Interpretation

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Weekly Shorts | January 15, 2021

Business News, Geopolitics, Interpretation, Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events, Localization, Multimedia Translation, Personalization and Design, Technology, Terminology, Translation, Uncategorized, Weekly Shorts

Translation error says Spanish speakers don’t need vaccine

A localization error on the Virginia Department of Health’s website told Spanish speakers they don’t need coronavirus vaccines, according to Norfolk, Virginia newspaper The Virginian-Pilot. Medical students at George Mason University discovered the mistake, which may have stemmed from unclear source text: “Before the faulty translation, the English passage simply meant the vaccine wasn’t mandatory,” the paper reports.

TransPerfect opens Istanbul office

New York-based translation company TransPerfect has opened a new outpost in Istanbul, Turkey. N Can Okay will oversee the office, dealing primarily with talent recruitment, according to a company release.

Neural interpretation from TikTok?

ByteDance, the parent company of international social media platform TikTok, has gotten in the interpreting game, releasing an open source tool named NeurST: Neural Speech Translation Toolkit. Note this is a misnomer, as the tech does not translate written language — rather interprets verbal speech. Full code is available on collaboration portal GitHub.

Nieman Lab predicts non-English news

American journalism think tank The Nieman Lab anticipates the United States will see more non-English news content in 2021 as both translated and in-language reporting increase. “Additionally, we foresee more substantive and equitable partnerships developing between mainstream and ethnic media organizations,” write Stefanie Murray and Anthony Advincula.

ATA accepting conference proposals

The American Translators Association has issued its call for presentation proposals for the association’s October 27-30, 2021 conference. The event will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota with virtual attendance options. Proposals are accepted through March 1.

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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KUDO Marketplace: Democratizing Live Interpretation

Business News, Interpretation

In a conversation with Ewandro Magalhães, chief language officer at KUDO, we learned how the new KUDO Marketplace enables service users to build a stronger relationship with its live interpreters. “This is going to change the whole discussion about quality,” he said. “Because if you ask an interpreter what quality is, they will say it’s all about linguistic quality. If you ask a client, they will say it’s being on time and doing a good job. This means it’s going to democratize the process and the market is going to self-regulate.”

How it works
KUDO is a video collaboration platform with built-in language support offering remote simultaneous interpretation. KUDO Marketplace is the first of three steps to roll out a mutual review-based environment where users can customize their interpreter teams while interpreters have more influence on the work they choose. By using a button to book interpreters, the marketplace will staff any multilingual meeting from its roster of interpreters, based upon who is available, their expertise, and language pairs. This automates the process, bypassing emails, calls, and conversations. In milliseconds, interpreters are paired up with a client. Over time, clients will be able to select the interpreters they liked or who served them before, creating a closer collaboration that will inevitably result in greater confidence going into meetings.

How to customize your team of interpreters using KUDO Marketplace.

Rock star interpreters
When asked if interpreters could have any influence on their rating, for example by broadcasting the hardware they use, Magalhães said, “Eventually there will be a rating system — a star system based on series of assessments made by the clients. In the same way, the users are going to be rated by the interpreters as well. It’s a two-way street.”

How does the marketplace determine who gets access to that rock star interpreter? “If the demand is there there will be enough work for everyone,” said Magalhães. “The idea is to offer vetted interpreters you can rely on and empower interpreters around the world. You’ll get quality, no matter what. The same rates and same compensations are applied no matter the interpreter status or where they are based.” Currently, there are about 150 vetted KUDO Pro interpreters out of a network of 10,000, and the number is being expanded carefully.

Two-way client review.

The next steps are still in the developing phase, but the vision is clear: KUDO is creating an environment where clients and partners have access to a huge database of interpreters and may conduct searches themselves. They can decide to hire through KUDO Marketplace or hire separately.

The live demo this morning at 11:00 am EST was attended by more than 300 people. The Marketplace itself will be available to users on February 1, 2021.

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Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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InterpretAmerica Closes

Business News, Interpretation, Language Industry News and Events, Uncategorized

Today marks the last day of operations for InterpretAmerica. Founded in 2009 by Katharine Allen and Barry Slaughter Olsen, the organization served as an open forum to champion the profession of foreign language interpreting.  Over the past 12 years, it hosted multiple conferences of its own as well as partnered with the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) on its Think! series events. Allen and Slaughter Olsen marked the end of their tenure at 11 am Eastern with a memoriam of sorts — a 90 minute conference call celebrating the group’s advocacy efforts.

For those outside the language industry, InterpretAmerica’s best known work may be the video it produced for American business magazine Wired, showing how interpreters do their jobs. While the explainer focused primarily on interpreters working at the United Nations or in other political environments, it did review crucial differences between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, as well as other basics of the profession.

When asked about their personal favorite projects, though, both Allen and Slaughter Olsen cite Lenguas, a Mexican conference series Slaughter Olsen says “recognize[d] interpreters in conflict zones and the inclusion of so many indigenous interpreters in our activities as peers and colleagues.”

“What really triggered this [closure] was a radical change in my career path,” Slaughter Olsen explains, “In May of 2020 I accepted a position as VP of Client Success at KUDO,” a multilingual web conferencing platform. Allen says she then took “time to decide whether to stay on with InterpretAmerica as a solo effort or maybe with a new partner,” opting to close in the end. Resources presently on the InterpretAmerica website and YouTube channel will remain online indefinitely.

Speakers at today event included interpreting industry leaders from GALA, Certified Languages International, Cross-Cultural Communications, the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters in California (CoPTIC)​, the American Translators Association (ATA), and others.

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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SBA Closes Comments on Controversial Proposal

Business News, Interpretation, Translation, Uncategorized

Comments are now closed on a controversial proposal from the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Rule SBA-2020-0055-0001 seeks to raise the amount language services companies (LSP’s) could bill a year and still be considered small businesses. Revenue classifications are used by the US government to determine whether enterprises are eligible for small business set-asides — a select number of government contracts awarded to companies that bill less than 8 million USD a year. If successful, the measure would raise this amount to 20 million USD — a threshold where Lindsey Cambardella, chief executive officer of Translation Station in Chamblee, Georgia, says truly “small” LSP’s would no longer be able to compete.

“Arguments may be made that businesses smaller than $8m may not be able to handle larger contracts, but as a company that falls into the $3m – $5m range, I can confirm that we are prepared to handle large projects,” Cambardella wrote on the SBA site, “I do not believe we would be as competitive if we were facing companies as large as $20m.”

Small business classification isn’t just important for companies looking to work with the US federal government. “It also matters for the large primes,” says Bill Rivers, lobbyist for the Association of Language Companies (ALC). Primes are major corporations that win larger government contracts, then outsource part of that work to small businesses. It’s not uncommon for the US federal government to award translation jobs to primes that don’t have any translation capabilities. As a result, this work sometimes trickles down to small business LSP’s.

Initially, ALC was in favor of the change, with Rivers noting in an October 8 blog that raising the amount was one of ALC’s top seven priorities. But as Cambardella and other members have spoken out against the plan, the association has changed its position. “ALC is taking a neutral position now. We had started out supporting this, but as you see, there are a lot of smaller companies that feel they wouldn’t benefit,” Rivers says.

In a December 22 email that went out to members, the ALC explained that “[t]he SBA must consider each and every comment.” Comments are also entered into the permanent record that accompanies any new regulation. “If the regulation is challenged in court, these comments will help guide the courts in their review,” according to ALC.

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Terena Bell is an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.

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Maldonado named Women in Localization president

Globalization, Internationalization, Interpretation, Language, Language Industry News and Events, Localization, Translation, Uncategorized

Women in Localization has a new president: Argentine translation leader Cecilia Maldonado begins her one-year term today.

Founded in 2008, Women in Localization is a nonprofit organization that works to foster a global community for the advancement of both women and the industry by providing networking, education, career advancement, mentoring, and recognition of women’s accomplishments. Membership is free and both women and men are invited to join.

To select its officers, Women in Localization works through a succession committee. The committee interviews existing board members to determine their goals for the group, then selects a slate of candidates accordingly. Candidates are also interviewed then the final list is presented to the board, which votes. Maldonado served as vice-president in 2020 and was confirmed president for the upcoming year during the board’s last voting session.

In 2020, Women in Localization’s “high level objective” was to focus on growing global membership, “which included setting up a virtual/global chapter to focus on our remote members and provid[ing] stronger support to our non-US chapters,” according to Maldonado. Six new chapters were founded according.

“I’m super excited about my new role at [Women in Localization],” Maldonado emailed. “After constant growth, 2021 will be a year for restructuring and reorganization, simplifying and streamlining our organizational structure so we can set the foundations for enduring success. With 28 chapters in 18 different countries today, we need to step up our game to be ready for the challenges and opportunities growth brings.”

Maldonado is well-known figurehead in the localization field, having cofounded both Translated in Argentina, an industry association, and Think Latin America, a popular conference that later became part of the Globalization and Localization Association’s Think! series. She is also an active volunteer for the Association of Language Companies, a US trade group.

Nimdzi — the organization that owns MultiLingual — is an official Women in Localization partner.

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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ATA Offers Payment Plan to Struggling Members

freelancing, Interpretation, Language Industry News and Events, Translation, Uncategorized

Can’t afford your American Translators Association (ATA) dues? New this year, the organization is allowing members to pay in two installments: 50 percent down now, the remainder in six months. Annual renewal fees cost anywhere from 89 USD to 492 USD, depending on membership type.

This payment plan is a first for ATA and what organization president Ted Wozniak calls “a member benefit [considered] as a token of appreciation for current members who may have financial issues due to the pandemic.” According to a December 30th Tweet, in order to take advantage, members must renew online. ATA currently has more than 10,000 institutional and individual members across more than 103 countries.

“We don’t have hard data on the economic impact of the downturn or the pandemic on our members,” Wozniak emailed MultiLingual. In the United States however — where the ATA finds the bulk of its members — recent Census Bureau surveys reveal self-employed adults were hardest hit by 2020’s economic downturn. In states where at least 25 percent of businesses had to close for temporary quarantines, 13.9 percent of freelancers were forced to rely on food banks, religious or community groups, or friends and family for at least one meal a week. This compares to 8.7 percent of workers who were not freelancers prior to the downturn. The majority of American translators are self-employed.

ATA had planned to conduct a members’ compensation survey in 2020 — a plan Wozniak says was pushed back to this year because of the pandemic. Right now, the association is basing the need for payment plans on “anecdotal stories from members,” he explains, which range from “a near complete loss of business to little or no change to an increase in business — not entirely unexpected given the diversity and dispersion of [translation and interpreting] services around the globe.”

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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Weekly Shorts | January 8, 2021

Interpretation, Language in the News, Weekly Shorts

Baltimore Sun profiles medical interpreter

As covid vaccines begin to be distributed across the United States, more non-language professionals are learning to appreciate the role medical interpreters play. In Baltimore, Maryland, newspaper Baltimore Sun profiled Elsa Aguilar Bustos, who interprets for Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Reporter Stephanie Garcia writes, “When the pandemic began, the hospital was pushing for interpreters to work from home, as a way to minimize exposure and accommodate for the lack of personal protective equipment. Bustos said that was out of the question for her,” working the 11 pm to 8 am shift where she interpreted for as many as ten Spanish-speaking patients at a time.

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ATA Asks CDC Include Interpreters in Vaccine Guidance

Interpretation, Language in the News, Uncategorized

The American Translators Association (ATA) has sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asking it “explicitly include on-site medical interpreters among the listed examples of health care personnel (HCP) eligible for Phase 1 [covid] vaccinations.” Right now, states are allowed to dictate their own vaccine roll-out plans while the CDC issues guidance. In North Carolina, at least one hospital staff interpreter has received the shot. In New York City, councilmember Mark Levine wrote an editorial urging “cleaning staff, translators, cafeteria workers and security guards” not be left out of local distribution plans. And in Massachusetts, hospital-based interpreters are mandated in phase one of the state’s rollout plan already.

The letter also asks the CDC consider on-site community interpreters — specifically those who work in schools, state and local government offices, and the courts — as “other essential workers.”

Twenty organizations co-signed the letter, including Association of Language Companies, Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, National Health Law Program and non-industry associations such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. The full text may be read on ATA’s website here.

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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Want a Vaccine? Better Interpret for a Hospital Direct

freelancing, Interpretation, Uncategorized

To get a vaccine at University of North Carolina (UNC) Health, you need to work for the hospital directly. That’s what Alan Wolf, director of news, had to say when MultiLingual emailed to congratulate the hospital on giving a medical interpreter one of the state’s first covid-19 vaccines. On December 15, Spanish linguist Jorge Gutierrez received UNC Health – Chapel Hill’s second shot of Pfizer’s BNT162b2 — the first of two coronavirus vaccines currently available in the United States.

Gutierrez has been held up as an exemplar by the language services community, as many interpreters — freelancers in particular – have been left to wonder whether US state governments will include medical interpreters in their definition of frontline workers. In the United States, each state determines in which order whom will receive the two-dose vaccinations. The general consensus has been essential medical personnel go first. The broader concern is will hospitals and governments remember interpreters are essential.

Wolf says UNC Health wanted to make sure interpreters were included early “because of their important role in caring for covid patients. Jorge was chosen to represent the [interpreter services] department because of his hard and compassionate work during the pandemic and because he had completed the sign-up process and was available on that first afternoon.” Gutierrez interprets primarily in the hospital’s medical intensive care unit (MICU).

Between the Chapel Hill facility where Gutierrez works and its Raleigh and Hillsborough locations, UNC Health employs 30 Spanish interpreters. It also directly contracts what Wolf calls “a number of per-diem interpreters that we use on an as-needed basis,” as well as with language services providers (LSP’s). Both employee and freelance interpreters will be eligible for the vaccine — if they report directly to the hospital that is. Interpreters who work through a language services provider (LSP) will not. “We would expect their agency/interpreting company to cover their interpreters,” says Wolf. By press, he was yet to respond to a follow-up email from MultiLingual asking if UNC Health plans to provide its LSP’s guidance in how to do this.

Bill Rivers, lobbyist for Association of Language Companies (ALC), says, “It would be a travesty for a health care organization to fob this off on the language service companies.” ALC is currently partnering with the American Translators Association on a letter to send the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and 56 US state and territorial health departments to that effect.

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Terena Bell is an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.

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North Carolina Interpreter Vaccinated

Interpretation, Language in the News, Technology, Uncategorized

Earlier today, MultiLingual asked an important question: Will interpreters receive covid vaccines? In North Carolina at least, we have our answer.

Spanish interpreter Jorge Gutierrez was among the first at University of North Carolina Medical Center to receive the Pfizer vaccine, which arrived at the Chapel Hill hospital Tuesday morning. The hospital received 2,925 doses; the vaccine requires two doses in order to be effective, which means 1,462 people can be treated. WTVD — the local ABC television news affiliate — reports 30 of these will go to UNC Medical Center employees. Gutierrez interprets primarily in the hospital’s medical intensive care unit (MICU).

“It’s a day full of hope,” he told the station.

As coronavirus spread, the language industry has been tempted to rely more heavily on telephone-based interpreting (OPI). But as Gutierrez told Chapel Hill radio station WCHL, coronavirus has given him a brand new appreciation for the level of care that only on-site medical interpreters can provide: “One of the things this [pandemic] has shown us is the importance of having someone who speaks your language helping you communicate at the bedside with providers. It’s something you cannot substitute that easily or complete with the telemedicine efforts we’ve seen happening here.”

Watch Gutierrez receiving his shot in this video at the 1:42 mark and read MultiLingual‘s prior coverage of interpreter vaccine access here.

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Terena Bell is an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.

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