Monthly News Archives: February 2015


Medical and ASL

OSTI was at the Legislature today. We presented, and it was good! Five spoken language interpreters were there, and we connected with ASL people as well. We all want to work together to make the bill better. See Chad Ludwig, President of the Oregon Association of the Deaf, speak to the issue here. Of course, he speaks in his language: ASL. No interpreting provided. However, the same picture we posted on our website is on their site!

This bill shows court, medical and ASL people committed to working together, symbolizing the unity we have in OSTI. It was a great experience!

If you click on this link you can see the recording of the session and “be there.” More news later! The bill is HB 2419. More work to be done on Monday at the OHA Council! And then it goes to the Senate…

We are very proud of the interpreters who came and supported the bill and OSTI’s efforts, and the ASL efforts. Congratulations!


February 6 – Health Care Interpreter Advocacy

Please don’t forget to come to Salem! We look forward to being present to support the changes the Oregon Health Authority has made to the Health Care Interpreter Bill. Our presence still matters, whether physically or by letters of support.

As professionals, our involvement in these issues is critical. We look forward to seeing you there. The details are at this post.

See you in Salem!

My cell phone is 503-929-8476, and my email is

Helen Eby
OSTI President


Advocacy update – Amendments we support

Today we received an email from Carol Cheney, at the Oregon Health Authority:

Each time a bill gets amended it gets a number after it in sequential order from “-1”, “-2”, “-3” and so on.

We now have a -2 amendment for the bill, which we think addresses your concerns and valuable input.

The amendment allows us to do the following:

• Deletes line 10 on page 5- Removes internship requirement
• Page 4, line 28- clarifies ethics training requirement is “medical interpreting ethics”
• Page 4, line 31- adds interpreting skills
• Adds “or who communicate in sign language” throughout the bill


Our response?

At OSTI, we support all these amendments!
• We had requested removal of the internship requirement because it causes significant confusion and is a barrier to Qualification. The OHA was able to understand this and remove it.
• We had requested clarification that interpreters study “medical interpreting ethics”, not “medical ethics”.
• We had requested that the OHA add interpreting skills to the list of topics covered in formal training for interpreters. Previously, it had not been listed.
• The ASL interpreters requested being included as “or who communicate in sign language”. We support this change.

However, we believe that there is one additional change should be made for the sake of clarity. The Bill, in Section 5, ORS 413.558 reads as follows:

(7) “A person may not use the title of “certified health care interpreter” in this state unless that person has met the requirements for certification established under subsections (1) and (6) of this section and has been issued a valid certification by the authority.

We are concerned with the confusion this may cause with those certified by CCHI, the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, who grant this certification: Certified Healthcare Interpreter, a nationally recognized credential, which has trademarked the use of that phrase.

We suggest that Oregon adopt the title “Oregon Certified Health Care Interpreter” as the certification granted for those certified under the Oregon law, which is consistent with the model already established in the statute governing the Oregon court interpreting program: Oregon Certified Court Interpreter.

We attach CCHI’s letter of support on this issue.

2015-02-05-CCHI-Oregon HouseBill 2419-comments (2)


February 6: Medical Interpreting Advocacy Day

Place: Busick Court, 250 Court St., Salem, OR 97301
Time: 11:15 to 12:15
What: Connect, practice our two minute speeches
Why Busick Court?
Well… because that is the same place where we met with the Court interpreters a few years ago and did the same thing. It worked! And we have good memories. Maybe some of them will come and encourage us.
Look for Helen Eby, wearing a red hat (a “gaucha” hat, just to be different)

12:15 – start walking to the Legislature.

12:30: Check in to room HR E, with the names of our assigned speakers and their topics. We will be asked to sign a check-in sheet, and we will be asked who will speak for us.
It is important to get there early. The room fills up and we want our folks to have a seat. We want to connect with the ASL people, and with the other stakeholders.
Check the tips for how to be ready to give testimony!
Your written testimony (10 printed copies, one for each member of the committee and one for the secretary). You can address it to “Dear Member of the House Committee on Health Care”
sample-testimony-letter-for-interpreters-rtf feb 5 2015
One 3×5 card with the outline of what you want to say.
One visual aid to illustrate your one or two main points.

1:00 pm: Public Hearing
Remember: This bill covers a lot of issues. They could decide to cover any number of issues before they get to the Health Care Interpreter issues. Nothing says they will start with us! So be patient. Actually, if they start with something else, that’s great! Watch how the other speakers introduce themselves. Watch how they address the legislators, how the legislators respond, etc. Watch what the legislators don’t like (and make sure you scratch that from what you do). You might as well learn something!

After it’s over:
Hang out, let’s connect, exchange email addresses, say hi, celebrate. But hey, it won’t be over. Not by a long shot. It just starts. Then we have to start to follow up, keep track of the progress of the Bill, come and answer questions when it comes before the Senate, email the legislators continually…

Don’t worry, it’s just a way to connect with your legislators, who are there to help us serve our community. This bill isn’t about asking for money, so it isn’t a difficult bill. It’s just about fairness with a few things. And this is a great opportunity to start contributing to the conversation about our profession.

We’ll do it together. Our friends from Washington and California and other states have done this before, and will mentor us through this. We will grow through this.

See you on Friday! Bring your written testimonies! If you can’t bring them, send them with a friend, or email them to a friend who is coming!

Here is the letter we had originally suggested as a sample, but it is no longer necessary. Most of the issues have been resolved:
sample testimony letter for interpreters rtf


Why does the Health Care Interpreter law matter to Health Care interpreters?

First, here is a link to the bill. But it looks strange. Here is a key to its formatting. We’ll format some of the sections below this way to highlight the changes in the law.
[Text in square brackets is being removed]
Bold text is being added.
Normal text stays the same.

Here is a sample letter you can submit… but check this post on how to submit testimony for context!
sample-testimony-letter-for-interpreters-rtf feb 5 2015
Please note that this letter was updated to reflect last minute negotiations based on the sample letter we had published here before. We have removed that letter from this post to avoid confusion.
This is the result of advocacy!

Section 1.
[Old: Health care interpreter is…]
Suggested: Certified health care interpreter is…
Qualified health care interpreter is…

What do we think? We like the emphasis on certification and qualification!

Section 2. – We support these changes!
Adding a paragraph requiring the use of certified of qualified health care interpreters wherever possible is a great move! OK, so there’s only 150 or so of us right now, at least on the OHA list. If they can remove a few of the most difficult barriers, then that number might grow. When we have enough Certified and Qualified interpreters to affect the market, then we can probably negotiate higher rates, make a living… and grow as professionals. But really, this would help the people of Oregon be served by professionals who can afford to be available to serve them, which is a great thing!
Prioritizing working with professionals with credentials is a great first step. As more of us are certified and qualified, that will become more and more significant. The goal, as the law says, is “to ensure the accurate and adequate provision of health care to persons with limited English proficiency.”
We should support this!
By the way, are already looking for people with these qualifications for full time positions.

Section 3. – Formatted the way the law is formatted for easy understanding
Reconstitution of the Oregon Council on Health Care Interpreters.
[25 members]
15 members
[Appointed by the Governor]
Appointed by the Director of the Oregon Health Authority
[They came from 18 different groups! Almost impossible to recruit from many of them.]
They come from five groups, and no numbers are given for how many from which groups. All of them are from groups connected to interpreting!
Question from OSTI: What if 51% of the members of the new Council were practicing medical interpreters? This could be powerful!

Section 4.
Now, instead of just coordinating with other states, the OHA can also coordinate with the federal government and other professional organizations to work on educational and testing programs.
The nationally recognized certifications for translation and medical interpretation are, in fact, developed by professional organizations, so this is a great move forward.

Section 5. – here is the section with the most comments for improvement
Now… here is where the interpreters need to provide some expertise cleaning things up. This bill requires cleanup. It is, actually a housekeeping bill! The OHA administrators can do administrative cleanup. We can contribute our part and provide cleanup from our perspective as professionals. We can work together and provide better service to our community.

The key points we at OSTI have identified are some terminology issues that matter because they reflect what we do. We have also identified some issues that simply don’t reflect the reality of how our profession works today.

February 5 update:
The OHA responded to our requests. Please see this update.

Here is a sample letter you can use as a source of inspiration to write your testimony.
sample-testimony-letter-for-interpreters-rtf feb 5 2015

Also, read these other blog posts for background on the issues about the Health Care Interpreting Law:
How to submit testimony
Public Hearing on HB 2419

The next post will be about meeting with you all at a restaurant in Salem at 11 a.m. on Friday to prepare. Watch this blog for updates. See you there! The LEP community of Oregon needs us.


How to submit testimony to the Legislature

On Friday, February 6, 2014, at 1 pm, there is a public hearing on HB 2419, which deals with Health Care Interpreting, among other things. This is a great opportunity for interpreters to let the Public Record reflect their opinion on the current law and their desires for improvement.

Please keep the following things in mind.

For public testimony:

• Get to the room early and sign up for a speaking spot. You have to do this to be called to speak.
• You will only have two minutes to speak, and only a few will be allowed to speak on the issue.
• Outline your testimony.
• Practice it and time it. Use a 2 minute timer and ask a friend to honestly tell you if you ramble. If you do, fix it!
• Limit yourself to one or two well supported points.
• Remember, when you go forward, stand or sit with authority. Speak with confidence. You have the floor.
• And, of course, your appearance matters! Dress professionally!
• And your diction should be clear…
• Two minutes is not enough to make your points with enough detail. Submit written testimony as well.

Guidelines for written testimony

First of all, treat this as seriously as any business letter you have ever written. Fact check it, spell check it, etc. Have a colleague check it.

You can submit three kinds of testimony:
• in support
• in support with concern
• in opposition

Remember, this bill covers many issues, not just Health Care Interpreting. There are many good things in this bill. For example, interpreters are now going to be part of the Council! You can write a letter of support, thanking them for that!

You can also submit “friendly improvements”. You may be contacted with questions, so you can help make the bill better.

For each item you make comments on, it helps if you submit the following information:
• what it currently says
• what you want it to say
• where they will find it
• why you think they should make this change

The more details you can offer about this, the better. Those details should be as objective and factual as possible.

Lastly, you can submit testimony by coming to the hearing itself, but you can also email the members of the Committee. You can email the Chair, and you can email the Committee Administrator asking for this written testimony to be added to the record. However, when you do this, since this bill covers so many issues, please be specific. Your email should say, in the subject line, something like “testimony regarding health care interpreting legislation for HB 2419”

Then, in the body of your email, include your written testimony.

We have developed a sample written testimony for your reference. In our case, we focused on the issues we would like to improve, because those are the most difficult issues to document and express clearly. Please adjust it as you see fit.
sample-testimony-letter-for-interpreters-rtf feb 5 2015

Remember, regardless of what any others may submit, all citizens have a right to contact their legislators about the laws being discussed. Remember, submitting testimony in support of items you approve of is also valuable! Please review HB 2419 and look for improvements you support.


Public Hearing on Health Care Interpreting HB 2419 in Salem on Friday, February 6, 2015 at 1 pm in HR E

There is a public hearing in Salem on Friday, February 6, at 1 pm, in HR E. Please arrive 20 minutes early to find a seat. The hearing is about HB 2419. This is an opportunity to make our voice heard about the changes we would like to see in our profession, and put our voice on the public record, professionally.

This impacts the Health Care Interpreters in Oregon. OSTI Board members have been participating in the discussions on this law and are trying to coordinate a response, since not all the recommendations of the OSTI Board members have been incorporated into the bill.

The law, as it currently stands, can be found here.

The Administrative Regulations that apply to it can be found here.

This is the link to the Oregon Health Authority.

The House Committee on Health Care is overseeing this process. Legislators always appreciate the input of their constituents. Please contact them, especially if you live in their district, and even if you don’t!

Many of these links have “follow this committee” or “follow this bill” links. We recommend that you follow those so you can be current and know when to participate.

Participating in the legislative process is your right and your responsibility as a citizen. Though OSTI and other organizations may have their own list of concerns, all citizens have a right and perhaps a duty to bring their personal concerns to the table.

One of the concerns that will certainly be brought to the table, and that we are supporting the Oregon Health Authority on, is a last minute change to incorporate language to include sign language interpreting in this bill.

We look forward to your participation. For information about gatherings and planning meetings we are having to discuss this issue this week in preparation for going to the hearing in Salem as a united team, please contact Helen Eby, OSTI President, at