ATA Meets Troublesome Terps
Special times call for special podcasts, and that includes Episode 44 of The ATA Podcast!
In an epic sit-down, U.S.-based interpreters Elena Langdon and Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner met the hosts of Europe’s Troublesome Terps for a 90-minute roundtable-style discussion of interpreting issues on both sides of the "pond."
If you haven’t heard of the Terps podcast, it’s about time you did. Hosts Jonathan Downie, Alexander Drechsel, Alexander Gansmeier, and Sarah Hickey like to say it’s a podcast about the things that keep interpreters up at night. Mostly, it’s a podcast for interpreters, by interpreters about—you guessed it—interpreting.
There’s so much here not to miss! Check out the differences between European and U.S. court interpreter careers at minute 11:12, U.S. language access mandates at 33:35, California Assembly Bill 5 at 39:15, COVID-19 at 1:01:41, and remote simultaneous interpreting at 1:23:10.
Judge Orders Andrew Cuomo to Add Sign Language Interpreter to Coronavirus Briefings
Democrat and Chronicle (NY) (05/11/20) Campell, Joe
A federal judge has ordered New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to add sign language interpreting to his daily televised coronavirus briefings.
U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni of Manhattan issued a preliminary injunction this week requiring Cuomo's office to "immediately implement in-frame (American Sign Language) interpretation during his daily press briefings," which have been aired by state and national news networks for more than two months.
Caproni's injunction came after Disability Rights New York, an advocacy group, filed a lawsuit last month claiming Cuomo was violating the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people by failing to provide an interpreter on the televised feed.
The lawsuit sought an injunction requiring Cuomo to provide sign language interpreting viewable on television—not only on an online feed, as his office has provided since late March.
The three-sentence injunction granted the advocacy group's request. It did not detail Caproni's legal rationale, though it promised a formal legal opinion from the judge would soon follow.
A spokesperson for Cuomo said the governor's counsel was reviewing the injunction. "Responding to the community's concerns and balancing the need to reduce density during this pandemic, we set up a dedicated ASL livestream channel that is being viewed by thousands of New Yorkers," said Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo's senior adviser.
Caproni's order took effect immediately.
The state attorney general's office, which is representing Cuomo in the lawsuit, asked Caproni for a one-day reprieve, claiming the state was working through "technical issues" with adding an interpreter to the televised feed but expected to have them resolved.
Cuomo's office added a sign language interpreter to a video feed on the governor's website in late March amid criticism from advocates who said closed captioning was unreliable and insufficient. The lawsuit claimed New York was violating the rights of deaf and hard of hearing New York residents without high-speed internet access who rely on the televised feed for important information about the state's COVID-19 response.
In Canada, Virtual Parliamentary Proceedings Cause Spike in Injuries for Interpreters
The Star (Canada) (05/08/20) Bryden, Joe
In Canada, virtual sittings of the House of Commons and parliamentary committees are causing headaches for interpreters—literally. Coping with iffy audio quality, occasional feedback loops, new technology, and ministers who speak too quickly has resulted in a steep increase in interpreters reporting workplace injuries.
According to the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE), the union that represents some 70 accredited interpreters, injuries include acute acoustic shock, tinnitus, headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, mental fog, and inability to concentrate.
House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota said he has been doing his best to help by reminding ministers repeatedly to wear headsets, which provide better audio quality, and to speak more slowly. But that advice clashes with another change that has resulted from the move to virtual proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic: strict limits on the amount of time allowed to question ministers and for them to provide answers. To make the most of their five-minutes' worth of questions, some ministers are asking a series of rapid-fire questions, which can leave only a few seconds of matching time in which to respond.
Earlier in this month, interpreters and CAPE appealed to ministers on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, which is studying ways to move to a fully virtual Parliament, to help minimize the problems. CAPE President Greg Phillips told the committee that more injuries were reported by interpreters in April than in all of 2019.
Phillips said virtual proceedings are more of a strain on interpreters at the best of times, requiring them to work shorter shifts. That, combined with the steep increase in injuries, sick leave, and requests for transfer to non-virtual assignments during the pandemic has resulted in a shrinking pool of available interpreters. "We are getting close to our worst-case scenario," he told the committee.
In addition, due to technological challenges, interpreters are not able to work from home and must come to Parliament. But Phillips said about 40 of the 70 interpreters on staff are unable to come to work due to childcare and other COVID-19-related issues.
There are about 60 accredited freelance interpreters who can help fill the gaps. But even so, Phillips said they are getting "dangerously close" to being unable to keep up with the demand for interpreting services required to keep officially bilingual parliamentary proceedings operable.
Nicole Gagnon, an interpreter, told the committee that because ministers are using different technologies to connect with virtual proceedings, sound quality is often problematic and sometimes results in loud feedback loops that cause acute acoustic shock for interpreters wearing headsets. Gagnon explained that the symptoms of acoustic shock are similar to those caused by a concussion, adding that the effects are cumulative so it takes longer to recover each time it occurs.
Phillips said interpreters have also reported suffering from a "residual and long-lasting beating sound, pounding in sharp bursts in the ear drum."
Washington State Announces New Initiative to Expand Language Access to COVID-19 Information
The Islands' Sounder (WA) (04/30/20)
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee released a memo to state agencies detailing a new language access plan to guarantee that agencies can provide vital COVID-19 information to individuals with disabilities and with limited English proficiency.
"Information is one of the best tools we have in this fight against COVID-19," Inslee said. "But not every community has equal access to information. This plan helps ensure every Washingtonian is better able to stay safe and healthy by making sure our state agencies are providing information that is culturally relevant and accessible."
The plan, which was developed in coordination with the state's COVID-19 Joint Information Center, outlines a streamlined new process for agencies to provide vital information related to COVID-19 into the top 37 languages spoken in the state. Based on 2016 Office of Financial Management data, these top languages are spoken by at least 5% of the state's population. The plan also provides guidance for state agencies to establish over-the-phone interpreting services to allow real-time interpreting. "A number of communities are disproportionately impacted by this pandemic," said Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman. "One way we can reduce that injustice is by meeting our obligation to communicate in ways that are accessible and culturally and linguistically relevant."
The Department of Health has coordinated with the state's Joint Information Center to make COVID-19 health education materials available in at least 26 languages, and has produced a series of COVID-19 videos in American Sign Language. The state has also established a COVID-19 hotline that provides interpreting services at 1-800-525-0127.
Youth Activist Uses Quarantine to Start Nonprofit that Translates Climate Change Information from English into Other Languages
Forbes (NY) (05/12/20) Kart, Jeff
Sophia Kianni is only 18, but has already accomplished a lot while being cooped up at home during the pandemic. The McLean, Virginia, high school senior and activist has started a nonprofit called Climate Cardinals to translate climate and environmental information into other languages.
Kianni explained that her inspiration for Climate Cardinals came from years spent translating articles about global warming from English into Farsi for her relatives in Iran, where the news media barely covers climate change.
"I noticed that there was a lack of accessibility in the climate movement to those who didn't speak English, as most environmental nonprofits I followed on Instagram only posted graphics that were written in English," Kianni said. In addition, the toolkits, research, and informational content she found online were also almost exclusively in English or otherwise only translated into Chinese and Spanish. "Since then, I've connected with different activists and organizations who shared my concerns and worked with them to try and figure out how we could remedy this problem."
She is still working to get a website up and running, but has already received international attention and has more than 100 volunteers participating in the effort. Beyond translating from Farsi into English, Kianni said Climate Cardinals has volunteers in almost 30 countries.
Kianni wants to spread Climate Cardinals' message beyond family and friends, and said the nonprofit has partnerships with a Persian radio station that has 10 million followers. Kianni also has access to a network of more than 18,000 people to translate climate and environmental information via a connection with the International Student Environmental Coalition, Climate Cardinals' fiscal sponsor as a 501(c)(3).
The coalition connection means students who participate in the translations will earn community service hours for their work, which are accepted by institutions like the National Honor Society. "They will be able to publish and share their translations online so that other people can actually benefit from their work," Kianni said.
Climate Cardinals plans to reach out to connect with other groups that do similar work, such as Translators Without Borders, a nonprofit that offers language and translation support for humanitarian and development agencies and other nonprofits around the globe. There's also TED Translators, who subtitle TED Talks.
Kianni said she wants to make information available "about what climate change is, how climate change works, why climate change is so damaging, why it's so important that we act on climate change now, and how people can play their part in reducing their carbon footprint and investigating different solutions to climate change."
Utah Guard Soldiers Use Language Skills as Contact Tracers in Coronavirus Fight
Salt Lake Tribune (UT) (04/27/20) Carlisle, Nate
Lieutenant Colonel Scott Chalmers, who was once deployed to Afghanistan by the U.S. Army to help facilitate communication between soldiers and local residents, now oversees soldiers in the Utah National Guard's 300th Military Intelligence Brigade as they relay information about the coronavirus to citizens.
"Our job is to help the community wherever we're at," said Chalmers, who serves as the Brigade's administrative officer.
Twenty members of the Brigade are among the battalion of state employees who have volunteered to do contact tracing—reaching out via phone to people who might have been infected by a COVID-19 patient. Contact tracing is considered vital in the effort to contain the virus. About 300 state employees have volunteered to be trained to make the calls. It's assumed a number of the people who will be notified will not be native-English speakers.
The Brigade specializes in languages and provides a variety of translation services. Chalmers said many of the Brigade's soldiers learned languages while serving on missions for Utah's predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sends proselytizers to nations around the globe.
"This coronavirus mission is exactly what I would hope to do," said Captain Aaron Bybee, commander of the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion's Alpha Company, which is a component of the Brigade. Bybee is fluent in Portuguese and speaks a little Spanish. So far, the people he has called—whatever language they speak—have usually been scared when they learn they came in contact with someone exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. Even so, they appreciate the state letting them know. "So, it just helps us to be able to calm them and be that calm, confident voice they can rely on as we're making the calls," Bybee said.
The contact tracers are carrying out their jobs from home, with calls routed over a Utah Department of Health online system. "We are neighbors helping neighbors, trying to help people get through this crazy pandemic," Bybee said.
The Brigade has also assisted the Utah Department of Health in translating coronavirus documents into languages that include Spanish, Arabic, Nepali, Russian, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Burmese, Farsi, and Korean.
How a College Student Brought Michael Jordan to China
The Wall Street Journal (NY) (05/08/20) Cohen, Ben
Aiqi Sun, a freshman at the University of North Carolina (UNC), recently found himself working through a highly unusual question: how do you translate "the Bulls' traveling cocaine circus" in Mandarin?
As one of the Chinese translators for The Last Dance, the documentary about Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls, Sun was assigned the first episode and took on the challenge of conveying the team's extracurricular proclivities in another language. It turned out to be surprisingly universal. "'Traveling drug circus' is easy to understand if you're translating word by word," Sun said. "People understand that."
Making people understand was Sun's job on this documentary about a bit of recent sports history that was over before he was even born. But Sun is more familiar with Jordan's game and the Bulls' dynasty than most people his age. (Sun used to come home from school in Qingdao, China, and watch NBA highlights before dinner.)
After he picked UNC—Jordan's alma mater—and moved to Chapel Hill, Sun went searching for a job. The problem was that his student visa prohibited him from working off campus his freshman year, but he found an improbable solution—and some pocket change.
While scrolling through his social media feed one day, he came across a post from Yilun Huang, a graduate student in computer science at Arizona State University, who was looking for NBA fans interested in translation work. Sun responded and offered to help on an upcoming sports documentary that would ultimately go on to air on ESPN in the U.S. and Netflix in many countries.
The Last Dance, which was made with Jordan's approval, is a hit with sports enthusiasts around the world, especially in China. Sun explained that no player was more instrumental in making the NBA big in China than Jordan. China Central Television first started airing finals games during the reign of the Bulls—or, as the Chinese called them, the "Red Oxen"—and Jordan became nothing less than a legend.
After beginning work translating the first episode—which focuses on Jordan's time at UNC—Sun said he soon discovered that not everything would be as simple as translating phrases such as "traveling cocaine circus." The first issue he encountered was American slang. The second was the folksy language of Roy Williams, UNC's basketball coach.
When he looked at the script, Sun couldn't help but stare at a particular quote from the UNC basketball coach. This is what Williams said: "Michael Jordan is the only player that could ever turn it on and off—and he never frickin' turned it off." This is how it read in Chinese after Sun was done with his linguistic wrangling: "Michael Jordan is the only player in history who can decide his level of performance solely by himself—and he's always on fire."
Jordan's freshman year ended with him sinking the game-winning shot in the 1982 national championship. Sun's freshman year ended with him taking exams with only four other people in his dorm. (He stayed on campus after classes went virtual after the pandemic hit.) He plans to spend a few more weeks in North Carolina before attempting to return home for the summer—where he hopes to finally get to watch his own work.
California Senate Labor Committee Shelves SB 900
California’s Senate Bill 900, an amendment which would have exempted specified translators and interpreters from the ABC test under the state’s Assembly Bill 5, was shelved by the Senate Labor Committee on May 14.
The Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California (CoPTIC) stated that the withdrawal of the bill “… reinforces how little lawmakers know about and appreciate the work of translators and interpreters, even as they use the profession to do their work (interpreting at COVID-19 briefings and events) and keep their jobs (translation of ballots and voting info).” Click here to read CoPTIC’s comments on Twitter.
Follow ATA’s Advocacy Outreach on Assembly Bill 5
PPP Funds and Deductibility of Business Expenses
The IRS has issued Notice 2020-32 to provide guidance on the deductibility of business expenses for income tax purposes with respect to expenses that are paid by a covered loan under the PPP. The Notice clarifies that, since the amount of a PPP loan that is forgiven is nontaxable income, under section 265 (a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, otherwise allowable deductions are not allowed if the deduction is allocable to tax-exempt income, i.e., prevents a double tax benefit.
Normally, forgiven debt results in taxable income as the release from repayment of a legally binding debt obligation results in a financial benefit that should be taxed. The Notice cites existing case law, and the lack of provisions to the contrary in the CARES Act, to justify its guidance.
While it is logical that the IRS would not grant a dual benefit, i.e., nontaxable income and tax-deductible expenses, some members of Congress disapprove of the IRS’s decision. Senator John Cornyn has sponsored the Small Business Expense Protection Act (Senate Bill 3612), which would clarify that business expenses paid with forgiven PPP loans would be tax-deductible.
ATA members who have received PPP funds should keep careful track of how such funds are used.
Even if the proposed relief is approved by Congress, recipients must be able to demonstrate to the SBA that the loan proceeds were used for covered expenses during the covered period. There is also discussion in Congress about amending this provision of the CARES Act by extending the covered period and/or revising the SBA rule on the proportion of the loan proceeds that must be used for payroll (which is not in the CARES Act).
ATA members are encouraged to contact their congressional representatives and senators in support of the Small Business Expense Protection Act. Click here to find your legislator.
ATA Elections 2020: Candidates Announced
ATA will hold its regularly scheduled elections at the ATA61 Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts (October 21-24, 2020). The Association's Voting Members will elect three directors, each for a three-year term.
The candidates proposed by the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee are:
Director (three positions, three-year terms)
Further nominations, supported by a nominee's written acceptance statement and petition signed by no fewer than 60 voting members, must be received by June 1. Acceptance statements and petitions should be submitted to Nominating and Leadership Development Committee Chair David Rumsey.
- Robin Bonthrone
- Veronika Demichelis
- Antonio Guerra
- Manako Ihaya
- Elena Langdon
- Lorena Ortiz Schneider
Candidate statements and photos of the candidates will appear in the September/October issue of The ATA Chronicle and on ATA’s website.
It's Not Too Late to Enter the ATA School Outreach Contest
Did you share your translation or interpreting career with students earlier this year? Did you capture the moment with a photo? Then you're all set to enter ATA's School Outreach Contest for a chance to win a free registration to ATA's 61st Annual Conference.
But don't delay! The contest deadline is July 18, 2020.
For more information about the contest, sharing your career, and how to take a winning photo, listen to Episode 11 of The ATA Podcast with Birgit Vosseler-Brehmer and Matt Baird.
Free Monthly ATA Members-Only Webinar
This month’s free on-demand webinar is an oldie but goodie! Don’t miss it!
Revisers: Invisible But Important
Revision is one of your most powerful quality assurance tools for delivering a perfect translation—and a great way of proving that you are worth the money.
Watch this webinar to learn about the three types of revision, the limits of self-revision, and strategies for pricing and performing this crucial "value-added" step in a translation project.
Wait! Not a translator? Think this one isn't for you? Think again. We are all called upon to write professionally at some point in our careers. It makes sense to be prepared to revise what we write. Remember, our language skills are on display in everything we do.
About the Presenter
Jonathan Hine is an ATA-certified Italian>English translator, popular conference presenter, and owner of Scriptor Services. He has been writing, interpreting, and translating professionally since 1962. Jonathan is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Virginia.
Continuing Education Credit
Each free members-only webinar is pre-approved for one ATA continuing education credit, unless otherwise stated. After watching the webinar, please complete the Free ATA Webinar Continuing Education Verification form for your records.
More Spoofing, Phishing, and Scamming
Members of ATA's Business Practices Listserv are reporting new scam email job offers.
Text messages offering job opportunities are also still floating around. Unlike email job offers of old with grammatical and spelling mistakes, these are quite good. Frequently, there is a mention of the translator having been found through a "portfolio published on ATA's website." The email recipient is invited to an online interview for the position. In some cases a well-known business is cited as the employer and a hiring manager is mentioned by name. Even an hourly rate and job requirements have been included.
And don’t forget spoofing traps. Spoofing is only apparent when you analyze the entire email header. Click to learn how to display email headers.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Get informed! ATA's blog The Savvy Newcomer recently published a post with some of the latest scam attacks. See Look Out for These Red Flags in Client Communications. Not yet following The Savvy Newcomer? Then you're missing out on one of the best resources available to translators and interpreters—veterans and newcomers alike! Click now to take a look.
More Resources for Information on Scams
Not on the ATA Business Practices Listserv?
Questions, answers, suggestions, recommendations, the latest scams, why I do it, why I don't do it, why I disagree —it's all here on the ATA Business Practices listserv. Open to ATA members only. Click here to find out more about the listserv and the ATA Business Practices Education Committee in the May/June 2020 issue of The ATA Chronicle.
Why Should You Whitelist ATA?
ATA advocacy updates, webinar and podcasts announcements, division news, Chronicle and Newsbriefs notices—the time to stay connected is now! Be sure to whitelist ATA by adding email@example.com, to your address book, safe sender list, or accepted exceptions.
In the May/June Issue of The ATA Chronicle
ATA Members and the CARES Act
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the “CARES Act,” provides emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a summary of the provisions that are pertinent to ATA members. (Ted R. Wozniak)
ATA’s Statement on California Senate Bill 900 Amending AB 5
An amendment to AB 5 has been introduced to the California Legislature. While SB 900 is an improvement on the situation under AB 5, ATA believes there are several issues that should be addressed and resolved before ATA can fully support the bill. (Ted R. Wozniak)
InterpretAmerica 2020: A Timely Response to an Unprecedented Crisis
In early March, when it became clear that the world was headed toward global lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the interpreting profession was thrown into nearly universal chaos. To respond to the crisis, InterpretAmerica held a two-hour online panel to discuss how to ensure professional interpreting services during the pandemic and beyond. (Katharine Allen and Barry Slaughter Olsen)
Marketing Services during a Pandemic and Economic Crisis
I’ll admit that I initially questioned whether I should be marketing my services during a global health and economic crisis, but I quickly changed my mind. Why? Because our clients still need us, and their clients need us. Plain and simple. (Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo)
Interpreting in the Face of a Pandemic
As the world hunkers down against COVID-19, those of us who work in language access services face an abruptly-changed environment. (Carol Shaw)
Going Institutional: A Primer on Translation for International Organizations
Translating for international organizations involves a steep learning curve, but it also offers an environment of steady work and predictable income, as well as daily opportunities to be on top of world affairs and to work on assignments that make a difference. (Izaskun Orkwis)
Heritage Speakers in Health Care Interpreting: A Case Study in Virtual Training
Two experienced trainers share some lessons learned from the efforts of a three-month training program at Barton Health in South Lake Tahoe, California, to prepare bilingual employees who are Spanish heritage speakers to enter the field of health care interpreting. (Julie Burns and Tracy Young)
What the Business Practices Education Committee Is Doing for ATA Members
ATA’s Business Practices Education Committee offers many opportunities for members to get involved, give back to the Association, work with fellow members, and broaden their professional network. (Michael J. Engley)
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 2020 SmithBucklin