The Computerized ATA Certification Exam
The first fully computerized ATA Certification Exam was tested this past April and will be available at several exam sittings in the second half of 2016. But what does "computerized exam" mean? How does it work? Is this the end of the handwritten exam?
Certification Committee Chair David Stephenson and Deputy Chair Michèle Hansen answer these questions and more in Episode 5 of The ATA Podcast.
Senate Panel Grants More Visas for Afghan Interpreters and Others Who Supported U.S.
Associated Press (NY) (06/29/16) Lardner, Richard
A Senate panel approved an additional 4,000 visas to allow Afghans who assisted American troops in the war in Afghanistan and are at risk of being killed or injured by the Taliban to resettle in the United States. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously, 30 to 0, to approve a foreign operations spending bill that includes a provision granting the extra visas and extending the Special Immigrant Visa program for another year. Afghan civilians who worked for the U.S. coalition, including military interpreters, are in danger in their home country because the militants consider them traitors. Army General John Nicholson, the top American commander in Afghanistan, urged Congress to extend the Special Immigrant Visa program so they and their families could escape what he called "grave consequences." Senator Jeanne Shaheen pushed for the program to be continued, telling colleagues that many Americans who served in Afghanistan are alive today because of the support they received from Afghans willing to put themselves in danger. "If Congress fails to extend this program, this could be a death sentence for many Afghans who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our military and diplomats," Shaheen stated. Earlier this month, Shaheen and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain had sought to extend and expand the visa program by adding an amendment to the annual defense policy bill. But a procedural dispute prevented most amendments from being debated and included in the legislation. Senate backers of the visa program still face objections from skeptical lawmakers in the Republican-led House. In the House's version of the defense bill, lawmakers refused to provide the 4,000 additional visas. They did extend the program for a year, but restricted eligibility for visas only to Afghans whose jobs took them outside the confines of a military base or secured facility. The Special Immigrant Visa program was created in 2008. Its goal was to allow military interpreters whose lives were in danger because of their work for U.S. forces in Afghanistan to come to the United States. Afghans who resettle in the U.S. become lawful permanent residents and are entitled to federally supported benefits such as Medicaid, subsidies for health care, and food stamps. The program has since expanded to offer visas to any Afghan who can demonstrate "at least one year of faithful and valuable service" to or on behalf of the U.S. government. More than 20,000 Afghan interpreters and their family members have immigrated to the U.S. under the program, most of them in the past two years.
Groups Making Sure Voting Materials Are Available in Spanish
USA Today (DC) (06/10/16) Berry, Deborah Barfield
National groups are translating state voter ID laws into Spanish to help ensure Hispanic voters bring proper identification to the polls on Election Day. "Voter ID laws can be confusing because they are different in every state," says Joanna Cuevas Ingram, associate counsel with the Latino Justice Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund (PRLDEF). "There's a need for clarity. We believe every vote counts and every voter should have access to information regardless of the language they speak." Latino Justice PRLDEF is teaming up with the Brennan Center for Justice and Rock the Vote to translate voter ID requirements and registration deadlines into Spanish for all 50 states for the November elections. The groups plan to unveil the project later this summer. Voting rights groups say such efforts are critical as state electorates become more diverse. They also note this will be the first presidential election to test new voter ID laws adopted by several states. It's also the first presidential contest since the Supreme Court eliminated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. That provision had required states with a history of voting discrimination to get clearance from the Justice Department before making any changes to their election procedures. "Language stands as a real barrier for voters seeking to participate in the political process, especially today in an increasingly diverse world," says Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Clarke feels Justice Department officials should focus more on ensuring that state election officials take "all necessary steps to equip those voters with the information they need to successfully participate in the political process." Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission and Democracy Fund, recently returned from observing primaries in Orange County, California, where he saw displays outside some polling sites providing information in five different languages. "The country's not all about English," Hicks says. "We should help people to make an informed decision when they're casting a ballot."
Discrimination Case Closed as Colorado Courts Improve Interpreter Access
Associated Press (NY) (06/21/16)
The U.S. Department of Justice has closed a discrimination case against Colorado's court system concerning the treatment of people with limited English proficiency. The Justice Department praised Colorado for the progress it has made following the 2004 filing of a complaint under the Civil Rights Act that courts in the state were requiring parties in civil cases to bring their own interpreters. Reforms were laid out in a memorandum of agreement that Colorado's chief justice and top court administrator signed in 2011. A strategic plan was issued the next year that has been closely monitored by the Justice Department. "We commend State Court Administrator Gerald Marroney and his staff for their dedicated, collaborative efforts to transform the delivery of language access services for the benefit of all," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. Changes included translating hundreds of court forms and signs into Spanish. This year, Colorado court officials began making those documents available in six other languages. While Spanish remains the most frequently needed language, state court interpreters in Colorado are called on for more than 200 languages. Colorado courts have also created a phone bank in Boulder that judges across the state can access to speak to an interpreter for simple proceedings such as brief pre-trial hearings. Spending for the Colorado Office of the State Court Administrator's Language Access Office has also doubled from just over $2 million in 2003 to just over $4 million in 2013. Rob McCallum, spokesman for the Colorado Judicial Department, says the Justice Department "helped us build a quality program for Colorado."
Shanghai Disneyland Struggles to Translate Attractions for Chinese Visitors
Dow Jones Newswires (NY) (06/22/16) Fritz, Ben; Jie, Yang; Wei, Zhou
The Walt Disney Company is going to great lengths to ease language and cultural gaps for Chinese visitors to the new Shanghai Disneyland. This involves renaming certain attractions so they make sense to locals and integrate better with their cultural sensitivities. For example, since the animated classic "Dumbo" is little known in China, the ride inspired by the movie is now called Little Flying Elephant. Likewise, the princess-themed beauty salon known as Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makes no sense in a literal translation to Chinese, so the designers decided to call it the Colorful Magical Fanciful Transformation. "Every time we come up with a name, we have to make sure it has a whimsical Disney feel that resonates with the Chinese people and conveys the Disney experience," says Fangxing Pitcher, a writer for the Disney Imagineering theme park design group. "If you just do a straight translation, all of that gets lost." Designers realized early on that coming up with puns is particularly challenging, since playful misspellings aren't possible in a pictorial language. Their solution was to rely on written Chinese characters that sound the same but have different meanings. For example, Hunny Pot Spin, a Winnie the Pooh ride, is now called Spinning Honey Pot, in which a Chinese character used in the word for " honey" is replaced by one meaning "crazy" or "wild." Ensuring that the translations are correct is of vital importance to Disney, especially given the issues it encountered at its other parks. For its earlier theme parks in Paris and Hong Kong, Disney did much of the initial design work in English, handling translation later in the process. Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in 1992 and 2005, respectively, struggled at first to connect with local audiences and have had financial problems. In Hong Kong, Chinese visitors complained that they couldn't navigate the theme park and didn't know what to do there. "We've learned through the years that it's always a good idea to be as accessible to your guests as you can be," says Stan Dodd, an Imagineering creative director. "I think in previous parks we may not have thought that through as specifically as we did here."
Taking a Class Project to the Next Level: North Carolina French-Language Students Pen Book of Fairy Tales
Shelby Star (NC) (06/26/16) Franco, Elise
A group of Laura Parker's French students took what could have been a run-of-the-mill assignment and created a published book of fairy tales that they will send to children in Haiti. Parker, a French teacher at Burns High School in Lawson, North Carolina, says every year the students in her French III and IV classes do a unit on fairy tales, learning to read and write them. At the end of the unit, they usually create pop-up books, but this year the class decided to take a different approach. "The students I had this time are super amazing kids, and one said, 'Why can't we do something that we could send to some kids who don't have books?'" Parker explains. "We decided to do something a little more formal, so students wrote their stories as traditional fairy tales. The purpose is to teach the kids something." Students worked on their stories for about a month. Some worked together and others individually, and once they were finished, they partnered with students in Steven Pruitt's art class to create the illustrations. The book was then sent to a printing company, and now students have 20 copies they'll send to an orphanage in Haiti. Parker says they chose Haiti because it's a French-speaking country. A local church group visiting the country on a mission this summer will take the books with them to present to the children. "These students took something they learned and used it to help someone else," Parker says. "It's probably the best thing you can see as a teacher." This project was a memorable experience for Parker not only because a group of Haitian children will benefit, but also because of what her students gained. "It's really nice to see kids who don't passively sit back and learn, but instead get active and involved," she says. "Learning a language isn't just about filling in worksheets. [...] I think this is a way to encourage them to continue studying French."
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Last chance to enter ATA's School Outreach Contest
Just 18 days left to enter ATA's School Outreach Contest. If you've been planning to send in your photo and story, this is your friendly reminder to do it now. Remember, the contest winner receives a free registration to ATA's 57th Annual Conference in San Francisco (November 2-5, 2016).
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Coming Up in the July/August Issue of The ATA Chronicle
International Payment Updates
For companies of all sizes, the cost of each international payment transaction can result in a significant cost of doing business. Read on to find out what’s changed regarding the international payment options available today. (Eve Lindemuth Bodeux)
Where Does Language Fit in with Big Data?
What is “big data” and how did it become part of the language sector? How should translators and interpreters approach it? (Don DePalma )
SOAP Notes: Getting Down and Dirty with Medical Translation
Progress notes and patient records are the medical translator’s bread and butter, but this doesn’t prevent even the most experienced medical translators from making mistakes. (Erin M. Lyons)
How to Read and Translate R and S Phrases in Technical Texts
R (risk) and S (safety) phrases occur extensively in chemical documentation. The following explains their origin and set wording, along with their successors—the H (hazard) and P (precautionary) statements. (Matthew F. Schlecht)
U.S. Immigration Benefits for Professional Translators and Interpreters
The immigration options available to foreign-born translators and interpreters are varied. An immigration attorney and a certified translator explain the benefits and drawbacks of applying for immigration benefits for foreign-born translators and interpreters. (Elizabeth Ricci, Michael K. Launer)
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.
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