OSTI Thanks Rep. Williamson

Jennifer W and Jessica D July 2014On Saturday, July 19, under the hot summer sun, I arrived at Ruby Vineyard and Winery in Hillsboro to attend the fundraiser for District 36 Representative Jennifer Williamson. The drive in had been flat-out gorgeous, dotted with ripe orchards, U-Pick-Em berry farms, and golden rolling hills. The event itself was held amid some of the most spectacular scenery in the area, and the gem-like landscape was actually the inspiration for Ruby Vineyard’s name. This last tidbit was recounted to me by one of the owners, Flora, as she poured me a taste of Pinot Noir and I surveyed the visual and political scene at hand: a small but highly enthusiastic crowd of Williamson supporters, friends, and family were laughing and enjoying the delectable spread, a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream stand, and clutching raffle tickets (one prize included homemade cookies baked by Rep. Williamson’s mother that would delivered every month for a year). I spotted Williamson talking earnestly with a small group, so I took the opportunity to meet some of my nearby fellow attendees – a mortician and his wife, as it turns out, who I almost convinced to come karaoke-ing with me later that evening. But I digress.

Williamson fundraiser July 2014
I reminded myself of my purpose – believe it not I wasn’t there JUST to sip wine and sample samosas. My main motive in attending was to thank Rep. Williamson for her dogged work and advocacy on behalf of court interpreters across the state. In case you need some background: last legislative session (when OSTI itself was still just an idea) future OSTI founders and members met with Williamson to discuss the dire need for a court interpreter rate increase. Rates for certified and qualified court interpreters had been frozen since 1997, and Williamson, whose district includes the Multnomah County courthouse and who had been interested in and concerned about interpreter issues for many years, used her political clout as the then Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means to push hard for the court interpreter rate increase and stop us from being cut at the last minute from the budget, an event that had sadly happened many, many (many) times before. It turned out to be a nail-biter of a session marked by a flurry of meetings, letters, grassroots outreach, and, finally, public testimony. When the dust settled, the certified court interpreter rate had indeed been raised, from $32.50 to $40.00 per hour. As is typical in politics, the outcome was still a compromise compared to our original ask, which was $50.00 per hour with a yearly cost of living adjustment (COLA). But after a decade and half of no change, this decision was a major victory for certified court interpreters across the state.

David and Helen E at Williamson event July 2014Nevertheless, as I re-introduced myself to Williamson and thanked her for her advocacy, she had a choice phrase to describe the final, compromised decision (rhymes with “full-split”), and expressed her commitment to pushing for more next session. OSTI is particularly interested in working towards the COLA as well as a rate increase for court interpreters whose languages do not have a certification program, as those interpreters have also suffered a 15-plus year pay freeze.

I made my way over the the gazebo to meet some new people, chat with OSTI President Helen Eby, who also attended the event, and take in the view a while longer and wait for the raffle (I didn’t win the cookies). The view was perfect for a little reflection, and so I thought about OSTI’s goals and the unknown and possibly difficult road ahead towards achieving them. We’ve made some good first steps, but we will definitely need need Williamson and allies like her in Salem now and in the future.

Post by Jessica Dover, OSTI Treasurer

OSTI meetings outside the Portland area! Aug 17, Aug 23, Sept 6!

Albany: Sunday, August 17, 2 to 6 pm at Cecilia Mihaylo’s home,4035 Thoroughbred Ave. SE, Albany, OR 97322. Please contact her (Cmihaylo @ yahoo.com) for more details. Bring food to share!

Bend: Saturday, August 23 at 12:30 PM, at McMenamin’s, 700 NW Bond St. Please contact Denise Feinberg (dsfainberg @ yahoo.com) for more details.

Medford: Potluck lunch on Saturday, September 6. Please contact the organizers, Jeanette Poston (541) 552-9260 and Lilian Belsky (541) 281-7066, for the address and other details.

OSTI is trying to serve all needs (translation, court and medical interpreting) for all languages and all counties. We want to connect with all OSTI members and friends, medical interpreters, court interpreters and translators. As we get to know each other we expect to find out what is needed in different parts of Oregon and help each other. Through these conversations we are already finding things to work on! We have invited the local area leaders to join us at our online Board meetings, though of course all OSTI members are welcome to join us. That way we can make decisions together.

Also, please listen to this radio interview on the Jefferson Exchange.

OSTI Board meeting, July 24 from 7 to 9 pm.

Please check our tentative agenda at this link.

The Board will be meeting online. If you would like to attend our meeting, please email membership@ostiweb.org for information!

IMIA News! First year of membership free for minority languages

For members who work in languages OTHER than the top 10, the first year of IMIA membership is free! Please take advantage of this offer!

NON-minority languages are
1. English
2. Spanish
3. ASL
4. Mandarin & Cantonese
5. Vietnamese
6. Russian
7. Arabic
8. Portuguese
9. French
10. German

Interview from the Jefferson Exchange

Today, July 17, 2014, I was interviewed by The Jefferson Exchange. The interviewer was startled by the fact that cost drives things enough that I’ve been asked to recommend a non-certified interpreter at times.

I highlighted that training opportunities are increasing and there are some new opportunities outside of Portland. This will lead to having more qualified and certified medical interpreters in the state, and as interpreters provide a better service it will be more likely to see the rates they are paid increase because they actually add value.

There is a lot of work to be done, but we are getting started. OSTI is reaching out to interpreters and translators in Southern Oregon and Bend and trying to help local groups organize. We have members in these areas and are looking forward to supporting them as much as possible. Because of this interview, our viewing stats are up. As interpreting issues make the news, people will be looking for professional interpreters and translators from OSTI, where we help clients and independent contractors connect while providing support and training for all.

OSTI is the OREGON Society of Translators and Interpreters!

Helen Eby, OSTI President

Oregon interpreting issues in the news

Over the last couple of years, several articles about interpreting in Oregon have been published.

July 11, 2014, Oregon Public Broadcasting: Oregon has a shortage of certified medical interpreters

July 1, 2014, in the Albany Democrat-Herald: an article about interpreting training

April 4, 2014, The Oregonian, Spanish interpreter botched 9-1-1 translation, sent ambulance to wrong address

May 5, 2013, in The Oregonian: a report on the state of medical interpreting in Oregon, after a national conference on medical interpreting organized by the International Medical Interpreters Association in Portland

September 14, 2012, The Oregonian, interviews Helen Eby about interpreting

April 24, 2012, The Oregonian, Deaf inmate sues Dept. of corrections over lack of ASL interpreter for medical visits and AA meetings

Training for all language professionals

In the Calendar page, we just included some ongoing training programs for interpreters.

Southern California School of Interpreting and Interpreting Education Online gave a joint presentation at the American Translators Association conference in 2010. They have worked through the issues of online interpreting training and offer solid programs. They are currently starting to offer translation training as well.

Besides this, the ATA Savvy Newcomer (on the Links page of our site) has a series of posts called “A Day in the Life,” featuring students in different translation and interpreting certificate and degree programs.

Please let us know of any other training opportunities you think would be accessible to and beneficial to Oregon translators and interpreters!

OSTI’s inaugural Social

It’s not often that a bunch of translators and a bunch of interpreters sit down at the same table together to chat and make connections, but that’s exactly what happened this past Friday, May 30th, when we held our first OSTI Social in Wilsonville. Twenty translators and interpreters with at least 7 different languages among them came together for a relaxing networking event.

OSTI’s Continuing Education Coordinator, Lotte Schmitz, picked the McMenamins Old Church & Pub for a venue where OSTI members and potential members could enjoy our own sizable room with good food while the evening sun streamed in. OSTI board members found themselves among a pleasant mix of new connections and well-known colleagues. We hope the occasion offered an opportunity to find out more about what OSTI is, what we stand for, and what we plan to do in the future for the translation and interpreting industries.

In an unusual twist, Spanish was not the majority language for the linguists in attendance, with German, Japanese, Chinese, French and Dutch among the other languages represented. Overall the event was characterized by networking and making new connections, and the participants appeared to take full advantage of the opportunity to socialize among colleagues, which is a refreshing change for those of us in our somewhat isolating industry.

We also discovered that many current and future OSTI members are musically inclined, with guitar, voice, fiddle, keys, and bass instruments represented, along with at least two jewelers, further proving that people in our industries are quite the artistically-inclined bunch! A suggestion did circulate indicating that OSTI should start its own T&I band.

While there were a couple of medical interpreters in attendance, at future events we would like to see even more participation from linguists in this field. OSTI is working hard this year to help improve working and payment terms and conditions to the large number of medical interpreters in Oregon. Also: next time, we will take better pictures!

By appearances, a good time was had by all.