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Crown seeks to split trial over interpreter shortage (Canada)


The Crown is taking the rare step of asking a judge to “sever” a trial for two people accused in the same case because of a lack of qualified language interpreters, an issue plaguing the province’s justice system.
The joint trial can’t proceed as planned over the next three to four weeks because there is no accredited Arabic interpreter available for one of the defendants, Prosecutor Glenn Crisp said Wednesday. The interpreter issue has dogged the province for years, and has recently worsened as the attorney-general’s ministry struggles to impose tough new standards.
Crisp told Ontario Superior Court Justice Alfred O’Marra that there is only one accredited Arabic court interpreter in all of Ontario, and he is unwilling to do long trials. He asked O’Marra to split the trials of Farsi-speaker Shahin Pirouzi, 31, and Arabic speaker Mahmoud Abou Al Rashta, 41, who are jointly charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The interpreter shortage is dogging other cases.
In 2009, the province instituted a new, more comprehensive testing system for court interpreters. Of the 225 who took the test, 34 per cent failed and are considered unaccredited. Those who received a mark of between 51 and 70 per cent are “conditionally” accredited.
The Court Interpreters Association of Ontario maintains the test was unfair and doesn’t accurately reflect court conditions.
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Rhode Island to improve interpreter services after ACLU complaint (U.S.)


The state of Rhode Island has agreed to improve language services, after a 2007 complaint from the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union that was prompted when the state laid off several interpreters.
The state announced Tuesday that the Rhode Island Department of Human Services has signed an agreement with the federal government to improve the assistance given to people who speak little or no English.
The state in 2007 laid off all its southeast Asian language interpreters as well as one of two Portuguese interpreters. That prompted a complaint from the ACLU that the state was violating a 1997 agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that the state provide timely interpreter services.
The governor’s office did not immediately provide details of the agreement. Read More...

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Controversy over the use of simultaneous interpretation in the Spanish Congress (source in Spanish)


The Partido Popular (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Español, PSOE) have agreed to rule out the possibility of launching a system of simultaneous interpretation in the Congress similar to the one implemented by the Senate on Tuesday for the co-official languages. Read more. Read More...

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New career opportunities for medical interpreters in U.S.


Federal laws have been on the books for years requiring medical institutions to provide interpreters to non-native speakers, but there has been little enforcement of the provisions until recently. Now the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies more than 18,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States, is establishing new standards effective in January requiring hospitals to provide language interpreting and translation services.
The new provisions are expected to further fuel the demand for medical interpreters, which were already in short supply.
Even before the new standards were introduced, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted jobs for interpreters and translators would grow by 22 percent over the next decade, faster than the average for all other occupations. Meanwhile a nationwide survey of 4,700 doctors, conducted by the nonprofit Center for Studying Health System Change, found that only 55.8 percent of practices with non-English speaking patients provide interpreting services, and 40 percent offer patient-education materials in languages other than English.
Medicaid currently reimburses the medical provider for the services of an interpreter. Depending on the state, a medical interpreter can make $25 to $50 an hour. In the private sector, they can command upwards of $100 an hour. However, it can be even more costly to forego the services of an interpreter, said Dr. Olgierda Furmanek, an associate professor at Wake Forest University who has designed a new graduate level curriculum in response to this burgeoning career opportunity. Read More...

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State of Oregon first to adopt national certification for medical interpreters


The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters announced today that the State of Oregon has become the first state in the nation to officially adopt and endorse the Certification for Medical Interpreters (CMI) through the National Board.
Patients in the United States with limited English proficiency (LEP) continue to face language barriers that threaten their health and undermine their well-being. This first of its kind national interpreting standard provides professional interpreters working in the medical field with the opportunity to be tested and credentialed as certified interpreters.
The Oregon Office of Multicultural Health & Services also has awarded a grant to the National Board for the development of oral certification exams in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. CMI launched the first national certification exam for Spanish in October 2009. Read More...

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