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Standards Issued for Healthcare Interpreter Services
August 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles, News

By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: February 19, 2011

All U.S. healthcare organizations must be able to talk with patients about their care in a language they can understand, according to new Joint Commission standards.

That involves hiring interpreters, ensuring proper training, identifying patient communication needs, and keeping a written policy that emphasizes respect of cultural values, according to a white paper written by the Commission “in conjunction with Language Line Services” — a telephone-based interpretation service.

The white paper notes that the company’s “customer regulatory readiness program” — “much of which is free” — includes consultation, support, and instructional materials.

The standards are being implemented in a one-year pilot phase, according to the Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that surveys and accredits hospitals.

More patients with limited English proficiency are seeking treatment at U.S. healthcare institutions, and these facilities have tried to accommodate them by adding bilingual staff, hiring interpreters, and using telephone and video conferencing interpretation services, according to the white paper.

Yet they haven’t been able to keep pace with the “growing needs of an increasingly diverse patient community” — nearly 3,000 unexpected deaths, catastrophic injuries, and other sentinel events have been tied to communication breakdowns, the report said.

In addition, patients with limited English proficiency “suffer a greater percentage of adverse events as a result of such language breakdowns,” the report noted.

This happens because hospitals typically rely on patients’ family members and untrained bilingual staff for translation, the agency says.

So the Joint Commission created a set of standards for ensuring that all patients can receive appropriate information about their care, which calls for healthcare organizations to:

  • Define and confirm staff interpreters‘ qualifications
  • Document interpreters‘ proficiency and training
  • Identify each patient’s communication needs
  • Keep a written policy on patients’ rights that includes being respectful of cultural and personal values

The white paper offers tips for ensuring compliance with the new Joint Commission standards:

  • Implement a language plan that establishes access at every patient point of contact
  • Implement ongoing training and education for interpreters
  • Update existing protocols to incorporate the language standards

The Joint Commission says it will conduct unscheduled accreditation surveys every three years to monitor compliance with the standards.

Hospitals that come up short risk jeopardizing the accreditation process, incurring unexpected costs, and taxing limited resources, the report said.

It noted that the greatest consequence of failing to enforce the standards is the “potential delivery of substandard care that could lead to irreversible harm caused solely by the inability to communicate.”

Primary source: Joint Commission
Source reference:
Arocha O, Moore DY “The new Joint Commission standards for patient-centered communication” Joint Commission 2011.
Interpreters help provide court access
August 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles, News

Debbie Wachter Morris
New Castle News
July 22, 2011

NEW CASTLE — There are times in the Lawrence County courts when a participant doesn’t speak or understand English.

Then the courts are responsible for hiring an interpreter for the proceeding.

Such was the case earlier this month in the court of District Judge Melissa A. Amodie, where a Spanish translator was needed to assist a man at his hearing for a traffic offense.

Translators of various languages are used in the courts to serve those who cannot speak English.

The cost is borne by the courts, and it can get quite expensive, according to Mary Kelly, a court adminstrator’s secretary who arranges for their appearances.

Kelly noted it’s a rare occurence in the district courts, such as Amodie’s. But she said she arranges for interpreters about twice a month for common pleas court — mostly for family cases.

“I think we’re going to start seeing more of it,” Amodie said.

She explained that, by law, the courts have to provide intepreters, because everyone has to have fair access to the courts.

She recalls once having arraigned a woman by telephone, who spoke only Russian and needed a translator.

It can be a difficult process, because the courts have to talk directly to the defendants, instead of addressing the interpreter, Amodie said. Then the interpreter translates what the judge or other court officials say.

“We’re lucky we haven’t had to do it more,” she said, because of the cost.

The interpreters must be specially trained and certified through the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, explained Michael Occhibone, Lawrence County’s court administrator.

“It’s getting to be more frequent,” he added.

“Once they are on a case, they stay with a case,” he said of the interpreters. And in the event a case has multiple proceedings, the interpreter is needed for all of them.

Although the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts has a list of translators on its Web site, Kelly arranges for them through an agency called Languages by Nicole in Industry, Pa., which has all state-certified interpreters.

The cost is $75 per hour, plus mileage.

The translator’s recent bill for the traffic hearing at Amodie’s office was $292.71.

There are times Kelly also must hire someone certified in sign language, and she uses a different Pittsburgh agency for those interpreters.

She has a Vietnamese interpeter arranged for this week and a Cambodian translator for Aug. 29, both for family court.

Other interpreters available speak Arabic, Armenian, Cantonese, French, German, Hindi, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog and Thai.

Kelly noted she has to keep close watch over when court proceedings are canceled or postponed so she can notify the interpreter as soon as possible, because they require 48 hours notice for cancellation. Otherwise their charge applies.

She recalled a day last winter when there was a heavy snowfall and she was forced to cancel the translator for the proceeding within 24 hours. She said the courts were billed for it anyway.

Best Careers 2011: Interpreter/Translator
August 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles, News

As one of the 50 Best Careers of 2011, this should have strong growth over the next decade

By Alexis Grant

Posted: December 6, 2010

The rundown:

Pharmaceutical inserts, instruction manuals, and textbooks—these are just a few of the documents that translators rework in English or other languages. At courthouses around the country and conferences throughout the world, interpreters help people of different tongues communicate. While both interpreters and translators convert one language into another, interpreters work with the spoken word, and translators the written word. But choosing this occupation means learning more than a foreign language; you also must thoroughly understand the subject you’re communicating about. You’ll relay not only words, but complicated concepts and ideas, as well as the cultural subtleties that accompany them.
Click here to find out more!

Interpreters and translators specialize in a variety of fields, including medical, judiciary, literary, or sign-language. About a quarter are self-employed, and many translators work from home.

[See a list of The 50 Best Careers of 2011.]

The outlook:

Excellent, although prospects vary by language and topical specialty. Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to increase 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Labor Department. Demand is driven by an increasingly global economy, as well as an increasingly large population of non-English speakers in the United States.

Interpreters and translators held more than 50,900 jobs in 2008—although the actual number is likely much higher because many people in this field work sporadically. Urban areas, especially Washington, D.C., New York, and cities in California, provide the most employment possibilities, especially for interpreters. Interpreters and translators of Spanish should have solid opportunities because of expected increases in the Hispanic population in the United States, and demand is also expected to be strong for interpreters and translators specializing in healthcare and law. Interpreters for the deaf should continue to have favorable employment prospects because of low supply, while conference interpreters and literary translators can expect competition because of the small number of jobs in these specialties.

Other languages in demand include Asian languages—Chinese, Korean, and Japanese—as well as Arabic, Farsi, and indigenous African languages. So, too, are European languages like French, Italian, and German.


Salary varies greatly depending on language and subject matter. Interpreters and translators who speak languages that are in high demand or underrepresented in the field often have higher earnings, as do those who communicate about complicated topics. In 2009, the median annual salary was $40,860, and the median hourly wage, $19.65. Interpreters and translators in the bottom 10 percent earned less than $22,810, while those in the top 10 percent earned more than $74,150.

Upward mobility:

Once you’ve gained enough experience, you can transition to a more difficult or prestigious assignment—like conference interpreter—or start a translation agency.

Activity level:

Low. Most translation work is done on a computer, so many translators work from home or at an office. Interpreters work in a wider variety of settings, such as schools, hospitals, courtrooms, and conference centers, and may travel for the job.

[See a list of the best creative and service careers.]

Stress level:

Moderate. Expect to work under pressure of deadlines and tight schedules. Since many interpreters and translators work on a freelance basis, your schedule may vary, with weeks of limited work interspersed with weeks of long hours.

Education and preparation:

You’ll need to be fluent in at least two languages (including your native tongue). Though some interpreters and translators grow up in a bilingual home, it’s not necessary. Some interpreters and translators need a bachelor’s degree to find work, while others complete job-specific training programs. Formal programs are available at colleges nationwide and through non-university training programs and conferences. Federal courts require certification for interpreters of certain languages, as do state and municipals courts.

Interpreters and translators benefit from strong research and analytical skills, as well as a reliable memory.

Real advice from real people about landing a job as an interpreter or translator:

Interpreters and translators should master three skills: communicating in a foreign language, writing in their native language, and developing expertise in a field like law, engineering or physics—whatever topic you want to translate. You’ll likely need a degree in that field to understand it well enough to talk or write about it, which means you should expect to have a dual major in college or at least a major and minor: one in the foreign language, the other in your specialty.

Spending time abroad is valuable for aspiring translators. “Master your own language. You have to be a brilliant writer in English … You translate difficult things, like pharmaceutical inserts and physics textbooks and emergency medical procedures. So that requires you develop expertise in a technical field … Consider [in-demand] languages like Chinese and Arabic and Russian, and Urdu or Pashto if [you’re] courageous. Or Korean … [But] it’s really more important to find a language you’re passionate about.” —Kevin Hendzel, spokesman for the American Translators Association

Court: Defendants with limited English have right to interpreter
August 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Articles, News

November 22, 2010|By the CNN Wire Staff

Defendants with limited English-language skills have a constitutional right to court interpreters in criminal trials, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled Monday.

The ruling came in a case involving a Mandarin Chinese speaker who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on two counts of cruelty to a child. Annie Ling, who had limited English language skills, did not understand that she had the option to plead guilty instead of going to trial and possibly facing a longer sentence, said the American Civil Liberties Union, one of two groups that filed a friend-of-the-court brief stating that denying a defendant an interpreter violates the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws.

“The court acknowledged that we don’t have two systems of justice in this country — one for English speakers and another for everyone else,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project at the ACLU of Georgia. “The constitutional guarantee of due process applies to everyone in this country, not just fluent English speakers.”

Ling was arrested and charged with two counts of cruelty to a child. Her children were removed from the home and placed in foster care, according to court documents. After a 2008 trial, Ling was convicted of one count of cruelty to a child, and sentenced to 15 years, with 10 to serve in prison. The conviction was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The court agreed with the brief, in which the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center joined with the ACLU, that the Sixth Amendment and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment guarantee the defendant the right to an interpreter.

The Georgia Supreme Court also instructed all Georgia state courts to practice “vigilance in protecting the rights of non-English-speakers.”

Clever Business You Could Start This Fall
August 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Maybe 2011 is the year you’d like to start your own business — but you’re not quite sure yet what it will be. Here are seven hot areas for small businesses that you may not have thought of. The good news for each is there’s lots of room for growth, and you could be prepared to jump in by spring.

Medical interpreters

As the number of non-English speakers in the United States who are seeking health care continues to grow, so does the need for medical interpreters who can serve as a liaison between these patients and their doctors.

Medical interpreters have been in short supply, and the demand for them is expected to increase even more, because standards that went into effect Jan. 1 require health care organizations to provide an interpreter for patients who speak limited English.

Even before the new standards were introduced, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted jobs for interpreters and translators would grow by 22 percent over the next decade, faster than for all other occupations.

A nationwide survey of 4,700 doctors, conducted by the nonprofit Center for Studying Health System Change, found that only 55.8 percent of practices with non-English speaking patients provide interpreting services, and 40 percent offer patient-education materials in languages other than English.

Medicaid currently reimburses medical providers for the services of an interpreter. Depending on the state, medical interpreters can make $25 to $50 an hour. In the private sector, they can command upwards of $100 an hour. In Los Angeles, certified medical interpreters make between $80-150 an hour, depending on language.

“In a hospital, when there is a language barrier between the patient and the medical professional it slows everything down. Trained medical interpreters bring more efficiency to the overall operation,” Jenny, president of LA Institute of Translation that provides medical interpreting says. “Without interpreters present, mistakes can happen and they can be costly and tragic.”

In order to be effective, medical interpreters must not only be fluent in a second language but know a great deal of medical terminology, have good memory recall, understand ethics and cultural sensitivities, and be accurate and precise in interpreting and translating medical information. They also must not omit or filter information exchanged between a doctor and a patient.

LA Institute of Translation and Interpretation  offers Certificate of 40-hour medical interpreter program as well as One Year court interpreting course and a 2-year MA in Translation and Interpretation in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Arabic and Armenian.

How to become a court certified interpreter in California
August 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Step 1: Researching Chinese or other foreign language Certified Court Interpreter’s Career Duties and Education

Certified Court Interpreters are essential to Civil and Criminal court proceedings involving non-English speakers in California. They work in courtroom trials, attorney-client meetings, preliminary hearings, depositions and arraignments. They must be familiar with legal terminology in both languages as well as skills in consecutive, sight and simultaneous interpreting.

Step 2: Obtain a Degree to Become a Chinese or other foreign language Certified Court Interpreter

A Certified Court Interpreter does not need a specific degree.  It’s important that prospective Court Interpreters take courses in the law and the judicial system. These courses should provide familiarity with criminal proceedings and interpreter’s code of ethics

Step 3: Become a Fluent Chinese or other foreign language Translator

To be a Certified Court Interpreter, one must be fluent in one or more foreign languages and capable of simultaneous translation. This can be achieved through interpreter programs such as the one year certificate program in LA Institute of Translation and Interpretation.

Step 4: Prepare to Become a Certified Court Interpreter

Becoming a Chinese or other foreign language Certified Court Interpreter requires some years of experience, which can often be gained by working for a translation company such as LA Institute of Translation and Interpretation. Because Court Interpreter positions are scarce, many Court Interpreters take internships or do volunteer work for community organizations. It is a good idea to become a medical certified interpreter which is an easier job than court and acquire experience to become court certified.

Step 5: Become a Chinese or other foreign language Certified Court Interpreter

Translators can become certified by the American Translators Association, although employers may not require it. There is high demand for Court Interpreters fluent in Portuguese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and American Sign Language.

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