Thursday AM Panel: Hot-Button Topics in Interpreting

  • Mr. Jonathan Levy, Director of Language Services, CyraCom International

    • Addressing issues of Defense & Intelligence; Technology; Employment and Wages
    • Attempting to break these issues to digestible elements
      • The Need
        • Organizations and individuals both need services that are:
          • accurate
          • timely
          • affordable
          • in every language
        • Demand for interpretation services is growing and language diversity continually gets more complex
        • Dynamic
          • Quality – Need – Capacity
            • recruit – train – maintain – develop
              Dynamic
        • Challenges
          • Requests are often very challenging, like getting an albino parrot in Alaska
            • Reality is that people want the service when they need it
          • Some interpreters have experience but not necessarily training and may be resistant to new ideas of how to practice (The Maestro)
          • Also how to monitor interpreters to see if they are providing quality
          • Provision of interpreting services is complex
        • The goal
          • Started with high standards
            • based on conference and court interpretations
            • Very high standards – nice, but not very realistic
          • Reality was that interpretation was provided in a variety of ways, but not with a consistency in quality
            • Family members doing it
            • Some trained interpreters
          • Goal is to have interpreting services that do no harm (The Olive Garden standard ~ not a 5 star meal, but it won’t kill you)
            • This more realistic goal requires to rethink our approach to training and curriculum
        • Topics of Defense & Intelligence, Technology, and Employment & Wages are all interrelated
          • Defense/intelligence needs lead to new technologies; New technology like internet development lead for more need for defense/intelligence to have material interpreted;
  • Ms. Katharine Allen, Co-President, InterpretAmerica
    • Technology
    • Personal Experience – Works with InterpretAmerica
      • Work as a community interpreter in a town of 5,000
    • Elephant in the room is “What is…” the reality of what we are living through our culture and as a society
      • Change – our pace of change is one of the three big revolutionary changes
        • Agricultural revolution – happened over thousands of years  Going from hunter/gatherer to settled society
        • Industrial revolution – happened over 100 years – changed the landscape of human geography
        • Digital Revolution – 30 years – Most of the interpreting profession leaders are not digital natives (Only 5 people raised their hands that they were in their 20s.)
          • Mobile computing
            • 6 years ago, the iPhone was introduced
          • The Mobil Wave – How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything by Michael Saylor
          • Mobile Access – More people in the world have access to mobile technology than to a toothbrush
          • Entire professions are being digitized – the ability for us to deliver our communication skills have gone global
          • Mobile browsing:  Percentages of use of population in variety of continents
            • Asia – 17.84
            • Africa – 14.85
            • North America – 7.96
            • Europe – 5.13
          • Mobile Revolution – change in humankind around communication
            • Geographical barriers disappear
            • Entirely new forms of intra-species communication emerge
              • Language barriers remain
          • Need for quality interpreting, translation, and cultural competency is scaled to a global need from something that is a cottage industry
        • Community Interpreting is not only medical and legal
          • Legal aid
          • domestic violence
          • workers comp
          • refugee services
        • Workplaces we are in are changing
          • Health care settings are starting to incorporate mobile health
          • 62% of physicians in US have tablets
          • 71% of nurses are using smartphones
          • 40,000 medical apps
          • 59% of patients in emerging market use one mHealth app compared to 35% in the developed world
          • Health can be done in the field and then sent away
          • Apps do not have channel for language access
        • mHealth Africa Summit
      • Interpreting is expected to grow from 42% from 2010 to 220
        • Will have new job descriptions
        • Will also have traditional work models
        • Will need to work in a variety of technology platforms
          • These changes will happen with or without our involvement and better to have a say in the changes
        • Our professional associations need to address these issues
          • How do our ethics and standards apply across these technologies?
          • sierraskyit@gmail.com  (Katharine Allen, MA)
  • Ms. Melinda Paras, President and CEO, Paras and Associates
    • Formerly a community organizer
    • Sea change & what you can do about it
      • Development of remote interpretation
      • Based on call-center technology
        • AT&T as a monopoly with expensive switches
          • Only one Language line services
        • Sea change in the field is Voice over IP (VOIP)
          • Moved away from the telephone line switches
          • Now happens over Internet Protocol/data line
        • Now easier to get into the telephone services
          • Led to competition for language services which has suppressed price
          • Had a number of small companies that have now been bought up to have smaller number of large companies
        • What can interpreters/educators do about this picture?
          • Need to Organize to move from Powerless to Powerful
            • InterpretAmerica & IMIA – efforts to bring interpreters together to raise standards and have a collective effort
            • Critical Link conference – organizers of the conference
            • Political advocacy – efforts to change policy
            • Purchasers ~ noted Toronto LIHN – have purchasers talk about not the lowest price, but instead “a reasonable price for high quality”  Ask for high quality and reasonable price.   And best if can band together to purchase in quantity
          • Quality interpreting is the goal
          • Experience in California – Organized CEOs of Hospitals  – Healthcare Interpreter Network was hospitals working together
            • Providers can do that
            • Interpreter services paradigm requires partnership, but important to come to the table with power – and to get power, organizing is required
            • The more we pursue this in a conscious way, the more power we will have to fight for the quality and will have a reasonable wage that can support a family.
          • Organize and partner with those who share your values
          • Partner with those who share your ethics, your goals, and your standards
    • Mr. Jonathan Levy, Director of Language Services, CyraCom International
      • Defense/Intelligence
        • US Army is the largest classroom in the world
        • All the armed forces that have been active in conflict zones have been working with interpreters and are developing expectations of what working with interpreters means from theses conflict zones
          • Military leaders then become leaders in business, education, finance
        • As we organize, it is in our interest to understand the lived experiences in those conflict zones so we can reach out and ahve conversation about quality interpretation should be in the institutions where these former military leaders work.
        • Demand for interpretation services prior to 9/11 was low – Cold War model
          • Defense Language Institute – train people as “cryptological linguists” focused on Russian
          • After 9/11 – huge demand for new languages related to Afghanistan/Iraq & northern Africa
            • US Army does things very quickly and does it on a large scale
            • Also reached out to native speakers in the countries to provide these services
              • Initially no quality control or guidance
                • Call them “terps”
              • Might have had positive experiences or experiences that they couldn’t trust
              • Interpreters (many of them) have immigrated to US, Canada, or UK
                • They also bring their experiences from interpreting in a war zone and their habits need to be adjusted
                • An interpreter helped translate the Iraqi constitution and is now in California and can’t get a job
                • Army recruited heritage speakers from US and brought to war zones and paid a lot of money to be paid a lot of stuff
            • Important Point:  Reach out and listen to these groups because they are highly influential for agencies that are consuming interpreter service
          • US Army figured out that USA doesn’t do language or culture well
            • USA has an entropy toward monolingualism & monoculturalism
            • Developed a crashed course in cross-cultural communication workshop in 2 hours
              • Every soldier was being taught critical survival skills in the language where they are being deployed
              • Those cross-cultural communication skills can be applied in jobs as managers
          • Important for all of these people to be a part of the dialogue about quality interpreting services
        • How to Start Organizing: 
          • Join efforts in existence
          • Join professional associations ~ volunteers
            • Push leadership to be more forward thinking
          • Read outside your profession
          • Need to find partnership because we can’t do it alone
        • Dealing with different modes of provision of services
          • Will be a variety of approaches, still a need for face-to-face
          • Need to understand the Affordable Care Act in healthcare and the impact that will have on healthcare interpreting
          • Some hospitals in California have increased staff how are able to use it with remote interpreting so use of remote technologies does not necessarily equate into using “outside” resources