Monthly Archives: January 2014

Award-winning app to help tourists breach language barriers during Pan Am Games – via Nanaimo Daily News


TORONTO – Four Sheridan College students have come up with an innovative idea to breach language barriers for non-English speaking visitors coming to Toronto for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Games.

The students are working on an app that will use a geo-tracking application to help foreign visitors connect in real time with Pan Ambassadors — local volunteers who speak their language.

Chau Le, Yee Ting Lee, Jason Smith and Leena Salem pitched the idea at Idea-A-Thon — a competition held at Sheridan College over the weekend and supported by Cisco Canada.

Cisco awarded their team — called The Fantastic Four — $10,000 to develop the app, which is set to launch in April 2015.

The app will have a map that shows the locations of all the local volunteers and tourists can zoom in on the dots and see their skills and what language they speak.

The students plan to advertise the app in major transit hubs such as Pearson International Airport and Union Station.

Whether the Pan Ambassadors will be wearing any distinguishing items of clothing or accessories has not yet been decided.

To read more of this article courtesy of the Nanaimo Daily News, click the link below.

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State courts’ interpreters to help poor in civil cases — via SF Gate


Foreign-language interpreters, now provided by California courts in criminal and juvenile cases, will be available to low-income people in family law, housing and other civil disputes under a funding plan approved by judicial leaders.

The state Judicial Council voted Thursday to pay for interpreters for indigent people in civil cases, using a $12.9 million surplus in a state fund for criminal-case interpreters. That’s not enough to cover all civil cases, so counties with large populations of non-English speakers will have to concentrate on the most urgent needs, such as child-custody, eviction and debt-collection cases, said Steven Austin, a Contra Costa County judge whose council task force recommended the expansion.

“As a trial judge, you see people come into court and it’s almost impossible to figure out what to do with their case” if they lack an interpreter, Austin said in an interview. “Many people don’t even make it through the courtroom door. They don’t understand the papers, they don’t file an answer and they default. This is a first step to try to correct that problem.”

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chairwoman of the Judicial Council, called the council’s action “an unprecedented step in language access.”

To read more of this article courtesy of SF Gate, click the link below.


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Interpreters for Deaf Cut Through D.C.’s Political Jargon–via The Wall Street Journal


At the annual National Economists’ Club dinner in November, Ben Bernanke suggested that the target for the federal-funds rate would remain near zero for a considerable time. A man named Travis Painter, standing onstage, simultaneously relayed the Federal Reserve chairman’s words.

Mr. Painter is a sign-language interpreter for the deaf, a job that is nowhere more sought-after and difficult than in acronym-and-jargon-filled Washington, D.C. “Terps,” as they call themselves, are charged with re-creating in crystal clarity speeches often known for nuance, importance and opacity.

Today, Mr. Painter is a contractor whose gigs run the gamut from court hearings and testimony to political fundraisers and the White House Easter Egg Roll. At all these events Mr. Painter follows several general signing rules—and many more specific to D.C.’s dialect.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s use of the term “forward guidance” is one thing. But what about interpreting “nuclear option,” “fiscal cliff,” “not his first rodeo” and “that dog don’t hunt?”

“I absolutely just love my field,” says Mr. Painter, an imposingly tall 25-year-old with slender fingers. “I am stumped, every day.”

When lost in a minefield of jargon, the rule is “Spell, and you’re out of there,” Mr. Painter says. He collects acronyms, but new ones always surface. At the National Aeronautics and Space Administration one day, he stopped short at “QWAP,” a vaguely vulgar-sounding acronym that means “Quality Work Assurance Program.”

His client giggled, signed, “I know you don’t get this,” and spelled the cipher for a blushing Mr. Painter. A meeting at Treasury broke up in laughter when Mr. Painter signed a form number, F99, which in sign language looks like three “OK!” symbols in a row. Deaf clients sometimes tell him how odd Washington must sound.

Federal law requires reasonable accommodation for a deaf person, so on any given day, there are about 1,500 sign-language interpreters working full time in the capital.

Sign-language interpreters must check bias at the door. But like most people here, they are politically partisan. Mr. Painter, who originally came to Washington to work as an intern for Senate Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, turned down a lucrative assignment in 2012 to sign for the president and top Democrats at the National Democratic Convention. As a GOP-leaning interpreter, “I could not have matched their level of excitement,” he explains.

To read more of this article courtesy of Wall Street Journal click the link below.



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New statewide service provides free language interpreters for court hearings –via


CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court now offers an all-hours language interpretation service that courts across the state can use at no cost.

The telephonic service includes about 200 languages and is part of a plan to assist local courts with about 25,000 cases a year that require an interpreter, according to Stephanie Beougher, a court spokeswoman

Information on how to access the new interpretation service was recently distributed to all Ohio judges and its use is encouraged for shorter, routine hearings.

According to court guidelines, phone interpreters should be used when no certified or language-skilled interpreter is available in person, when a court hearing would be delayed or when the language required is not common to an area.

The service can also be used to avoid a conflict of interest with family or community interpreters when the population that speaks a specific language is small.

None of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas judges have used the service yet, according to a court spokesperson.

To read more of this article courtesy of, click the link below.

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Interpreter firm fined thousands — via Belfast


The Ministry of Justice withheld £46,139 of payments to Capita between May 2012 and November 2013

A private firm paid to provide court interpreters has been hit with thousands of pounds in fines and penalties by judges and government officials over its poor performance.

The Ministry of Justice withheld £46,139 of payments to Capita between May 2012 and November 2013 – the maximum amount possible, according to a report by a public spending watchdog.

Overall, judges have filed 11 wasted cost orders against the company totalling £7,229 to cover the bill to taxpayers caused by interpreters failing to turn up, the National Audit Office said.

Responsibility for providing translators across England was awarded to ALS, which was  taken over by Capita, at the start of 2012 but staff shortages meant trials were disrupted.

The company has made progress since MPs accused it of causing ”total chaos” in 2012 but the company is still not meeting its target to fulfil 98% of bookings, the NAO said.

Performance dropped significantly over a four-month period when the company cut the amount it pays in mileage, but since interpreters were offered an improved package it now reaches about 94%-95%.

To read more of this article courtesy of Belfast, click the link below.

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