Category Archives: Louis F. Provenzano Foundation

Lobbying for Medical Interpreters in Congress

Lobbying for national language access reimbursement for all States.





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Mandela Interpretation Debacle Could Happen in U.S. —via HuffPost #interpreters

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Written by Louis F. Provenzano Jr.

This is why you need certified interpreters.

The most unbelievable mishap occurred at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. As part of the ceremony paying tribute to this visionary leader and humanitarian, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a most heartfelt speech. His remarks effectively captured the essence of the change in South Africa and the heart and soul of the man behind it.

Obama’s message was clear for millions of people around the world who could understand English.

But what about the hearing impaired?

Inexplicably, the person who was hired to perform sign language for Obama was unable to carry out the duties of a qualified interpreter.

Four experts told the Associated Press that the man’s hand movements were “gibberish,” part of neither American nor South African sign language.

This is an embarrassment beyond belief.

Regrettably, the hearing impaired were injured, the profession of interpretation was injured and the credibility of the South African government was injured.

If this was such a milestone in South Africa, why was this interpreter not properly vetted?

Imagine if this debacle had occurred within the setting of a hospital, a first-emergency response or a courtroom. The consequences for not having a credentialed interpreter could be huge.

The significance of not having a qualified doctor or lawyer is also great. Yet these professionals are always either licensed or certified by their respective states.

To read more of my article, courtesy of the Huffington Post, click the link below.

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Language Time 2013 annual guide to interpreter jobs


Due to high interest in this complimentary publication, the release date has been pushed back to December 15th.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

I am delighted to see that thousands of interpreters are interested in receiving this helpful guide. Glad I can help in your search.

My best to all of you as you seek your ideal interpretation career.




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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Foundation Launches to Accelerate Certification

NEW YORK, N.Y., June 26, 2013  (Eteligis via Accesswire) — Louis F. Provenzano, language advocate, co-founder of the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, and a renowned interpreter advocate, today announced the launch of a non-profit foundation to accelerate the certification of medical interpreters.

The Louis F. Provenzano Foundation for Certified Medical Interpreters, a 501(c)(3) foundation, will work to assist medical interpreters with training and National Board certification expenses. The foundation’s Board of Directors, to be announced at a later date, will include leading subject matter experts globally in the medical interpretation industry.

In order to fulfill its mission, the Foundation will seek donations from hospitals, government agencies and other interested parties to fund grants to those interpreters who need assistance in getting trained and certified.

“Often, the difference between life and death is being understood by a highly trained and qualified medical interpreter,” Provenzano said. “It is an honor to have my foundation support the cause through more extensive and better training that leads to an increase in the number of interpreters certified through the National Board.”

Izabel Arocha, Executive Director of the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), the world’s largest association for medical interpreters, credited Provenzano with “continuing to remove language barriers for limited English speakers.”

“As the previous CEO of Language Line Services (now LanguageLine Solutions) and the co-founder of the National Board, Louis brings unparalleled passion and respect to the cause,” Arocha said. “His leadership on the issue of certifying medical interpreters has been critical in advancing patient safety and raising awareness for what it truly means to be a professional medical interpreter.”

To date approximately 750 interpreters have received the Certified Medical Interpreters (CMI) designation. The oral performance exam is given in Spanish, Russian, Cantonese and Mandarin. The exam will be available shortly in Korean and Vietnamese. Plans to expand to other languages are underway by the National Board.

Tina Peña, Chair of the National Board, called Provenzano the “undisputed expert on language access, and the foremost spokesperson for the need of qualified and certified medical interpreters. “

“Louis is one of those truly exceptional leaders who puts his mind, heart and soul into all aspects of a critical issue,” Peña said. “The impact of his support cannot be overstated.”

More information will be available on the foundation’s website, which will launch in September.

About the National Board

The mission of the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (National Board) is to foster improved healthcare outcomes, patient safety and patient/provider communication, by elevating the standards for and quality of medical interpreting through a nationally recognized and validated certification for medical interpreters. The certified medical interpreter (CMI) certification program is governed by the National Board, an independent division of the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA). For more information, visit:

About IMIA

The International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA) is a U.S.-based international organization committed to the advancement of professional medical interpreters as the best practice to equitable language access to health care for linguistically diverse patients. Founded in 1986, with over 2,000 members, most providing interpreting services in over 70 languages, the IMIA is the oldest and largest medical interpreter association in the country. For more information, visit:

About Louis F. Provenzano Foundation for Certified Medical Interpreters

The Louis F. Provenzano Foundation for Certified Medical Interpreters works to assist medical interpreters with training and National Board Certification expenses. Provenzano is a language advocate, co-founder of the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, a renowned interpreter advocate, and former President and chief executive officer of Language Line Services (now Language Line Solutions). For more information, visit

Tina Peña
Chair, National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters


© Accesswire 2013
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