Category Archives: Language Certification

Arizona courts begin certification of language interpreters –via AP

KNXV Arizona court_1455285379826_31808087_ver1.0_900_675.jpg

(Picture courtesy of Getty.)

PHOENIX – Arizona’s state court system is moving to require certification of foreign-language interpreters used by courts.

Under Arizona’s program, courts that employ full-time language interpreters will be required to have their interpreters credentialed by mid-2019, or within 24 months of hiring of interpreters hired in mid-2017 or later.

The Administrative Office of the Courts says 45 other states already have credentialing programs for court interpreters to help ensure equal justice under the law.

To read more of this article courtesy of the AP —>click here


As need for interpreters grows, Alaska courts look to technology to save money –via Alaska Dispatch News

Written by: Hope Miller
Court-certified interpreter Yolanda Martinez-Ley poses in front of the Nesbett Courthouse in downtown Anchorage on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Bob Hallinen / ADN

The Alaska Court System will see hundreds of requests for interpreting services this year, and that volume has staff looking to technology to streamline what can become a complex and costly process.

When a qualified interpreter of a language requested isn’t in Alaska, the court system looks Outside, sometimes flying people up for events like trials.

“The reason for that is because many of the courtroom proceedings are really complicated and it takes a really high-level skill to interpret,” said Brenda Aiken, Language Services director for the Alaska Court System.

Certified interpreters

Yolanda Martinez-Ley, 52, is one of two court-certified interpreters in Alaska — a tier above the roughly 20 registered interpreters available to the court system through the Alaska Institute for Justice’s Language Interpreter Center. Certified interpreters must pass a rigorous exam and are the preferred people to handle major happenings like criminal trials “that are potentially going to take away someone’s liberty,” said Stacey Marz, director of the Alaska Court System’s Family Law Self-Help Center.

Early on in her life, Martinez-Ley — who interprets for Spanish speakers — realized she had a knack for languages. She picked up Bulgarian before studying in the Balkan country, took French and Italian classes and eventually learned English. Originally from Cuba, she lived in Canada before coming to Alaska in 2008. It was in Anchorage that she began her journey to becoming a professional interpreter with help from the Language Interpreter Center. When the court system isn’t requesting her services, she works as a freelance interpreter and is also a certified medical interpreter.

Some court events are more grisly than others, Martinez-Ley says. An attempted-murder trial where the defendant made threats in the courtroom sticks out in her mind. She thinks court interpreting has made her more perceptive to when people are lying, but her job requires her to stay neutral and simply interpret what people are saying.

For her, court interpreting is a way to level the playing field for the parties involved in a case. Citing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Barb Jacobs — program manager of the Language Interpreter Center — says the community also has a responsibility to provide language services. Aiken says the court system has been responsive to “increasing language diversity needs.”

“We want to ensure that anyone coming into the court understands to the fullest of their ability what’s happening to them, or for them, however you look at that,” Aiken said.

To read more of this article courtesy of Alaska Dispatch News —–> click here

In 2016, Health Care Providers are Required to Work with Certified or Qualified Medical Interpreters —OHCIA



Oregon Health Bill 2419 has been revised for 2016 to include a requirement that health care providers work with certified or qualified health care interpreters whenever possible.

It is important for all health care interpreters to complete the certification and qualification process as soon as possible.

To read more of the Oregon bill with OHCIA—–>click here

Capitol Alert: Jerry Brown vetoes bill to give Medi-Cal interpreters union rights –via The Fresno Bee


Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the state budget at a news conference at the state Capitol in Sacramento in January. RANDALL BENTON —

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have given thousands of Medi-Cal interpreters the right to join a public employee union and bargain collectively with the state.

Assembly Bill 1263, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, would have established a certification process and registry of medical interpreters, a measure proponents said would better regulate a service that is critical to patients who do not speak English.

But the bill was also significant to labor unions that believe implementation of the federal healthcare overhaul will result in a wave of new patients and medical professionals they hoped to add to their union ranks.

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

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Q&A with Louis Provenzano and Izabel Arocha –via GALA



Q&A with Louis Provenzano and Izabel Arocha

October 03, 2013

Recently, GALA asked Louis Provenzano, longtime interpreting advocate and former CEO of Language Line Services, about his new foundation to support interpreter training and certification. We also asked Izabel Arocha, Executive Director of the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), to share some of her insights on this topic. Here is what they had to say:

GALA: What is the mission of the foundation?

Louis Provenzano: The Foundation’s principle mission is to provide funding that is sorely needed for the training expenses as well as the application costs for the tests from The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters to get certified as a medical interpreter.

Izabel Arocha: The Louis Provenzano Foundation will be a great resource for those that advocate for safe and accurate communication between providers and patients who do not speak English. Until we have all interpreters nationally certified, we simply cannot ascertain which interpreters are minimally competent to interpret in a health care situation. It is too risky to leave it up to hospitals to assess language and interpreting skills. National certification has been well accepted and hospitals can save money now that they can opt to hire previously trained and qualified nationally certified medical interpreters.

GALA: Why is medical interpreting so important?

LP: Often the difference between life and death is being understood. Just as you rightfully would expect a medical doctor, nurse or an anesthesiologist to be trained and credentialed, it must be no different for medical interpreters. The medical interpreters are the vital link in removing the language barrier between the patient and the medical team. It is critical that medical interpreters be certified and credentialed. Would you go to a surgeon that was not properly trained and credentialed?  I am sure not —it is the same for medical interpreters that play such a pivotal role in removing language barriers in the medical field.

GALA: Why do interpreters need assistance in training and certification?

LP: The expenses to get trained and prepared for the National Board test and the test fees itself are an expense for which many medical interpreters need financial assistance. The Louis F. Provenzano foundation aims to help interpreters that need financial assistance so that they have the possibility of being credentialed and certified in a manner that does not cause any financial hardship.

IA: The demand for qualified medical interpreters keeps growing. The Foundation seems to address a major obstacle to national certification. Funding. Fully bilingual individuals who have the language proficiency to be trained and certified as medical interpreters sometimes lack the financial means to do so. Training has shifted from short intensive occupational programs to costlier university educational programs. Training is a pre-requisite to sit for the National Board Exams. After training takes place then cost might become a barrier to take the national certification exam as well. This has delayed the process and states cannot require national certification until we have a large enough number of certified medical interpreters (CMIs) to cover the needs of language minority patients.

GALA: How does the foundation work with the National Board and the IMIA?

LP: My foundation will shortly announce a formal Board of Directors and will shortly finalize the 501(c)(3) status to start the fund raising process. The Foundation will work with various members of the National Board and the IMIA to ensure that there exists a fair and transparent standard for grants to be distributed. As a co-founder of the National Board, my foundation will work closely with the IMIA and the National Board to ensure that this process is a fair and transparent process for grants.

GALA: How can interpreters apply for grants?

LP: Once the criteria for grants have been agreed by IMIA, The National Board, and the Foundation, there will be full details made available for medical interpreters that are interested in getting certified.  At that time medical interpreters can visit the websites of the National Board of Certification for Medical InterpretersIMIA or the Foundation for further information. All three organizations will be making this information readily available for interested parties.

GALA: How are you fundraising and how can others get involved?

LP: We plan to go to the various different hospital foundations such as Kaiser Permanente Foundation and other large charity organizations to seek funds for the Foundation. Additionally, there are many corporations and philanthropic individuals that have already expressed an interest in assisting the Foundation. There are numerous discussions underway with Government Health and Social Services that are interested in playing a key role to support the cause of certified medical interpreters for the United States and ensuring patient safety in all languages.

IA: I am very pleased that all those that advocate for safe language access in healthcare now will be able to support the Foundation by providing funding for this process to take place in a larger scale. Our ultimate goal in the IMIA is to get every medical interpreter certified in the future, to ensure the safety of language minority patients.

The Foundation welcomes all volunteers and those interested in looking to support the cause should contact Maria Schwieter, Interim Chair of the National Board at for more information.


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