Friday, February 17, 2012

GREAT NEWS!!! ABA Standards Have Been Adopted

My July 14, 2011 posting was about the development of national standards for language access in US courts by the American Bar Association (ABA). These standards represent an additional step towards the goal of overcoming language barriers in court proceedings by providing guidelines for courts and state court administrators across the United States in the design, implementation, and enforcement of a comprehensive system of language access services that suit the needs of their communities. Sadly, in my August 23 post I reported that the ABA’s House of Delegates tabled discussion of the Standards to their February 2012 meeting. I am happy to report – finally – that the Standards were recently adopted  --in an amended form.  Rob Cruz, Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters (NAJIT), and a resilient proponent of the Standards, will write an article for the next Proteus – NAJITS’s newsletter – on the process, next steps, and what the amendments to the Standards mean. In the meantime, I am happy to provide a link to the adopted Standards.

I will certainly write here on Mr. Cruz’ report as soon as it becomes available.  While the Standards do not have binding force, their adoption by the  America Bar Association’s House of Delegates marks a milestone in language access for Limited English  Proficient  (LEP) persons and for the development of court interpreting in this US.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winds of Change in South Carolina: Interpreter training and certification is gaining momentum

An idea that germinated for a long time has finally come true: South Carolina has its own interpreter and translators association.  For the longest time, certified court interpreters in South Carolina dreamed of having an association of their own.  While not completely operational just yet, the South Carolina Association of Interpreters and Translators (SCAIT) has come into being “to advance the interpreting and translating professions in South Carolina and to foster communication among professional interpreters and translators across our state, as well as with the communities they serve."

South Carolina joined the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts (formerly the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification) in 2005 but the court interpreter certification process was rather slow, and there was virtually no communication between certified interpreters and the South Carolina Court Administration, the entity responsible for the court interpreter certification process in the state. Around 2010, Cyndy Hern√°ndez, Lydia Lester, Luna Gainer, and Carla Collins (who since relocated out of state), all graduates of the Masters’ in Interpreting of the College of Charleston– started discussing the creation of professional association in the state.  Laura Cahue, also a College of Charleston’s MA in Interpreting graduate, joined these efforts, which have come to fruition. SCAIT’s first activity, "Certifications, Certificates, and Qualifications: What is all this?", was a free workshop held in Columbia –the  state’s capital city–  on November 12, 2011, The workshop was offered to help prospective interpreters and translators in South Carolina understand key terms, concepts, and entities of the field, including what it means to be certified, the difference between certification and a certificate, the meanings of the terms qualified and qualifications, the various organizations that offer certification credentials, etc.  Understanding these terms and concepts are also extremely important to consumers of interpreter/translator services to make sure credentials claimed by interpreters and translators are the proper ones. 

SCAIT is already holding its second activity, Law School for Interpreters: An Overview of the South Carolina Court System; a workshop to be held on Saturday, February 11, 2012 at the South Carolina Bar Conference Center in Columbia. Organized and presented by the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission's LEP Workgroup, this activity is part of a series of educational workshops provided to the interpreting community and is aimed at anyone with interpreting experience who is interested in learning more about court interpretation. This workshop has a participation fee of $35.00 per person, which includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, and all materials. Not a bad deal at all! For this second activity, SCAIT has the support of Catholic Charities Diocese of Charleston Immigration Office, Comunicar, South Carolina Access to Justice Commission, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program, South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs, South Carolina Court Administration South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA), South Carolina Association of Interpreters and Translators (SCAIT), National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) , South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS), South Carolina Legal Services, South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind and South Carolina Immigrant Victim Network,  and South Carolina Victim Assistance Network. 

The lengthy list of sponsors attests to the strides SCAIT has made in very short period of time.  My heartfelt congratulations go to SCAIT Board of Directors; thanks to these tenacious women, interpreters and translators in South Carolina have a voice that can and has been heard.