Monthly News Archives: June 2015


New! Victims have a right to a court interpreter

According to HB 2339, the Court is now required to appoint an interpreter when it is necessary to interpret open court proceedings for a victim who seeks to exercise his or her rights or to attend or participate in proceedings.

See the following memorandum, from the Court Language Access Services, regarding the court interpreters’ responsibilities.
2015 06 29 CLAS Interpreting for Victims

We applaud the Oregon Legislature, as it endorses quality language access for victims!


Ramadan: How to connect with our Muslim neighbors

On June 18, 2015, Melissa Binder wrote this article in The Oregonian: There’s more to fasting than not eating: 8 questions about Ramadan

Some highlights:

* Less than O.5% of the Portland population is Muslim, but they have worked hard at visibility and interfaith dialogue since 9/11.
* Ramadan is a month of fasting. The spiritual purpose of fasting is the surrender, the submission to a higher authority, which is the creator.
* The best way I can explain Ramadan is this: to act as if we are standing in front of God 24 hours a day. How would you act? You are trying to perfect your relationship and your practice in a real, practical way.

The article covers a lot of the complexities in a very human, understanding way. To understand our neighbors better during the month of Ramadan, which goes from June 17 to July 17, please click here to read the full article from


New Medical Interpreter Information Initiative

The American Translators Association (ATA) has launched a Medical Interpreter Information Initiative, an effort of the ATA Medical Division, with the support of the ATA Interpreters Division.

Appropriately, they started with an article about CLAS Standards, by Christina McDowell!

Some quotes:

Health equity is the attainment of the highest level of health for all people (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, Office of Minority Health, 2011). Presently in the United States, individuals from various cultural backgrounds cannot obtain the highest level of health for many reasons, including socioeconomic status, language, education level and the location and availability of health services.

Although health inequities have been due to discrimination in the past and continue in the present, one of the factors that can be relatively easily improved is the supply of services that are responsive to the cultural and linguistic needs of individuals. Cultural diversity among patients needs to be recognized and an individual understanding of particular customs, as well as the identification of the socioeconomic status, disabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity.

It is critical for health disparities to be reduced, if not eliminated, to ensure that patients don’t have a negative outcome. The detrimental social determinants of health which include lack of access to good jobs, unsafe neighborhoods, malnutrition and poor transportation are significant factors that need to be overcome to enable better outcomes.

Click here to continue reading the article!


HB2419 signed into law by governor on June 10

Update: Signed into law by the Governor on June 10.
The full text of the law, as signed, is here: HB2419

The Health Care Interpreter law is implemented in ORS 413.550 to 413.558
Some key changes:
* ASL is included in the law.
* “It is the policy of the Legislative Assembly to require the use of certified health care interpreters or qualified health care interpreters whenever possible to ensure the accurate and adequate provision of health care to persons with limited English proficiency and to persons who communicate in sign language.”
* The composition of the Oregon Council on Health Care Interpreters changes significantly, to reflect the needs of the interpreting profession, with more positions related to interpreting.
* To be a certified or qualified interpreter in Oregon it is no longer required to have had experience as an intern with a practicing health care interpreter. This is expected to simplify the application process as of January 1.

This law goes into effect on January 1, 2016.

Thank you for your support! Now it is time to work on the supporting regulations, and it is time for medical interpreters to contact the Oregon Health Authority and request to be part of the new Council.


Language access and civil rights

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or other Federal financial assistance. This includes language access.

The National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (The National CLAS Standards) say:

Principal Standard

1) Provide effective, equitable, understandable and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy and other communication needs.

Communication and Language Assistance

5) Offer language assistance to individuals who have limited English proficiency and/or other communication needs, at no cost to them, to facilitate timely access to all health care and services.

6) Inform all individuals of the availability of language assistance services clearly and in their preferred language, verbally and in writing.

7) Ensure the competence of individuals providing language assistance, recognizing that the use of untrained individuals and/or minors as interpreters should be avoided.

8) Provide easy-to-understand print and multimedia materials and signage in the languages commonly used by the populations in the service area.

This link provides guidance material regarding Limited English Proficiency. Its purpose is to clarify to members of the public, and to providers of health and social services who receive Federal financial assistance from HHS, the responsibility of such providers to Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has prepared this Language Access Assessment and Planning Tool for Federally Conducted and Federally Assisted Programs. In other words, it is a tool for programs that benefit from the use of federal funds. It has a useful checklist for planning.

There is much more information, constantly updated, on

Reporting complaints:

The Oregon Health Authority has a link for reporting Civil Rights complaints. These complaints cover Discrimination and ADA complaints.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a link for reporting complaints about civil rights violations, including language access.

Complaints can be filed anonymously, and in foreign languages. That means that the reporting party has significant options: to be totally anonymous (not state their name at all, which makes it difficult to investigate the claim) or to state their name, but request that their name not be revealed to the organization being investigation. This request is always honored.
Investigations often result in voluntary compliance, not always in a need for enforcement. The process is detailed in this handbook.
Complaints can also be filed on behalf of another party, not just by the affected party, though it is more effective when the affected party can be interviewed.

Role of interpreters:
The role of intepreters in an interaction is simply to interpret neutrally, as it always has been! Possibly, a good venue for this topic would be at a community center, in sessions dedicated to cultural adjustments to the United States, or in other settings where people are made aware of their rights. As translators and interpreters, our role is simply to convey the message we are there to convey accurately and completely, neutrally, in a culturally appropriate manner, without taking sides. We are not investigators. We are interpreters.


Medical Interpreting – CCHI special group fee for Oregon Interpreters

Updated post!

Until December 31, 2015, The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) is pleased to offer a special rate to Oregon interpreters for the written CoreCHI™ exam, which is part of CCHI’s national certification process.
• Registration: $15 for Oregon residents (regular fee is $35)
• CoreCHI Written Exam: $155 for Oregon residents until 12/31/15, after that – check at the time of payment (regular fee $175)

This is not only a discount off the normal rate, but it is also a simplified application process.


This is the application form for Oregon interpreters to take the written Core CCHI exam. We thank CCHI for their partnership, promoting standards for interpreting in Oregon.

The CCHI Certification exam is one of the Certification exams accepted by the Oregon Health Authority as a requirement for Healthcare Interpreting Certification in Oregon.


Medical interpreting promotes understanding

Medical Interpreters put the “I understand” in medical visits, sometimes helping to save lives in the process.

Mary Owen, a reporter for the Northwest Boomer and Senior News, interviewed interpreters in Portland and Salem to report to the seniors in the Willamette Valley. She interviewed staff interpreters for Kaiser Permanente and Salem Hospital, a freelance interpreter, and an interpreter trainer. What did these interpreters say?

Jazmin Manjarrez, independent contractor with 12 years of experience: “I remember being in Labor and Delivery with a 16-year-old about to give birth. She was alone and scared. As the nurses prepared her for birth and doctors paraded in and out of the room, I was there interpreting everything. She thanked me and told me my presence meant a lot to her. I understood her cultural concerns and was able to explain them to the care team. And in the end, seeing new life come into this world, a life you had a small contribution in, makes all the difference.”

John Salinas, interpreter for Kaiser Permanente: “One challenge is making sure that a non-English speaker is heard and understood, and that they can fully understand the interpreter. It’s very important to make sure that the patient and doctor fully understand each other.”

Carmen Villa, certified medical interpreter for Salem Health: “A professional interpreter should not let their personal beliefs interfere with their work, and sometimes it’s hard to keep your composure. Being the voice informing family members about tragic events can make you feel awful, but it also makes you evaluate your own life and appreciate those around you a little more.”

Helen Eby, medical interpreter and interpreter trainer: “Certification didn’t make me better. It proved I had met a certain standard. I am still learning. […] As we help people connect with each other across language and cultural barriers, and they begin to understand each other, our communities become stronger. They can express themselves more freely and completely to find more in-depth solutions for their health care problems or educational issues, and maybe even find resources to connect better with their host communities.”

The full article wasn’t published online, but only in the print version. Click here to see the pdf: Medical Interpreter story METRO 2015-3

Jazmin Manjarrez, Carmen Villa and Helen Eby are Certified Healthcare Interpreters who have gone through the Oregon Certification process. They can be found on this roster, maintained by the Oregon Health Authority. This is the list of requirements for Oregon Healthcare Interpreter Certification and Qualification.