Seven Questions for the Nevada Court Interpreter Program

I have just now found out that the proposal for the creation of a Conditionally Approved Court Interpreter has already been approved, apparently last Friday on October 7th, in spite of the content of the agenda for the Advisory Committee’s meeting for today (Wednesday, October 12) which has language clearly suggesting that there are no guidelines for this new credentialing category yet. I am amazed by the apparently secretive haste to approve this, without as much as an explicit invitation for public input from the interpreter community, as well as by the lack of argumentation offered to justify such an initiative with a destructive impact on not just our profession but on language access in Nevada courts.

Given that this Advisory Committee saw fit to approve a patently unsound idea, I have the following seven question that I want the Advisory Committee to answer, seeing as they saw fit to lend their voice of approval to it:
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Against the proposed “Conditionally Approved” credential for Nevada Court Interpreters

gavelThere is a proposal before the Nevada Court Interpreter Program’s Advisory Committee (it’s on their agenda since at least their prior meeting on February 2016) to introduce a new accreditation level for Nevada Court Interpreters, with performance requirements below the current accreditation: it proposes a provisional qualification for not (yet) certified or registered court interpreters, that nonetheless allows them to work in courts. In other words, it intends to admit in Nevada as actively working court interpreter persons who do not (yet) have demonstrated the minimum competent performance requirements for court interpreters. (There’s a copy of the proposed requirements.)

This proposal isn’t circulating only within the specific Advisory Committee that specializes in court interpreting matters. It is also being discussed within the Judicial Council of Nevada’s Language Access Committee (LAC) at least since their meeting in March, 2016. The LAC looks at language access issues across the entire Nevada judiciary (e.g. signage, translation of most used forms, etc.) I think it is an easy guess why there’s an interest in letting less-than-minimally qualified persons act as court interpreters: money, mostly. I’ll get to the details of the specific monetary aspect later. I’m focusing first on the unfortunate logic behind spending taxpayer money on developing the current court interpreter program to run expensive exams and award accreditation carefully to tested and minimally qualified persons only to then propose, amazingly perhaps, pulling the bottom from underneath that minimal necessary qualification.

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Toward a more perfect Interpreter Bill: on AB 2370

The California Federation of Interpreters (CFI) is sponsoring AB 2370, a.k.a. the Interpreter Bill. A copy of its text is here, as amended on May 13, 2014; a legislative analysis of the bill is here. It addresses a fundamental issue in California courts that use an interpreter: the basic lack of a simple and clear protocol to uniformly and adequately state on the record what the credentials are of an interpreter used in court proceedings. In plain English, it’s not clear that court interpreters in California who claim to have the proper credentials actually have them. However… In my opinion there are some critical gaps in that bill that urgently need mending. The fix isn’t really a fix. Here’s why, and how to fix the fix.
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Open Letter to CWA Local 39521

Dear colleague,

Please read this, in particular the comments underneath it:

I don’t know and frankly I don’t even CARE at this point anymore to know who or what is behind that website. But given its deliberate choice of name and obvious implication, it’s inescapable that the person or persons behind it pose as somehow representative of our local, and not our most directly representing professional body, i.e. CFI.

That being the case, I am hereby seeking an unambiguous statement of formal position from the local’s executive, concerning that website.
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The soft bigotry of low expectations (judiciary remix)

Ending that soft bigotry also takes affirmative, effective language assistance.I recall a poignant phrase that made the rounds during the presidential campaign of 2000, creating a bit of a wave in the electoral arena: “The soft bigotry of low expectations.” It propounded the notion of a stubborn yet hardly disguised institutional disdain toward the academic under-performance and dramatically high drop-out rates of students from certain disadvantaged backgrounds.

An injurious contempt, manifesting itself through ineffective accommodations that instead actually perpetuate that trend of performing systematically below their potential, and so end up reinforcing the structural disadvantages purportedly addressed. That suggestion, of good but ineffectual intentions and political correctness masking a bad case of de facto institutional contempt, projects a powerful image of insult added to injury.
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