The Bench and Bar Committee of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) has recently made available a PowerPoint Presentation aimed at attorneys with important information on court interpreters and court interpretation, including a description of the legislation that guarantees the right to an interpreter for limited English proficient persons. As basic as it might seem, the presentation also describes the difference between translation and interpretation. Hopefully, this will help some attorneys know how to request the right professional; an interpreter for oral renditions and a translator for written ones. Besides details on ethics and role of the interpreter, the presentation lists the qualifications interpreters should have, standards of practices of the profession and, very importantly, the challenges court interpreters face such as fatigue, speed of speech, and acoustics. It also provides tips for working with interpreters and important elements attorneys should know about them, such as the interpreter’s role in court settings including depositions, interviews, and mediation.
While the information provided in this tool will be more useful for attorneys in states where the language access ‘movement,’ so to speak, is lagging behind, there is no doubt it is a valuable resource for all. It is like a handy ‘road map.’ The only comment I have is that it would be worth elaborating a bit more on some of the topics; for example, on the certification process under the rubric ‘Qualifications and Standards of Practice’. It would be good for attorneys and other interpreter service consumers to know, briefly, what it means to be a certified interpreter and what the certification processes entails. Equally important for all consumers of interpreting services is to know that a certified interpreter is a professional who has trained to acquire or develop the necessary skills and has taken written and oral performance exams to have these skills tested and certified by a specific certifying body. Having a certification (of participation in a seminar or other training activity, for example) or to be qualified by other instances do not mean being a certified interpreter.