ASTM Standards Ensure Translation and Interpreting Quality

On May 19, 2016, Helen Eby, OSTI President, gave a presentation to stakeholders who are representative of the voters of an ASTM ballot. They included representatives from medical interpreting services clients and language services companies, and individual interpreting and translation services providers.

Translation was a relevant topic to interpreters present at the meeting, since compensation surveys show that at least 66% of interpreters also do translation work. Therefore, it behooves interpreters to be aware of translation standards and have some training in the practice.

Attendees had an opportunity to look at complete copies of the Standard – passed around in the room – to corroborate the information and ask questions. Some questions and answers that came up in the discussion were:

Can we have a link to the Standards?
OSTI’s Web page has published an article about the Standards that includes a link for purchasing the full version. See below for the link.

What are some of the issues that come up in translation?
One challenge is that some clients request that Spanish documents be published following English capitalization and punctuation rules.

Following Spanish capitalization and punctuation in Spanish-language documents is important because using English capitalization and punctuation in those documents may be confusing to the reader. The group was intrigued to learn that Eby has developed a style guide for English-speaking clients to educate them about this, and everyone asked for a copy.

Do interpreters have to do research?
Yes, it really helps them prepare for appointments. For example, it helped them prepare interpret for Dr. Menchu in Portland. However, it also helps an interpreter be ready to interpret for a geneticist, a back-to-school night, or a colonoscopy. These are all very different types of appointments. Knowing the agenda ahead of time is important.

What are the differences among the various interpreting certification programs?
Requirements for the Oregon Health Care certification are very similar to that of the national certification bodies, except for the 20 hours of additional training required here in Oregon. Once the certification is acquired, there are requirements to maintain it as well.

Links requested by attendees:
Presentation Powerpoint
Link to purchase a copy of the Standard
Link to the Eby’s style guide

Links for more information about certification:
Information to become an Oregon Certified or Qualified Health Care Interpreter – from the Oregon Health Authority
Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters – one of the national certification bodies for healthcare interpreting
National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters – one of the national certification bodies for healthcare interpreting
How to become an Oregon Court Interpreter
ATA translation certification
Language testing and certification program in Washington State – Oregon residents are allowed to test in Washington State. Washington State also offers document translation certification in seven languages and has a 38% pass rate for its exam.