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Renew Your ATA Membership for 2014
 

It's in the mail


The ATA membership year ends December 31, 2014, and your membership renewal form for 2015 is already in the mail. Take a look at what your colleagues are saying about their ATA membership.

Networking that counts
Now it has been 12 years since I began translating professionally, and my business is going strong. I can’t imagine that I could have been nearly as successful or enjoyed myself as much if I had not been a member of ATA. M. Field, Assistant Administrator, ATA German Language Division

Marketing that works
I've been an Associate member of ATA since 2001, and I've gotten, and continue to get, a tremendous amount of work via the online directory. It's how people find me. Well worth the yearly dues. J. Goldberg, freelance interpreter (Spanish<>English)

Resources that add up
I have been a member for only a year, and for me the commercial value is huge and, in my opinion, very underestimated. I've learned more in the last year as a member than in my first three years combined in this profession. S. Phillips, freelance translator (Spanish & Portuguese>English)

More than just a laundry list
Your ATA membership is more than just a laundry list of services. Click here to watch the free webinar "How to Get the Most Out of Your ATA Membership."

How to renew?
Renew online now or return your renewal form with payment enclosed as soon as you receive it in the mail. Once again, thank you for your continued support and for renewing your membership in 2015.

While you're renewing, take a minute—or two at the most—to become an ATA Voting member. Why? Because it opens doors to your participation in the Association. The request for a change in membership status is free and online. So why not?

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Headlines


Industry News
Judge Rules Lie Detector Tests for Translators Illegal
Battle Over Foreign Languages in India's Schools
Canada Court Denies Damages to Plaintiffs in Language Complaint
California Examines Need for Civil Court Interpreters
Finding Interpreters Poses Challenges for New York Courts
Voting in Orange County Complicated by Many Languages
Standards Set for Medical Interpreters in Japan
California Considers Mandating Prescription Label Translations
French-Speaking Population Has Grown by 25 Percent
Translation Challenges Discussed at Sharjah Book Fair

ATA News
Congratulations to Newly Elected ATA Board Members
How ATA Works—Board Meeting Summaries, Committee Reports
So long, Chi-Town
Meet Me in Miami
Don't forget to choose your ATA Chronicle delivery option
ATA Responds to Department of Homeland Security
2014 Honors and Awards

Industry News


Judge Rules Lie Detector Tests for Translators Illegal

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller has ruled that the New York-based Metropolitan Interpreters and Translators Inc. is liable for requiring 14 San Diego translators to submit to polygraph tests. Miller found Joseph Citrano, Metropolitan's vice-president, liable as well. According to court documents, Metropolitan made a polygraph test mandatory for any translator who wanted to continue contractor status with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The translators who filed suit said the polygraph tests were highly invasive and included very personal questions, such as an individual's sexual practices. Five of the 14 have already settled with Metropolitan. Miller's ruling paves the way for a jury trial to determine how much the company will have to pay in damages. The DEA has already agreed to pay the 14 plaintiffs a total of $500,000 to settle. The case began in 2011 when the San Diego DEA office discovered a leak involving translated wiretap conversations. As a result, DEA demanded that Metropolitan allow the agency to polygraph the contract employees involved in the translations. About 100 of the company's translators were tested; 27 were told that they had failed. Metropolitan informed those who failed that they could no longer work on the DEA project and subsequently did not renew their contracts. The wiretap leak was never found. Miller's decision to hold Metropolitan accountable is based on the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988. The law, citing questions about the technique's reliability, bans most private companies from polygraphing their employees. However, certain intelligence and law enforcement agencies are listed as exempt from the ban. DEA is not on the list. The DEA's settlement appears to be the first time that a federal agency has settled allegations involving contractors' lie-detector tests since the passage of the 1988 law.

From "Forcing Court Translators to Take Lie Detector Tests Illegal, Judge Rules"
Lexington Herald-Leader (KY) (11/01/14) Taylor, Marisa
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Battle Over Foreign Languages in India's Schools

India's Central School Organization (KVS) has been ordered by the government to stop offering German as a language option for its students. The order allows privately-run schools to continue to offer German classes, and students may study the language as a hobby, without academic credit. The edict is a return to enforcement of India's three-language policy which requires students to learn Hindi, English, and another Indian language, such as Sanskrit. Many schools have permitted the substitution of a foreign language for Hindi or Sanskrit. Schools in non-Hindi-speaking regions have often ignored the Hindi requirement entirely, running with a two-language policy The announcement to drop German classes from the curriculum came after the October disclosure of a 2011 memorandum between KVS and the Goethe Institute. The document allowed German to be accepted as the third language. Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani called the agreement a violation of the country's national educational curriculum and added that an investigation is underway to determine how the agreement came about. German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the language issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the recent G20 summit. According to Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Syed Akbaruddin, Modi assured Merkel that he wanted Indian children to have the chance to learn as many languages as possible, but how to manage this within the confines of India's education system has yet to be worked out. Meanwhile, German Ambassador Michael Steiner hopes India's government will consider allowing German to remain a foreign language option. Steiner says, "If the Indian students want to learn a modern language to improve their professional prospects, they should be given the opportunity."

From "Sanskrit or German? A Row Over Foreign Languages in India's Schools"
Deutsche Welle (Germany) (11/17/14) Nierhoff, Andrea
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Canada Court Denies Damages to Plaintiffs in Language Complaint

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Air Canada does not owe damages to the Ottawa couple who sued when they could not be served in French. The 5-2 decision agrees with an earlier Federal Court of Appeal's ruling that the Official Languages Act does not extend to international flights. The case began after Michel and Lynda Thibodeau made three trips between Ottawa and the U.S. aboard Air Canada Jazz in 2009. The Thibodeaus stated that they could not get service in French at the airport check-in, at the boarding gates, and during the flights. The couple filed suit in Federal Court for violation of their right to be served in French under the Official Languages Act. The Federal Court awarded the Thibodeaus $12,000 in compensation but rejected their request for $500,000 in punitive damages. The ruling noted that it was intended to emphasize the importance of language rights and serve as a deterrent to the airline. On appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal reduced the damages awarded to the couple and excluded the incidents that occurred outside Canada from consideration. On the couple's behalf, the Commissioner of Official Languages took the case to the country's Supreme Court in May 2013. The Supreme Court ruled that under the Montreal Convention, an international treaty signed by Canada, claims for damages made against international air carriers can only be sought in the case of death, injury, damage, loss of baggage, and delays. Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell, writing for the majority, said that in this case, the Montreal Convention takes precedence over the Official Languages Act. "The Montreal Convention's uniform and exclusive scheme of damages liability for international air carriers does not permit an award of damages for breach of language rights during international carriage by air." Two judges disagreed, arguing that by signing the Montreal Convention, Canada did not mean to "extinguish" the rights protected under the Official Languages Act. Justice Rosalie Abella wrote, "Given the significance of the rights protected by the Official Languages Act and their constitutional and historic antecedents, the Montreal Convention ought to be interpreted in a way that respects Canada's express commitment to these fundamental rights, rather than as reflecting an intention to subvert them."

From "Couple Can't Seek Damages in Language Feud With Air Canada: SCC"
CTV News (Canada) (10/28/14) Mulholland, Angela
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California Examines Need for Civil Court Interpreters

In 2011, a complaint stemming from the lack of access to interpreters in Los Angeles County civil courts led to a two-year federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The inquiry concluded that Los Angeles County and the California Judicial Council were in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Federal officials cited the Act's mandate to provide free language services in all court proceedings. California does not provide interpreters for individuals in civil court cases. The probe also found that Los Angeles courts were permitting relatives and friends to interpret at a time when the state had approximately $8 million in unused funds allocated for interpreting services. The money would have covered thousands of hours of interpreting services, federal authorities said. The DOJ has given California time to voluntarily comply with the federal mandate by making interpreting services available to all parties in civil court proceedings. Considering how to accomplish the DOJ requirements, a state task force of judges, attorneys, interpreters, and court administrators spent the last year reviewing language access in courts, including documents, court staff, and handling of interpreter requests. The group's draft plan, released in July, proposes a goal of providing qualified interpreters in civil court cases by 2020. The plan recommends hiring bilingual staff, offering multilingual self-help services, educating judges on working with people who have limited-English skills, and designating employees to supervise language access. The draft has met with opposition from more than three dozen legal organizations. Joann H. Lee is one of the attorneys unhappy with the draft proposal. "It's more of a list of suggestions—we wanted recognition that there was a legal obligation to do this rather than something they thought would be nice for litigants," Lee said. "All counties should be providing interpreters in all proceedings for everyone."

From "After Federal Probe, State Examines Need for Civil Court Interpreters"
Los Angeles Times (CA) (11/14/14) Knoll, Corina
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Finding Interpreters Poses Challenges for New York Courts

New York state courts are facing difficulties in finding interpreters, and the result has been repeated delays in civil cases. Attorneys cite clients having to return to court four or five times because an interpreter was not available or failed to show up. Michael Grinthal, a supervising attorney at MFY Legal Services, says that some individuals simply give up. "The longer they wait, the more likely they are to sign anything put in front of them," he says. Sheryl Karp, supervising attorney at Legal Aid Society's Harlem Community Law Offices, recalls a case where a settlement conference was postponed three times because an interpreter was not available. Karp called a private company to provide interpreting services. Manhattan Housing Court Judge Sabrina Kraus says, "In some cases, the litigant will try to persuade you to proceed without an interpreter." According to Ronald Younkins, executive director for the state's Office of Court Administration, the current number of staff interpreters is 270, down from 335 in 2009. He says the reduction in staff is primarily due to retirement and interpreters leaving for other positions. At the same time, attracting interpreters to fill vacant positions has been hindered by a fixed operating budget. Younkins also notes that the court system is stressed by needing to supply interpreters for more languages—106 this year, up from 95 in 2009. New languages include Burmese and Karen, a language spoken in Myanmar. Sateesh Nori, attorney in charge of civil practice at the Legal Aid Society in Queens, has also experienced long delays, particularly in cases with African and Chinese dialects. He adds, however, that the demographics of a borough like Queens can change very quickly, making it difficult to keep up with language needs. "While today we might be prepared for Hindi, tomorrow we'd need Bengali because the neighborhood has changed," he says. "To be fair, the court has done a decent job in trying to meet these demands, but I'm not sure they have the budget to really keep up with the changing face of Queens."

From "Finding Interpreters Poses Challenges for State Courts"
New York Law Journal (NY) (10/28/14) Simmons, Christine
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Voting in Orange County Complicated by Many Languages

Orange County, California will spend in excess of $300,000 this year on interpreters, bilingual ballots, and outreach to the county's communities. These services are required by federal mandate in jurisdictions where five percent of the voting-age public reported to the U.S. Census that they do not speak English "very well." Four new languages were added this year—Tagalog, Japanese, Hindi, and Khmer. Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese were already being offered. To meet the demand for interpreters, the Registrar of Voters enlists high school students and other county residents to interpret at polling places. Advocates of the multilingual voting requirement say it is necessary in order for the U.S. to be an inclusive democracy; opponents contend that the mandate runs counter to the American principles of assimilation. Nila Ahmad, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, sees both sides. "I definitely think when you move to a country, you should learn the language," Ahmad said. "But I also think that if you went to the trouble to become a citizen and you need a bilingual ballot, then you should have one."

From "One County, Many Tongues"
Orange County Register (CA) (11/10/14) Shine, Nicole; Cisneros, Theresa
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Standards Set for Medical Interpreters in Japan

As Japan gets ready to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, there is new concern about the country's medical interpreter shortage. Interpreters are considered critical in ensuring foreigners equal access to medical care during the games. With demand certain to increase, healthcare providers say there are too few opportunities to train new interpreters. The problem is compounded by the common perception that the career is unstable. The qualifications of current medical interpreters are also in doubt. The country's medical interpreter training programs are handled by local municipalities and non-profit organizations. Each functions independently and according to its own standards. As a first step in changing the system, Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry recently developed a national standard to establish the basic skills and minimum number of training hours required to become a medical interpreter. The standard includes a code of ethics that defines the interpreter's responsibility for patient confidentiality. The Ministry has also announced plans to designate 10 medical institutions as hub hospitals. The government will subsidize the costs of medical interpreters at these centers and also fund "medical coordinators" who can dispatch interpreters to non-hub hospitals when needed. The coordinators and interpreters will help patients understand how Japan's medical and insurance systems work. They are also expected to advocate for patients. Yasuhide Nakamura, a public health expert and professor at Osaka University, embraces the changes. "We can't take the Japanese medical system for granted. We need to see it through the eyes of foreign patients," Nakamura says.

From "Medical Interpreters Discuss Goal for 2020 Olympics"
Japan Times (Japan) (11/14/14) Suzuki, Noriyuki
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California Considers Mandating Prescription Label Translations

The shift towards a more patient-centered approach under the Affordable Care Act could result in California's mandating the translation of prescription labels. Forty-four percent of California residents speak a language other than English at home. As a consequence, the state's Board of Pharmacy is now considering a proposal that would require pharmacies to provide prescription instructions in languages other than English. The rationale for the proposal is that the difficulty non-English proficient patients have in understanding medication instructions contributes to non-adherence and poor outcomes. While translated labels could be the answer, the proposal also raises red flags for some pharmacists. Virginia Herold, executive officer of the California Board of Pharmacy, says, "The first and foremost issue for pharmacists is, 'If I can't read what I'm putting on the label, I can't be certain that I've got the right directions for this patient.' And that is an important and serious obligation of the pharmacist." To provide some reassurance, the Board of Pharmacy's website offers translations of the 21 most common medication instructions in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Russian. When addressing liability issues, the Board might take New York's 2012 Safe Rx Act as a model and guarantee that pharmacies are not liable for third-party translation errors. California's pharmacists might also look to Walgreens as an example of how to do it. The drugstore chain has voluntarily provided translated labels for 15 years. "The single most important information patients have to refer to about how to take their medication is that label," Herold says, "so you want it to be clear, you want it to be consistent, and you want people to be able to read it and understand it."

From "Translating Prescription Labels: California Considers Proposal"
Pharmacist.com (DC) (11/03/14) Collins, Sonya
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French-Speaking Population Has Grown by 25 Percent

Those who say French is a dying language may need to think again. The International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) reports that the number of French-speakers has grown by 25 percent since 2010 and will increase to almost 767 million by the year 2060. According to OIF, more than 270 million people currently speak French, making it the sixth most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, English, Spanish, Arabic, and Hindi. While overshadowed by English in the European Union, French continues to be very strong in parts of Africa—the region accounted for 15 percent of the increase. "French is benefiting from the demographic growth of sub-Saharan African nations," confirms Abdou Diouf, OIF's outgoing secretary general. In addition, he says, "French is the fourth language of the internet, the third language of business, the second language in international news in the media, the second working language in most organizations and the second most commonly learned language in the world." The OIF reports that there are 37 Francophone countries in which French is either an official language or is spoken by at least one in five people. This is potentially good news for the French economy. President François Hollande commissioned a report in August that found that countries with the same language do 65 percent more business with each other than those that do not. He has tasked Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius with developing overseas growth opportunities, focusing on the African market. While the stats in the OIF report show very promising trends, Clément Duhaime, director general of the OIF, warns that the future of the language is not certain. He stresses the need for investment in education to maintain the spread of French. "If there are no educational facilities and training of teachers, young people could quickly turn away from French," Duhaime says. The language is "a giant with clay feet."

From "French Language Is on the Up, Report Reveals"
The Local (France) (11/06/14) Johnstone, Lindsey
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Translation Challenges Discussed at Sharjah Book Fair

The challenges of getting translations of non-English texts distributed in Western markets was the subject of a panel discussion at the recent Sharjah International Book Fair [United Arab Emirates]. The panel, called "Translated Books and the Global View of Sales," included representatives of a variety of international publishing firms. Seth Russo, vice-president of international sales for Simon & Schuster, kicked off the discussion with a view from the West. Russo expressed confidence that the increased use of social media in book promotion is growing the base of English-readers. He also believes that the expansion of online retailing in Europe and Asia is contributing to the strength of the English-language market. In closing, Russo pointed out that even though e-book sales top those of physical books, the demand for print publications has remained stable—yet another indication of market strength. Panelist Yasmina Jraissati, who founded a literary agency to promote the translation of Arabic literature, described the difficulty in finding translations. She said that many Arabic titles are translated into English from a second language rather than the original. Jraissati estimates only two percent of the books she vets are worth translating. Panelist and Fixi Publishing House Founder Amir Muhammed discussed the native Malaysian market, where a title can achieve bestseller status with the sale of 50,000 copies. Muhammed noted that 90 percent of the readers in Malaysia are women and romance is the most popular genre. His account of looking for something else to publish injected a note of humor into the discussion. He said he had decided to publish Stephen King's Joyland as something different that would appeal to a wider audience. To find a translator, he conducted an open, online audition. The first line of King's book is "It was the fall of 1973." The translations, as he had expected, varied, but the one that caught his attention began with "people falling down all over the place in 1973."

From "Execs Talk Translation at Sharjah Book Fair"
Publishers Weekly (NY) (11/07/14) Ermelino, Louisa
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ATA News


Congratulations to Newly Elected ATA Board Members

Three directors were elected to the ATA Board at the Annual Meeting of Voting Members, held Thursday, November 6. Congratulations to Chris Durban, Geoff Koby, and Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo. Each has been elected to a three-year term.

The newly elected directors join currently serving Board members Evelyn Yang Garland, Rudy Heller, Odile Legeay, Jane Maier, Corinne McKay, Faiza Sultan, and President Caitilin Walsh, President-elect David Rumsey, Secretary Boris Silversteyn, and Treasurer Ted Wozniak.

How ATA Works—Board Meeting Summaries, Committee Reports

Board Meetings
The ATA Board of Directors meets four times a year to establish policy, develop goals and objectives, and oversee Association finances. Following each Board meeting, a brief summary of business and action items is posted on the ATA website. Click here to read the latest ATA Board Meeting Summary.

Committees
ATA Committees oversee and administer many of ATA's activities and programs. As a volunteer-driven organization, member participation at the committee level is crucial to the Association's success. Click here to learn about ATA Committees and their accomplishments in 2014.

So long, Chi-Town

Chicago lived up to its "windy city" reputation, but with more than 200 sessions and events to keep them busy, attendees at ATA's 56th Annual Conference hardly had time to notice.

Here's an opportunity to relive those conference moments or see what you missed!
Want a personal take on the conference? Check out what these bloggers have to say.
Meet Me in Miami

Congratulations to Xiaowan Zheng! Xiaowan is the winner of a free registration to ATA's 56th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida. (November 4-7, 2015). Each year, one Overall Event Survey is randomly selected to receive a complimentary registration to the next year's conference. Thanks to all of this year's attendees who submitted a survey. Your feedback really does make a difference!

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Don't forget to choose your ATA Chronicle delivery option

The ATA Chronicle is available in print and online. Make sure you receive the magazine in the format you want! Look for the opt-in and opt-out check boxes on the membership renewal form.

ATA Responds to Department of Homeland Security

When the Department of Homeland Security called for comment on its Language Access Plans, ATA responded quickly with an in-depth analysis and review. Many thanks to volunteers from the Interpreters Division for their long hours of work in support of ATA's reply.

ATA's response includes a comprehensive review of both interpreting and translation services in the U.S., from standards of practice to skills to procurement of professional services. The document is well worth the read. Click the link below to pull up a PDF copy.

2014 Honors and Awards

Each year, ATA and the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation present several annual and biennial awards in recognition of outstanding professional accomplishments. This year's award recipients were announced on November 7, 2014, at the ATA Annual Meeting of All Members.

  • Lewis Galantière Award
    Juliet Winters Carpenter

  • Harvie Jordan Scholarship
    Rosario F. Welle

  • ATA School Outreach Contest
    Jenny Stillo

Watch for nomination and submission information for the 2015 Honors and Awards in the January issue of The ATA Chronicle.


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