials suggested that the potential loss of classified information was grave and that the prosecution was one of the most serious recent counterintelligence cases they had seen. Several top national security prosecutors as well as Timothy Shea, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, appeared in court earlier this month as Thompson made an initial appearance before a judge. "If true, this conduct is a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the U.S. military," stated John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security. "This betrayal of country and colleagues will be punished."

The recruitment of a military contractor with access to such important secrets shows the strength of the intelligence operations of Iran and its proxy forces. American officials have long warned that Tehran's intelligence work should not be underestimated.

The judge has ordered Thompson to be held until a detention hearing later this month. She faces three charges of violating espionage laws. Under the statute, she could face up to life in prison and possibly the death penalty if the information she revealed led to the death of any of the informants.
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Investigation over the Use of Interpreters in Hospital Settings in Australia's Northern Territory
Australian Broadcasting Corp. News (Australia) (02/25/20) Roberts, Lauren

The annual report of the Health and Community Services Complaints Commission for Australia's Northern Territory highlighted several incidents in 2018-2019 concerning the use of interpreters in hospitals.

In one case, a man who underwent high-risk surgery failed to understand the consent papers he signed or the details of his treatment, which prompted an independent probe. This man, referred to as Mohammed, was from another country but had lived and worked in Australia for more than a decade. "Mohammed expected that he would be much better after the surgery, but this is not what happened," the report stated. "He complained to the Commission that something had gone wrong during the operation and that the doctors had not told him what had happened."

The Commission investigated Mohammed's complaint and found that while there were no problems with the medical care he received, his expectations of the surgery had been "unrealistic." Because an interpreter had not been used, Mohammed had not understood many of the details that doctors had discussed with him before and after surgery. "This happened because the health services staff overestimated Mohammed's English skills," the Commission stated.

This was not the only complaint the Commission received involving an interpreter not being used with someone whose native language was not English.

Gina (not her real name) notified the Commission after her brother died in the hospital. She said she had been visiting him and thought he was improving, but when she went to the hospital to pick him up, she learned he was "very sick." He died a few days later. "Gina's first language is not English, so she did not understand what had happened," the Commission concluded after investigating the matter. "The problem was that Gina did not understand the severity of her brother's illness because no one had spoken to her with an interpreter present." The Commission arranged a meeting with health staff using an interpreter, and Gina agreed her complaint had been settled after she understood what was wrong with her brother.

The Commission stated in its annual report that it had closed an investigation into the use of interpreters, since it potentially duplicated the findings of a probe performed by the Northern Territory Ombudsman, but pledged that it would "remain vigilant about this issue."

The Northern Territory Top End Health Service (TEHS), which provides healthcare services in remote primary medical clinics, stated it has been working with the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) and Translating Interpreting Service (TIS). A spokesperson for TEHS said interpreting services were available to patients in person or by phone, with TIS offering interpreters across 150 language and AIS supporting patients to access interpreters in more than 100 languages.

"Where face-to-face services are not available, all clinicians are responsible for ensuring clients can access an interpreter via phone," the TEHS spokesperson said. Since Mohammed and Gina's complaints were received, he said TEHS had made changes to "improve communication safety" with all their patients, including creating the role of a "coordinating safety officer" to improve access and engagement with AIS. "These cases and others like them serve as valuable learning opportunities for both the health service and its employees," the spokesperson said. "As a health service, TEHS highly values the feedback we receive from our patients and uses this to continuously improve both our clinical care and systems and processes."
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Inuvik Stop Signs to Include Indigenous Languages
CBC News (Canada) (03/03/20) d'Entremont, Danielle

A new multilingual stop sign project in the town of Inuvik in Canada's Northwest Territories (NWT) is underway to promote the importance of Indigenous language preservation.

The community-based initiative has created stickers for the stop signs in town, translating them into Inuvialuktun and Gwich'in. The town approved the project at a recent meeting, with more signs to be added in the coming weeks. Mabel English, a local elder who teaches the Gwich'in language at Inuvik's Children First Center, reviewed the Gwich'in translations. She believes the project is a good way to preserve the languages for all residents, no matter what language they speak. "I think everybody should start learning the language," she said. "Everybody, not only Gwich'in people, so they can communicate with one another."

Inuvik isn't the first NWT community to undertake such a project. In 2017, stop signs in Fort Smith, NWT, were replaced with signs that show "stop" in four languages: English, French, Cree, and Chipewyan. Beverly Amos, a language consultant at the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Center, said the project is part of a wider effort to add translations on all street signs in town. "Start with a stop sign, it opens up other areas in our culture and a way of saying and doing things that our elders taught us a long time ago," she said.

Grant Hood, Inuvik's senior administrative officer, said the town spent about two years discussing the signs with community members, focusing on logistical challenges like safety issues concerning the reflection of lettering and working with different mapping firms. "We wanted to be respectful of what the traditional languages are, and we'll do everything that we can," he explained. "But some logistics come into play as to what is the best way to go about it."

Amos said posting translations on all of Inuvik's street signs would be an important step toward reconciliation. "It would show publicly that our language is still here. Languages in our communities are still here and we still remember the people that streets are named after—just like anywhere else."

Hood said Inuvik hopes to start changing the remaining street signs over this next year, in addition to correcting Indigenous word misspellings on current signs.
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Google Technology Reducing Language Barriers at Airport
ABC News (NY) (02/21/20) Powell, Drew

The Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport in Amarillo, Texas, has invested in technology aimed at helping non-English-speaking travelers. Google Translation devices have been placed at four strategic locations inside the airport that will offer assistance quicker to travelers who need questions answered.

"Just last year we had about 365,000 passengers use the airport, but not all of them speak English," said David Sebastian, the airport's director of security. Sebastian added that a large number of these travelers go on to international destinations from a larger city like Dallas, Houston, Denver, or Las Vegas. He says the translation devices will come in handy as they're programmed with 29 languages that will greatly improve communication between the traveler and the airline. Currently, the devices are located at the ticket check-in counters at American Airlines, United Express, and Southwest Airlines.

"This can be a much faster experience for travelers," said Michael Conner, the airport's director of aviation. "We don't have to find someone who can speak a language that we may not even have here at the airport. The 29 languages available should cover a wide range of people from all different countries."

"We have international travelers literally every day," said Amarillo Travel Information Center Supervisor Daphne Adkins. "This is a great opportunity to not only provide information for them, but to makes them feel welcome and appreciated."

Conner said the airport plans to add more devices in the future and install them at rental car counters and at the TSA checkpoint.
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Alliant Professional Liability Insurance

ATA News

ATA Welcomes ALC’s Support for a T&I Exemption to AB5

The Association of Language Companies (ALC) has issued a statement advocating for the independence of all professional linguists and for the just application of laws in regard to worker classification among language service industry professionals. In the statement, ALC addresses California Assembly Bill 5, asserting, “… it is categorically wrong to change the status of virtually all workers in the industry to that of employees, thereby taking away their rights to work as independent contractors." ALC calls for California legislators to amend AB5 by enacting an exemption for professionals in the language industry in order to restore the freedom of choice to work as independent contractors or employees.

Click to read ALC’s Statement of Position on Worker Classification and the Language Services Industry.

ATA supports ALC’s advocacy for a specific exemption in AB5 for translators and interpreters.

How can you support the call for a T&I exemption to AB5?
Do not underestimate the power of your vote. Politicians depend on you to stay in office. Nothing can equal the pressure individual translators and interpreters can bring to bear on their elected officials.
  • Get involved in standing up for our profession!
    Start here: What Can I Do about Mandatory Employee Classification Legislation in my State. This how-to advocacy handout is a step-by-step action plan to show you how to present your case to your state lawmakers.

    The document includes how to find your representatives and sample talking points to use in letters or conversations with legislators.

  • Get out there!
    Remember, you have the power. Use it!

  • Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California
    In September, ATA joined forces with other T&I organizations to request an exemption from AB 5 for translators and interpreters. The association is now actively supporting the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California to continue advocating for the exemption.
ATA Statement on California SB 875
Catch up with ATA's stand on the request to exempt translators and interpreters from AB5. Read now.
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ATA Members-Only Discount on AB5 Webinar

ATA has secured a 50% discount for ATA members to view ALC’s on-demand webinar "AB5 and the Implications for Business.” Click here for details.
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New! ATA Strategy Committee

The ATA Board approved the formation of a Strategy Committee at its February 8-9 meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Why establish a strategy committee?
The language services market is constantly evolving, growing, and adapting to changes in technology and economic forces. ATA and its members are affected by these changes—we need data and analyses to make informed decisions about the industry, the Association, and individual members’ livelihoods.

At present, there is no ATA committee that is systematically keeping track of this information, analyzing it, or reporting on it. The Strategy Committee would fill this gap, performing the essential functions of assisting and advising the Board and providing information to members, as a benefit.

The ATA Strategy Committee’s duties will include:
  • Gathering information on the language services market and related technologies
  • Analyzing data, assessing changes that might affect ATA and its members
  • Reporting on findings to the Board and the membership
  • Making recommendations
The Board will make decisions related to the new Strategy Committee’s composition, potential deliverables, reporting frequency, and preliminary issues at its next meeting in Alexandria, Virginia (April 18-19). Stay tuned for details!
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It’s Hard to Get Found If You’re Not There!

More than 70% of members who list their services in the ATA Directory of Translators and Interpreters report getting work through their listing.

You won't be one of them if you haven't completed your Directory profile questionnaire.

This ATA member benefit only works when you do!

Login to Members Only now and create your Directory listing. If you are already listed, make sure your listing is up to date. Add new skills, attach your résumé, change keywords—a Directory listing is not a “set-it-up-and-forget-about-it” thing.

Ten tips to make the most of your ATA Directory listing

  • Keep your contact information current
  • Review your listing often to add new information
  • Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation
  • Include non-English language combinations
  • Include all your areas of specialization
  • Include your Skype contact information
  • Attach your résumé to highlight skills and accomplishments
  • Keep the tool section of your profile updated
  • Experiment with different keywords in "Additional Information" section
  • Add your photo for a little personality and style
Learn more about creating your ATA Directory profile.
Read "Are You Getting the Most from Your ATA Directory Profile?" in The ATA Chronicle.

Attention Interpreters!
Interpreters now have more ways to get found in ATA's Directory of Translators and Interpreters! Check out these new options to categorize your services, experience, and expertise.
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New York University MS in Translation

Upcoming ATA Webinars in April and May

Check out these upcoming ATA webinars. Remember, members save 25% on registration, and every registration includes an on-demand recording of the live event!
  • Personal Branding 101
    Presenter: Ben Karl
    Date: April 7
    Time: 12 noon U.S. Eastern Daylight Time
    Duration: 60 minutes
    Level: All
    CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved

    Personal branding is no longer the exclusive domain of celebrities like Oprah, Madonna, and Kimye. It is something that everyone—especially freelance professionals—can use to drive their business. Let Presenter Ben Karl will show you how! [more]

    Register now! ATA Members $45 Non-Member $60
  • Becoming a Court Interpreter in California
    Presenter: Jennifer De La Cruz
    Date: April 25
    Time: 2 pm U.S. Eastern Daylight Time
    Duration: 60 minutes
    Level: All
    CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved

    What does it take to work as an interpreter in the California court system? Attend this webinar to find out! You'll learn what knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed, the basic structure of the California courts, resources to prepare for the proficiency exams, and exercises to evaluate your readiness to become certified or registered in the state. [more]

    Register now! ATA Members $45 Non-Member $60

  • How to Utilize LinkedIn to Reach Your Ideal Clients
    Presenter: Madalena Sanchez Zampaulo
    Date: May 7
    Time: 12 noon U.S. Eastern Daylight Time
    Duration: 60 minutes
    Level: All
    CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved

    Many freelancers set up a LinkedIn account because they know it’s what professionals do. Then, they promptly let their profile collect dust—and wonder why it doesn't bring in much business. Is this you? Don’t let the marketing power of LinkedIn slip through your fingers! Attend this webinar to learn how a few key strategies can make a differece in reaching your ideal clients and expanding your referral network. [more]

    Register now! ATA Members $45 Non-Member $60
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ATA Members-Only Free Webinar

Don’t miss ATA's Members-Only free webinar for March. This is how your membership works for you!

Creating and Optimizing a Website for Your Freelance Business
When it comes to attracting serious clients online, it's hard to beat a well-designed website with search engine optimization. In the past, this often meant paying a lot of money to a professional web designer. No longer! Watch this webinar for an overview of website design, templates, and hosting. Plus you'll learn what kind of content you will—and won't—want to include. The webinar wraps up with recommendations for search engine optimization tools and plug-ins.

Don't forget about continuing education credit
Each free ATA Members-Only webinar is pre-approved for one ATA continuing education credit, unless stated otherwise.

How to record your CE points?
After watching a Members-Only webinar, please complete the Free ATA Webinar Continuing Education Verification form for your records. It will serve as your certificate of continuing education if your CE record is selected for audit at the time of your ATA recertification.
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In the March/April Issue of The ATA Chronicle

Studying the Emotional Aspects of Online Learning
Emotional aspects in learning processes have been considered (at best) of secondary importance, but they’re essential for any learning to take place. (Diego Mansilla)

Creating New Terminology: Do Translators Really Do This?
Technical material is authored to achieve clarity. Therefore, new terms must not be coined randomly. This article will introduce readers to the principles of term formation covered in international standard ISO 704 Terminology Work-Principles and Methods. (Barbara Inge Karsch)

Why You Should Care about Terminology Management
If proactive terminology management before starting a translation is currently not part of your routine, here are some compelling reasons to change your ways. (Uwe Muegge)

Bring Your “A” Game to Video Game Localization
Video games require translators to take so much more than the translatable text into account. From in-game scripts to packaging and marketing, video games offer a broad spectrum of content guaranteed to keep translators engaged and entertained—and challenged! (Marina Ilari)

Subtitling and Closed-Captioning Software
What should you be looking for in audiovisual software? After looking at what’s come before, we’ll review some of the features that are a must for translators working with subtitling and closed-captioning software. (Deborah Wexler)

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.
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News summaries © copyright 2020 SmithBucklin

March 17, 2020

In This Issue

ALC Supports Exemption
Members-Only Discount
New! Strategy Committee
It's Hard to Get Found
Upcoming Webinars
Members-Only Free Webinar
The ATA Chronicle

Next ATA Board Meeting

Alexandria, VA
April 18-19, 2020

ATA Members Only

Free March Webinar!
Creating and Optimizing Your Website

Click to watch!

ATA Webinar Series

Understanding Remote Simultaneous Interpreting
March 18
12 noon EDT
Register now!

Personal Branding 101
April 7
12 noon EDT
Register now!

Becoming a Court Interpreter in California
April 25
2 pm EDT
Register now!

LinkedIn Strategies to Reach Clients
May 7
12 noon EDT
Register now!

Your Profession Needs You!

Calendar of Events

ATA School Outreach Contest Deadline
July 18, 2020
Learn more

ATA Certification Workshop
August 15, 2020
Atlanta, GA
Register now

ATA 61st Annual Conference
October 21-24, 2020
Boston, MA
Registration opens July 2020

XXII FIT World Congress
December 3-5
Varadero, Cuba
Save the date!

ATA Certification Exam
Upcoming schedule

See ATA's Online Calendar for translation & interpreting events around the world.

The ATA Chronicle
The ATA Chronicle March/April 2020
Middlebury Institute of International Studies ACTFL Lead with Languages Initiative