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Jeju Province to Expand Language Services for Workers

Interpretation, Translation

Receiving thousands of requests for translation and interpretation services each year, the Jeju Province has decided to expand its language services to include seven new languages, including Nepali, Indonesian, and Cambodian.

The Special Self-Governing Jeju Province, which encompasses the South Korean island of Jeju in the Korea Strait, has announced that it will expand and operate the interpretation and translation services of the Foreign Workers Support Center under the Provincial Office. The stated purpose is to facilitate foreign workers’ adaptation to the local communities, alleviate various life inconveniences, and resolve human rights issues.

Located off the coast of South Korea, the Jeju Province currently provides foreign language interpretation and translation services for foreign workers through the Foreign Workers Support Center. The center plans to expand interpretation and translation consultations and services from the existing English, Chinese, Filipino, and Vietnamese to seven new languages, including Nepali, Indonesian, and Cambodian. As of the end of August this year, the Foreign Workers Support Center had conducted over 2,000 consultations.

According to the monthly statistical report of the Immigration Service of the Ministry of Justice, as of the end of June 2020, there are 11,896 registered foreigners in Jeju Province from China, 3,567 from Vietnam, 1,795 from Indonesia, 1,278 from Nepal, 625 from the Philippines, and 458 from Cambodia.

The consultations fell into several categories, including 300 cases of overdue wages, 270 cases of workplace change, and 171 cases related to immigration. Other matters such as medical care, industrial accidents, education, daily life grievances, and interpretation and translation issues were also discussed. As for the nationality of the consultees, Chinese nationals represented the largest group at 982, followed by 406 Nepalese, 259 Vietnamese, 205 Filipino, 107 Sri Lankans, and 87 Yemeni.

The announcement for the expansion also comes at a pivotal time as the region works to keep COVID-19 cases low. South Korea has had several holidays in the past few weeks, including its five-day fall harvest festival of Chuseok, along with the national Hangeul Day holiday. According to officials, the combined number of outside visitors to the island during these holidays reached some 460,000. Notably, the island has not seen a new virus case reported since Sept. 23, according to health officials.

“We will come up with a variety of support measures for foreign workers to adapt quickly to the community and resolve any grievances they may have,” said Choi Myeong-dong, director of the Job Economy and Trade Bureau.

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Deaf ASL Interpreters on DPAN for US Presidential Debate

Interpretation

In the absence of ASL interpreting services in official presidential events, DPAN has commissioned several ASL interpreters to provide interpreting services on the organization’s livestream during the election season.

The US presidential debates have never commissioned ASL interpreters to provide interpreting services for the event, forcing millions of Deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers to rely on a flawed, live closed captioning system to experience one of the presidential election season’s most important events. In response to the debate’s lack of ASL interpreters, the Deaf Professional Arts Network (DPAN) has livestreamed the debates with ASL interpreters assigned to each party during the debate. Along with two other ASL interpreters who were assigned to interpret President Trump and debate moderator Chris Wallace, deaf ASL interpreter Regan Thibodeau expressed excitement over the chance to push for more representation for Deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that 37.5 million American adults over the age of 18 report some trouble hearing, and nearly one million Americans are functionally deaf according to the US Census Bureau. Responding to increased calls for ASL interpreting services, the Commission on Presidential Debates released a statement promising a format change for upcoming debates but has not made any official statement yet on improved real-time accessibility options.

This led organizers at DPAN to take it upon themselves to provide the vital interpreting service during the first debate. A non-partisan organization, DPAN was originally created to extend music and music culture to those who are Deaf and hard of hearing, but the organization has now moved into interpreting the debates to ensure the same community has equal access to voting information.

“Impartiality, people really need to be aware of the importance of that. Who I am interpreting for does not reflect who I am as a person. It does not reflect my beliefs and values. It only reflects my interpreting value of access,” Thibodeau said. “It’s not just making faces. It’s not just being animated. There are linguistic meanings behind it and nuances when you tilt your head to the left, to the right, to the back, to the front. It is very complicated. Not something you can learn in two years at all.”

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Conference Interpreters Face Tumultuous EU Measures

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Several of the measures put forth by the European Commission and European Parliament have aimed at mitigating the impact of contract cancellations on auxiliary conference interpreters, though still fall short for many.

Throughout the pandemic, European Union institutions have enacted several measures to address the significant loss in work for auxiliary conference interpreters (ACIs). Initially, the European Commission began canceling long-term ACI contracts, offering a loan of 1,300 euros for the period of inactivity. However, the cancellations made many ACIs ambivalent about the long-term viability of such measures and even led to groups gathering in front of parliament to protest the measures.

In a press statement in May, the interpreter trade union Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) said that freelance interpreters are responsible for over 50% of the simultaneous interpretation at meetings and conferences organized by the EU, with the rest covered by staff interpreters. The statement went on, “ACIs will receive a one-off payment for [the deferred] contracts shortly after accepting the package, and will have to work off the days,” adding, “The Institutions should go further than a loan of 1300 euros to cover 3-6 months without work and offer proper help during such an unprecedented crisis.”

Responding to the widespread criticism, the EC has decided to defer any further ACI contract cancellations through the rest of the year.

Besides the EC, however, the European Parliament (EP) has also gone through its own measures to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, proceeding with the cancellation of 2019 long-term ACI contracts on a rolling basis. To provide some assistance to the ACIs in this transition, the EP has offered a skills enhancement scheme that will provide ACIs with advanced funds to enroll in online courses relevant to the profession.

Asked for his reaction to these latest developments, Tom Van den Kerkhof, a Brussels-based ACI working for the EC, EP, and Court of Justice, said: “Personally, I am grateful for these measures, [although] I don’t qualify. I am a local ACI and, therefore, still have long-term contracts with SCIC until the end of the year. For the European Parliament, I have been getting a couple of contracts per month since June, which excludes me from the eligibility criteria. So, in a way, I am fortunate. You must work less than 3 days in a given 30-day period in order to qualify.”

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Remote Simultaneous Interpreting Report Released

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A CSA Research report outlines 18 companies that offer a remote simultaneous interpreting platform, some of which have made a recent shift to the industry in response to the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a substantial shift for companies offering simultaneous interpreting platforms and companies delivering multilingual meetings and events. However, with the very recent influx of remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) and virtual event systems, organizations seeking RSI services may still need further information before settling on a platform.

In a new study, independent market research firm CSA Research has provided a comprehensive guide to 18 companies that offer a proprietary RSI platform to address the needs of non-native language speaking participants. Global companies in industries and specialties ranging from events to financial services to government can use the data in the 100+ page report, “Remote Simultaneous Interpreting Platforms,” to short-list candidates that meet global language requirements for virtual events and meetings.

The data represent the state of these products as of September 2020, detailing the core characteristics of 18 providers that participated in the research, characteristics that include pricing overview, underlying technology, common features and functionalities, security and performance data, recommendations on selecting a platform, detailed appendix with profiles, target industries using these solutions.

“With the recent boom in RSI development and the interest that some mainstream conferencing solutions like Zoom are taking into adding RSI capabilities, the future of this category remains to be written,” said Hélène Pielmeier, senior analyst at CSA Research. “Whatever happens in the long run, immediate needs mean selecting a solution now. Ad hoc solutions such as using Skype do not provide the level of customer experience your session attendees deserve.”

Providers detailed in the report include Ablio, Duvall, Estreemo, iBridge People, Interactio, Interprefy, KUDO, KUNVENO, Mastervoice, Neumann&Müller, Olyusei, Rafiky, Synonyme.net, US Translation Company, VERSPEAK, VoiceBoxer, Webswitcher, and ZipDX.

The report addresses topics and questions around the key elements to assess when deciding to bring simultaneous interpreting to an event that has remote speakers, remote attendees, remote interpreters, or a combination thereof. It also provides research-backed analysis of the RSI tools available on the market including 90+ elements and core strengths for each platform.

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Health Services Multilingual at University of Iowa Hospitals

Interpretation

Translators and interpreters as well as hospital staff agree that the language services in healthcare have not only expanded access to many non-English speaking Iowans, but also given patients more control of their health.

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has made news recently for the language service provisions offered by the public teaching hospital. Recognizing a need for greater multilingual access to health services, hospital language service providers have sought to improve health care for medical professionals and patients by eliminating language barriers for non-English speakers. The university hospital’s Interpretation and Translation Services currently offers 24-hour interpretation from trained interpreters, with video options and an online service for patients who do not have access to an in-person translator.

“When you have effective communication, you reduce misinterpretations that could lead to a patient taking the wrong medicine, for example,” said Adrian Silva, one of the translators working at the hospital.

“If they don’t understand something, they could be putting their life at risk. When we have good communication, it helps people have a better outcome, regardless of what’s going on. Just because they don’t speak the language doesn’t mean they need to receive any different care. My mission is to provide the best interpreting possible so that everyone can understand what’s happening to their health.”

The current team can interpret and translate in Swahili, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Spanish, and American Sign Language. They can also communicate with people who speak a language other than what the in-person interpreters can speak using CyraCom, a service that offers phone and video interpretations.

“Having translators helps to ease a lot of patient concerns, because they also recognize the language barrier,” said UIHC Pediatric Oncology Nurse Care Coordinator Amber Reiten.

“The education we need to provide is very important to their child. Having in-person translators allows us to see the weight be lifted off the shoulders of our families. Interpreters who remember details are huge when building trust with our families. Once you have that trust established, these families are much more open to asking questions that they may have been scared to ask before.”

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VOYCE Interpreters Working with Texas Students

Interpretation

What began as a pilot program between VOYCE and the Spring Branch Independent School District earlier this year has gained traction during the pandemic, with dozens of students making requests for remote interpreter services.

As the pandemic has put a strain on school districts nationwide, many schools are seeking language service providers (LSPs) to help non-English speaking (NES) students manage the challenges of remote learning. One district in Texas has been working with VOYCE Inc. to deploy on-demand language interpreter services to help teachers and staff communicate more effectively with non-English-speaking students and families.

Earlier this year, VOYCE worked with Spring Branch Independent School District on a limited pilot project using VOYCE interpreter services to connect families with teachers, social service providers and administrators. Spring Branch ISD began distance learning in March after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered schools, universities, and businesses temporarily closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

VOYCE’s on-demand language voice and video interpretation services connect users with interpreters remotely, eliminating the need for in-person interpretation. VOYCE’s team of interpreters speak more than 220 languages and dialects including American Sign Language (ASL). The app is available for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.

“Family engagement plays a key role in academic success and this tool fills a huge gap. We have so many families that do not speak English. By helping better connect teachers with families, and removing the language barrier, we will be able to improve the educational experience while keeping parents engaged in their children’s academic progress,” said Jennifer Blaine, superintendent of Spring Branch ISD. “In the remote learning environment we saw with COVID-19 in the spring, making these connections with parents in their own language was vital in helping students be successful. We know this will continue to be important with our new school year now underway.”

With more than 45 campuses, Spring Branch ISD educates a diverse student population of about 35,000 students in the Houston area. In a pilot with Thornwood Elementary School covering April through the end of June, district staff used the VOYCE app for 28 requests for interpreter services, spanning about 183 minutes to enable parent-teacher conferences and other communications. Interpreters were used for conversations in a variety of languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese.

“Parents really appreciated it when teachers were calling with an interpreter available so they could discuss their children’s progress in their own language,” said Linda Buchman, SBISD community relations officer. “Our families speak over 70 different languages. It was extremely helpful to have this tool to check in with parents and communicate information about their child’s academics and other services.”

VOYCE works with a variety of industries to break down language barriers and create connections through on-demand translators, including education, health care facilities and hospitals.

“Our nation’s educators are facing numerous challenges with remote learning during this global COVID-19 pandemic, but language barriers should not be one of them,” VOYCE CEO Andrew Royce said. “As schools face a new reality and look at in-person and distance learning programs, our technology gives teachers, administrators and other key personnel easy access to real-time interpreters through video or voice to provide the power to engage with parents and families.”

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TIS National VRI Service to Assist in Australian Healthcare

Interpretation

With over 2,300 interpreters, TIS National has been providing video remote interpreting services in Australian healthcare, which aims to provide better access to non-English speaking communities.

Responding to the growing demand for multilingual services in healthcare, the Australian Government’s Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) has launched a new video remote interpreting (VRI) service to help non-English speaking patients access telehealth consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The VRI service allows medical professionals to book an interpreter remotely to assist during video consultations with patients with limited or no English-language skills. Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said communities have already begun using the service at a high rate in Victoria, which has struggled during the pandemic to accessibly communicate health information to its multilingual communities. TIS National aims to mitigate the strain put on those communities as COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally.

“The new telehealth video interpreting service adds another level of useability to TIS National which is already providing critical telephone interpreting services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, right across Australia,” Tudge said. The video service will make it easier for medical professionals to connect with their patients, while enabling the COVID-safe delivery of vital health services. Importantly, it will reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients, healthcare providers and interpreters.”

TIS National connects government, businesses, and the Australian community through the provision of credentialed and secure interpreting services in more than 140 languages. TIS National has a panel of over 2,300 interpreters, who are Australian permanent residents or citizens.

NAATI, Australia’s certifying authority for linguists, reported earlier this year that the top five first languages among translators and interpreters are Chinese (26.5%), English (13.8%), Arabic (7.5%), Vietnamese (5.4%), and Persian/Farsi (5.2%), all of which have represented the majority of requests for the VRI service. Along with those languages, however, Arabic, Greek, and Italian have made up a significant portion of the demand.

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AMN Healthcare Brings Interpretation to School Teletherapy

Interpretation

Combining recent interpretation services acquisitions, AMN Healthcare will provide schools with interpretation in several languages, including American Sign Language (ASL).

AMN Healthcare has launched a service that will combine teletherapy for schools with video interpretation services, allowing therapy professionals to communicate with any student, parent, or guardian who may be limited English proficient (LEP), Deaf, or hard of hearing. Teletherapy helps school districts better facilitate the learning process for students with disability, as well as those who need language interpreters, while also addressing the shortages of therapy professionals, particularly in rural areas and other underserved communities.

The new Teletherapy service follows on the heels of the healthcare solutions provider’s acquisition of Stratus Video, a language services provider that focuses on video remote interpretation for hospitals and clinics, including phone interpretation, onsite interpretation, and telehealth interoperability.

“Qualified healthcare interpretation, which is mandated by federal and many state regulations, is a service that many healthcare organizations do not have the resources to provide for themselves,” AMN Healthcare CEO Susan R. Salka said of the purchase earlier this year. “This acquisition also helps further deliver on AMN’s commitment to help deliver quality, compassionate patient care, reduce complexity, increase efficiency and improve the patient and clinician experience. Quality medical interpretation services delivered through a secure communications platform also aligns with AMN commitment to equality and inclusion by supporting greater access to care for limited-English proficient patients, deaf and hard of hearing individuals along with their families.”

The new service combines AMN Healthcare’s latest advanced teletherapy platform and the nation’s top school therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other care providers with medically qualified interpreters. The company expects the service to enable virtual patient-provider encounters in multiple languages, including ASL.

“The burden on school districts to provide consistent, quality therapy is higher today than ever before. Schools must overcome significant barriers to reach all the children who need help,” said Kelly Rakowski, Group President and Chief Operating Officer, Strategic Talent Solutions, at AMN Healthcare. “By combining teletherapy services with live interpretation from medically qualified interpreters, AMN Healthcare is expanding access to care and helping to improve health equity throughout the country.”

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