Welcome to the first edition of Speaking Out. Please make sure to email us your comments and contributions.
The opinions expressed in Speaking Out are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by ATIF. Article copyrights are held by the authors unless otherwise noted.
5th Immigration Conference
Debby Spector, Emmy Prieto, Elena Sheverdinova and Gio Lester, members of ATIF’s Founding Board, attended the conference held at MDC Wolfson campus last January 30th. The conference was very informative, the presenters were very generous with their knowledge, and fielded questions from the audience expertly. All attendees received a 113 pages glossary which was partially covered during the event.
Hon. Judge René Mateo singled out ATIF’s Elena Sheverdinova as one of the interpreters he knows he can depend on for ethical and expert delivery. Debby contributed information regarding procedures for addressing the court during an interpreting assignment so as not to confuse the interpreter’s speech with that of the witness.
The conference proved also to be a very good networking event. We got reacquainted with many colleagues, met new ones, and introduced ATIF to the group.
Steven Johnson and Humberto Cerna from Miami Dade InterAmerican Campus were on hand to meet our representatives. Professor Cerna confirmed that MDC will be joining ATIF shortly and looks forward to continuing the partnership experienced with the former ATA Florida Chapter. We were also invited to address the group once the conference was over, an opportunity anticipated by all.
Medical Interpreting: Are two champions too many?
– by Gio Lester
Medical interpreters have been in such high demand that now there are two strong champions at different stages of establishing a national certification for medical interpreters. Some think that is too many cooks in the pot. Others, like this writer, welcome their contributions as the best solution for our present situation.
A coalition that includes for profit and non-profit corporations – which have been working separately with the same objective- has come together and has already held a pilot test. Their collaboration is questioned by some who believe for-profit corporations should not be involved in the development of educational programs of this nature. This coalition, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (http://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/) is a 501c(3) non-profit organization, it brought its program to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence-ICE (formerly NOCA-National Organization for Competency Assurance) to ensure its quality and objectives.
Meanwhile, the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (http://www.healthcareinterpretercertification.org/) is a 501 c(6) non-profit organization, and they also sought the ICE for its expertise on credentialing. The CCHI is a coalition of non-profit organizations, and intends to hold its first test in the Fall of 2010.
Answering my own question above – Are two champions too many? – I say “No.” The College Board recognizes both the ACT and the SAT. The Consortium for Language Access in the Courts upholds four core values (http://www.ncsconline.org/D_Research/CourtInterp/CoreValuesFINAL.pdf): Fairness, Integrity, Service and Collaboration – and it is this last one that I want to concentrate on. Not all CLAC members have certification programs in place, members are supposed to assist one another in the development and implementation of certification programs, and some even recognize certifications issued by another member.
Based on the above example I say that the possibilities are all very exciting, and I welcome these two initiatives for healthcare interpreter certification.
ATIF Interpreters Forum
A very interesting discussion took place in the Interpreters Forum from September through December 2009. It dealt specifically with issues surrounding certification: the need for more exams, the pressing need to have more certified interpreters renew their certifications, how to ensure that the courts gave preference to certified professionals when these were available, what to do about circuit courts that did not follow the guidelines set forth by the Florida Courts, etc.
Sandra Arthur believes that judges are the ones who should enforce the guidelines in the courtroom by asking interpreters whether they are certified, and proceeding accordingly from there. Davor Zidovec, Claudia Villalba, and I, Gio Lester, agreed that we needed to voice our concerns, though a method was not defined. We also agreed that the need for a unified voice was most prevalent. The fact that many certified interpreters had not paid their dues was also brought up as an indication of either lack of professionalism or lack of confidence in the Florida Courts’ ability to enforce its guidelines.
It was suggested that interpreters start recording incidents of disregard for the Florida Courts guidelines. This log of violations with dates, circuit court, names (court personnel, interpreter used) and language could be used when contacting Circuit Court Judges or the proper authorities to report the violation. Maybe even send the logs with documentation to ATIF so we can address the issue as a united front.
Claudia pointed out a few things that we should all take into consideration when analyzing this issue. Among them are the fact that the person running the interpreters program in many circuits may not understand the importance of using only certified interpreters, the lack of support from the court administration, the lack of certified professionals within close proximity, etc. Claudia also mentioned budgetary constraints – a reality that has a direct impact on the fair administration of justice.
A few notable points regarding Florida and the use of certified interpreters in the courts:
♦ There is no mandatory written requirement that interpreters be used in all civil cases, rather only in those civil cases in which “a fundamental right is at stake.” Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.560(b)
♦ Recovery of costs: Trial courts are required to recover the cost of providing an interpreter to any party with the present ability to pay. (http://www.jud6.org/LegalCommunity/Interpreters.html)
ATIF believes that an open dialogue is always the best approach to finding a lasting solution. And the best way to start a dialog intended to bring about change is to document events in which proper procedure was not followed so a pattern can be identified and corrective measures taken. No one should lose sight that this is an educational process and as such it may take time for it to bear the desired fruits.
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