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The Unsung Roles of Court Interpreters

Court interpreters are vital in ensuring that your Limited English Proficiency (LEP) or non-English speaking clients understand the legal proceedings just as if they spoke English fluently themselves. However, interpreting during proceedings is just part of what court interpreters do each day. Here are 4 things you may not realize about the role of court interpreters.  


1.     Court interpreters are always learning and improving to maintain the appropriate skillset needed to remain at a highly proficient and professional level in the court setting. Just as language is always evolving, so is the law. Interpreters often take courses and seminars to stay up-to-date in their field of expertise in order to ensure they are providing the best legal interpreting services in and out of the courtrooms. Not only do they need to stay up-to-speed with new legal terms and court procedures, they also need to remain current when it comes to language that may be used by clients within the courtroom, including changes to regional dialects and slang.

2.     There are various methods for court interpreting, depending on the scenario. Most court interpreting is done via simultaneous interpreting. The interpreter may wear a set of headphones with a microphone and interpret in real time for the client, who is also wearing a headset. However, not all courts are equipped with these headsets, and/or the setting may call for consecutive interpreting instead. In this latter scenario, the interpreter waits until the speaker has completed a sentence or thought before he or she begins speaking.

3.     Interpreters often work in teams to avoid fatigue. Interpreting for any length of time can come with mental and physical fatigue. Because of this, team interpreting is an industry standard for proceedings that last longer than 2 hours. This helps prevent being overworked, and alternating between two highly qualified interpreters will help the proceedings move more quickly, efficiently, and accurately—a definite benefit for you and your clients.

4.     They are often asked to do sight reading/translation of documents presented during the trial. The interpreter must then read the document in one language, and recite what it says aloud in another language so that all parties understand what it says.

How has your experience been with court interpreters? If you’ve come across anything in your experience that surprised you when working with an interpreter, we’d love to hear about it! Let us know by leaving a comment!

Looking Beyond Your ESL Teachers for Translation/Interpreting Needs

Looking Beyond Your ESL Teachers for Translation/Interpreting Needs

It may be tempting to use your English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers to translate texts your school needs in another language, or to ask them to interpret for parents who don’t speak English well. However, it is important to note that unless they have a background as a professional translator or interpreter in the particular field you need, your ESL teachers are not those best skilled to handle this task.

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The Benefits of Interpreters for Senior Care

The Benefits of Interpreters for Senior Care

Using professional interpreters in senior care is essential to providing Limited English Proficiency (LEP) patients access to appropriate care and services. Having an interpreter available also helps ensure that a patient understands what medical professionals are recommending or requesting and that the patient is satisfied with his or her care. In fact, many doctors and nurses require the assistance of interpreters not only to overcome the obvious language barriers, but also to navigate potential cultural differences. 

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What information does ATS consider when providing my free quote?

For each project that ATS handles, we consider several different factors when it comes to providing your free quote. We will consider the project type or service you request, the source and target languages of your project, and the timeline in which the project needs to be completed. No matter what project you need handled, ATS will be sure to offer you the most competitive rates possible while taking these items into consideration.

A legal document should be handled differently than a technical operating manual and ATS takes project type into account. Since these two areas are so distinct, we have teams of different linguists who work on each one. It is important that our linguists be highly specialized in the content area you request. We have a wide array of linguists with many specialties, so doing so is usually not a problem. If we do not have a specialist in your project’s subject area, ATS will work to recruit someone who is able to handle your project type.

We also take source and target languages into consideration. Language combinations that are more rare sometimes require us to charge higher rates than some of the more common language combinations, for example.

ATS also takes your desired/needed timeline into consideration when providing your free quote. A job that does not need to be returned immediately, and will not rush the linguists who are working on the project for you, will not require any additional fees. However, if the project turnaround time will require our linguists to work overtime-type hours to finish it within the desired timeline, we may need to add rush fees to the quote. You will have the chance to accept the fees or change the timeline of the project.

Interpreting is quoted differently than document translation, since the services require a different set of skills. Similar to translation, however, the type of interpreting service needed will also be something ATS considers when providing your quote. Interpreting for a surgery is handled differently than interpreting for a legal deposition, for example. ATS offers varying types of interpreting services, such as in-person or over-the-phone interpreting. We also take source and target languages into account, just as we do for document translation, as well as the time required for our interpreter to be available. If an interpreter needs to be available for longer than a normal working period, we may need to charge additional fees.

No matter what project or service you need, ATS will be happy to answer any questions you may have and will always provide you with the most competitive rates possible. Please don’t hesitate to email us at so that one or our Project Managers can assist you at every step along the way – we are happy to help!

So, what languages can you handle?

Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS) handles a wide array of languages, and this selection of languages is ever-growing. For our most current and up-to-date list of offered languages, please see our List of Languages. If the language you are looking for is not listed here, that does not mean we are unable to provide the service, however. This list of languages is constantly growing depending on our clients’ needs, so we recommend contacting us even if you don’t see the language you need listed.

Our list of languages that we currently offer displays all languages for which we already have a team (or several teams) of linguists we’ve assessed, worked with, and approved to offer quality translation and/or interpreting services for you. Although we have linguists already approved for these language pairs, we will ensure that the best linguists we can provide are assigned to your project. If our current available linguists do not have experience working in the field your project falls into, we will be glad to use our available resources to recruit a team who will be best-suited to perform the work on your project, whenever possible. For example, if your document is a rental agreement, and our linguists with expertise in legal documents are unavailable, we will then recruit another team to ensure the best possible translation.

This is also true for the languages not currently listed on our page. If the language you are working from or into is not listed on our page, please contact us and let us know the details of your project. We will then be able to begin recruiting a team for your project type. We do all of the recruitment and assessment of linguists so that you don’t have to, and so that you can feel comfortable knowing that the right team of linguists is working to provide you with the best service possible. Our Project Management Team will also oversee the project from start to finish, handling all linguist communication, file passes, and quality control. This way, by the time you receive the translated files, you can be sure they have been handled not only a professional team of linguists, but also a quality control check to ensure your files are ready for use in your target language. No matter which language your document would need to be translated from or into, Accessible Translation Solutions is willing and glad to assist with the best team of linguists for your project.

Solutions for Part-time Interpreting Needs

It doesn’t always make smart business sense to hire an on-site interpreter to be present during all business hours. Many times, your company may go days, weeks or even longer without ever needing someone to interpret for limited English proficiency (LEP) individuals. However, it’s a good idea to have a plan for what to do in the situations when one might be needed. This will help ensure that your company is able to provide services for these individuals. So what options do you have? One option is to have an on-call interpreter who can visit the site as needed, either for short or long-term assignments. The interpreter will be able to provided face-to-face assistance with your customer. This is a great option for when you are able to schedule the LEP individual’s visit in advance, or when you may need more long-term assistance.

When waiting for an interpreter to arrive to assist face-to-face is not realistic or when you may only need quick assistance, telephonic interpretation may make more sense. Telephonic interpreters provide an easy and reliable solution when a customer comes into your office or calls needing assistance, for example.

While hiring a full-term interpreter to be present on-site can make sense for your company if you have a consistent need to interpret for LEP individuals, it is good to have other options for when this isn’t the case. At ATS, we are glad to help your company plan for any situation that may arise in which interpreting would be the best solution. Click here to request a free consultation today.

All interpreting is not created equal

All interpreting is not created equal. A potential client said something along these lines to us recently and we thought, “Wow. This person really gets it.” This might be a hard concept for many to grasp, especially without a background in language learning or bilingualism, however it’s something we find that more and more clients realize and it’s what sets them apart from their own competition. One might ask, “Well, if you have speakers of two languages and an interpreter present, why is not all interpreting considered equal?” Take the incident that occurred at the funeral for the late Nelson Mandela. Onlookers were appalled that the sign language interpreter was signing phrases that made little to no sense and that clearly were not an accurate rendition of what was spoken during the ceremony. South African officials were ashamed and social media blew up over the incident.

Think about whether or not your brand could afford such an incident in the public eye. Vetting and hiring professionals is key in making sure that the individuals who speak on behalf of your brand will deliver. Contracting professional interpreters (or translators) is no different. Imagine this scenario.

You have a business meeting in two days and you’ve hired an interpreter to assist for a two-hour meeting with a potential client who could boost your company’s sales and visibility. You’ve sent all of the materials to be covered in the meeting to the interpreter ahead of time so that he/she can come prepared. On the day of the meeting, the interpreter shows up late and is stumbling through the assignment, obviously ill prepared. You find out later that the client understood very little of the interpreter’s rendition of the content and that there are still many unanswered questions. What could this mean for your company’s potential contract with this new client? Did you just lose the opportunity to do business with them? Do you bring them back for another meeting with a new interpreter? What does this say to your client about your brand?

Most certainly in life mistakes happen, and you might have hired the wrong interpreter for the meeting. However, if mistakes can be avoided, why not take the steps beforehand to ensure accurate interpreting of the meeting and possibly win a contract that could grow your business?

It seems that more and more people are catching on to the concept that our potential client mentioned: “All interpreting (or translation) is not created equal.” Branding is not only about the content your team creates, but rather, in all of your interactions with others. Hiring professionals who are trained and well versed in a specific content area is key for your business. It’s also crucial for interpreting and translation.

Have you ever been in a situation in which an interpreter was present and misinterpreted the content of a conversation or speech? What did the poor interpreting say about the company or organization for which he/she was interpreting?

“Obamacare” and LEPs: How does the law upheld by the Supreme Court affect the translation/interpretation industry?

What a week it’s been in politics! Now that the Health Care Law has finally gone before the Supreme Court, which upheld it on a 5 to 4 vote, those of us who work in medical translation and interpretation on a daily basis want to know: What does this mean for us?! For most Americans, the Health Care Law has been confusing from the start. However, imagine how confusing it could be for those millions of Americans who have limited English proficiency (LEP). This can be even more confusing for them. What are their rights? First, we have to look at what the rights have been so far for these individuals when it comes to language access in health care.

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

Executive Order 13166, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” (42 U.S.C. Section 2000d). In short, any organization, whether a clinic, hospital or other health care facility that receives federal funding must comply with this executive order by providing language access (free of charge) to LEP individuals. This is also true in areas of law and other fields, but for the sake of this post, we’ll stick to the health care issue at hand.

Unfortunately, many health care facilities will try to get around this law by asking patients to bring a friend or family member who is bilingual, or many times, they’ll have someone on staff come in to “interpret” for LEP patients. For those who work as interpreters and language agency owners or project managers, we know that this is a bigger problem, as those individuals are usually not trained in the medical terminology needed to carry out the appointment, nor are they trained in the fine skill of interpretation. Much of these attempts to weasel one’s way out of providing professional, quality service stems from the fact that these facilities have to foot the bill.

Don’t get us wrong. Many, many hospitals and doctors offices DO comply with Title VI;, however, many, many more do not. According to the National Center on Immigration Policy, LEP individuals accounted for 25.2 million (9%) of the population in 2010, although large concentrations of these demographics were attributed to states like California, Texas, New York, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico and Massachusetts, among others. More and more states are seeing a rising number in minority populations whose first language is not English. In fact, although the Latino population has had steady growth in the past ten years, just recently, Asian Americans became the fastest-growing minority in the U.S.

So, what does all this have to do with language access in the health care debate?

One of the biggest issues in the political discussion on health care has been cutting costs and allowing all to receive health care and be insured. Although we may not see health care insurance covering the cost of language access for LEP patients anytime soon, we should see money saved by both insurance companies and health care facilities that provide professional language services to patients, as many more individuals will be able to go to the doctor and receive the care they need. Those who do not provide these services, but rather, rely on untrained individuals or (even more sadly) no one at all, will see their costs go up and possibly skyrocket, because miscommunications often lead to more doctor’s visits and adverse events that could have otherwise been avoided by providing proper language access to their LEP patients.

One section of the law discusses the implementation of effective approaches and specifically identifies “the ongoing, accurate, and timely collection and evaluation of data on health care disparities on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status.” This data will be invaluable to many of us and it will be interesting to see if the information on patients’ primary languages affects the way that health care providers are reimbursed for offering professional language access services to patients.

Although up until now health care providers have not reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid, we may see this change as a result of the passing of the Health Care Law. Provenzano argues, “Ultimately, one of the best arguments for Medicare reimbursement for language services is that the services themselves represent the linguistic equivalent of preventive care. By spending modestly up front to communicate effectively with LEP patients, Medicare—as well as Medicaid and private insurers—can save significantly through the prevention of costly errors.”

For those of us in the interpretation and translation industry, we will see a larger need from our clients who require on-site and telephonic oral interpretation, as well as the translation of vaccination records, consent forms, insurance policies, prescriptions, medical charts, etc. We’ll be on the edge of our seats to see what the next several years hold in store for all of us as Americans, especially LEP patients and we who provide professional language access to them every day.

For more information on LEP rights, please visit