The Discrepancies Between Professional Standards and Everyday Interpreting Practice

Imagine that you’re a patient going in for a surgical procedure. This is a procedure that isn’t done at the state-run hospital you normally go to.  Instead, you’ll have to go to a private specialist. Everything seems above board. The hospital administration assures you that you’ll be receiving first-rate care from a qualified surgeon. You figure that, because over at the public, state-subsidized hospital, the surgeon is provided a surgical support team, the same protocol will be followed at the private hospital. On the day of the surgery, you arrive, are admitted, and are finally rolled into the operating room.

But something seems off. Instead of the busy noises of a surgical staff — nurses, techs, the anesthesiologist — prepping for procedure, only the surgeon present. He informs you that, at this hospital, he is not permitted a surgical staff. This hospital believes that one surgeon alone should be able to handle all aspects procedure. The surgeon won’t just be focusing on performing the surgery. He’ll be fulfilling the roles of surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses, and techs at the same time. Who cares if that compromises medical ethics and standards of practice? At the end of the day, this is done to save you, the patient, money and widen the hospital’s profit margin by bending ethics rules.

Now, imagine you’re a defendant being accused of a heinous crime. You and your family decide that it’s worth spending the money on an expensive, experienced, top private attorney to build your defense. Your attorney enters a notice of appearance, and at the next pretrial hearing asks the judge for a continuance so that he can get familiar with the case and uphold his duty as your defense attorney and your constitutional right to a fair trial and competent representation. The judge, however, says that the attorney’s law degree and license are all that he needs to defend a case. There’s no use wasting time with trial prep work. He’s got to keep his docket going, so he denies your attorney his motion and sets the trial to start for the following day.

All of these scenarios seem completely absurd. However, the compromise in professional ethics and standards of practice reflected in the above scenarios are par for the course in the private market sphere of legal interpreting. The sad part is that this harm is coming from within the profession as much as it’s coming from outside of it. I can guarantee that almost every working interpreter, including colleagues whom I admire and respect, are guilty of bending our ethics and standards of practice because we’ve been led to believe that we have no other choice to be marketable.

If you’re still reluctant to believe that you may have broken our standards of practice, answer the following:

  • Have you ever accepted a legal interpreting assignment (deposition, immigration interview, court hearing, trial, etc.) lasting more than 30 minutes as a solo interpreter?
  • Have you ever gone into a private legal assignment without doing prep work and familiarizing yourself with the subject matter of the case?
  • If you’re a translator, have you ever worked on a project without an editor?

My guess is that the majority have answered “yes” to at least one of these questions. I am not trying to shame my colleagues, but I am inviting them to sit with themselves and with the discomfort of knowing that we’ve all done these things even though we know that our standards of practice tell us we shouldn’t. The first important step is accepting that we have all committed these transgressions. It’s time to address the giant elephant in the room, because ignoring it and pretending that everything is fine isn’t going to make things any better for us or those who rely on our services.

While I’m writing from the perspective of a legal interpreter, I believe there are takeaways here for those working in medical and conference interpreting, as well as our translator colleagues. I don’t think there’s a single sphere of interpreting or translating where we have not felt the pressure to bend or break the standards of practice to be “marketable”. I hope that what I write will make my colleagues pause and reflect on how and why we as a profession have allowed the eschewing of the very standards we and our predecessors worked so hard to set.

My post today is not just for my independent contractor colleagues. Today, I’m also reaching out to the parties who hire us in the hopes of helping them understand just how their assignment terms and conditions and search for the cheapest provider are harming the profession and the parties soliciting professional language services.

The Importance of Judiciary Interpreting Standards

Prepare for the assignment. Interpret everything accurately. Don’t omit or change anything. Work in teams of two or more. Correct errors on the record. Decline assignments whose working conditions don’t allow you to uphold the Code of Ethics.

When I first began my coursework in translation and interpretation, it was drilled into me over and over again just how important ethics and standards of practice are to the profession. Following them not only protects the interpreter or translator, it also protects the non-English speaker and the courts. They ensure that everyone’s constitutional rights and professional duties are upheld. As a newbie interpreter, I was constantly referring back to these rules whenever a questionable situation popped up, until I knew them like the back of my hand.

Back then, I was more afraid of putting myself in hot water by accidentally breaking the rules. Now, however, I’m more aware of how these standards are put in place to protect everyone relying on the interpreter. I no longer use them to only justify protecting myself from liability, but to protect the client, attorney, judge, and courts from being harmed. Going back to the surgeon and attorney examples: why are there codes of ethics, practice, and professional responsibility that these professional swear to uphold? Yes, it’s to protect themselves, if they’re ever asked to do something unethical, but they’re also there to protect the patient and the client. The same goes for interpreters and translators. These codes aren’t there so that interpreters and translators can make things difficult for everyone, to be lofty aspirations, or mere suggestions. They are mandatory requirements for us to be able to do our job correctly.

This can be harder to see with foreign language interpreters and translators, because of the assumption that a good language service provider is a walking translation machine. In the eyes of many, we are individuals that work with words, not linguistical concepts and communication, and are just there to serve as a living Google Translate. This is far from the truth. We are human professionals, who are quite skilled at our jobs, but need the proper working conditions in order to perform well. Like the surgeon without a support staff or the attorney without trial prep work, the quality of our services will suffer if we’re not allowed to comply with standards of practice.

Why are they being ignored?

When I look at the current state of legal interpreting on the private market, I see three misconceptions outside of the profession that have contributed to our situation. First, there is the belief that not being able to communicate in English because you speak a foreign language is not a significant barrier. Second, that anyone who speaks a foreign language is a fluent bilingual and that any bilingual can interpret or translate. And lastly, that Limited English Proficiency communities are not as organized or influential as other communities, and don’t have as much power to assert their rights. All three factors contribute to a language service market where bad faith actors can make a profit by contracting professional interpreters without providing the appropriate working conditions. They can always threaten to replace a credentialed interpreter with an untrained individual and present them to their clients as a qualified interpreter. After all, unless you live in a state where mandatory court certification has been codified, what’s to stop language providers from doing just that? And if it’s illegal for them to hire uncredentialled individuals, they can always prey on newly certified individuals just entering the profession. It leaves little room for professionally trained, credential interpreters to assert and protect themselves in the marketplace.

Further aggravating the situation is the sense of isolation and lack of camaraderie surrounding the interpreter from the moment they begin to train in this field. There is not one single pathway to court interpreting, and unless you’ve come out of a more traditional higher education program, chances are you’ve obtained your certification more or less on your own. That was my experience. Although I attended a great written translation program at Georgia State University, I had no idea who the professional interpreters were in my area. I studied on my own for the certification exam, with some guidance from a former professor who was certified in another state. Before I found my network, providers were calling me, so even if I knew an assignment needed to be done as a team or that I needed access to the direct client to do prep work, I felt like I had no ground to ask for these things. I remember an instance where I tried asking the referral agency to find me a teammate and they tried to assure me that working in teams wasn’t “the norm” in private legal interpreting.

This isolation leaves the professional interpreter vulnerable. She could easily be gaslighted into believing that the only way to be competitive on the market is by disregarding the standards of practice. I see this all the time on our social media message boards. Colleagues will post about the struggles of finding a referral agency or client willing to allow team interpreting. They’ll try to rationalize taking on an assignment solo and convince themselves that the norms aren’t really needed outside of the courtroom, or accept a client/referral agency’s incorrect rationale that a deposition or meeting is somehow easier than an in-court proceeding. Other colleagues will try and lift them up and assure them they should hold their ground. But where is the incentive if you’ve never been given the opportunity by the hiring party to actually put these measures into practice?

The same goes for preparing for a deposition or civil trial. One of the reasons I stopped working for third party providers that contract in my state is that not a single one that solicited my business allowed me to contact the party seeking services beforehand so that I could do the studying needed to do the best job possible. I even tried asking the referral agencies to get the information to no avail. If you’re a veteran interpreter serving the upper echelons of the legal community, the big firms with renowned clients, you have more ground to actually implement this practice. These clients either have experience working with professional interpreters or want to avoid any risk to their clients at all costs. But as we trickle down into the everyday legal needs of our local LEP communities and begin to work with more regional and local firms, it’s much harder to get the client to work with us, even though these cases are just as important and impactful on the lives of these LEPs.

Of course, exceptions must be made for emergency cases. Sometimes, an assigned interpreter has to cancel at the last minute and they need to find someone to avoid canceling an important hearing or deposition. Other times, there’s an unplanned emergency hearing that needs an interpreter. Like ER doctors, professional interpreters at every level make sure that they’re ready to handle this type of situation. But for the majority of private market work, there’s no real reason not to work with the interpreter to prepare for the assignment and put the proper working conditions in place.

When an interpreter tries to ask for these conditions, he or she is labeled as “difficult”. They’ll be passed over for someone who will agree to any condition the client or agencies impose. This contributes to a cycle of professional colleagues feeling like they have to give in to these working conditions, which then makes it even harder for the rest of the profession, let alone newcomers, to ask that these standards be met. Even worse, this allows market forces to pit us against one another. Instead of encouraging team work from day one, we’re tricked into believing that we have to compromise our standards of practice in order to protect our sources of income from other interpreters.

We end up in a professional environment where it’s difficult to turn our collective grievances into concrete efforts to protect the professional independent interpreter.

How can I reclaim my power as a professional?

Colleagues who are finally ready to shake off the shackles placed on them may be asking themselves how to reclaim control over their work. First, it’s important for you to find professional interpreting spaces where you are surrounded by colleagues who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. For me, it was important to see that interpreters and translators with similar credentials could, in fact, find success in the field without having to compromise our standards of practice. This will help to deprogram you from the rhetoric you’ve been fed in the past about it being “the industry standard” to disregard conditions like working in teams and preparing ahead of time for an assignment. This argument is never going to go away from parties seeking your services. It’s important to have a space where you’ll be reminded that we, the professionals, are the ones who know how to do our job best. Join the message boards and organizations, like the Interpreters Guild of America, where independent working interpreters are having these conversations.

The next thing you’ll need to do is take initiative. It’s time to stop placing yourself in a passive role in your professional life. You’ll need that initiative to do take these next steps. First, get to know other professionals in your market. One of the biggest factors third parties use to their advantage is the relative isolation of an independent contractor. Break through that anonymity and get to know your colleagues. Meet with them and take the first step in fostering camaraderie. Let them know that you want colleagues that you can collaborate with on assignments. Many interpreters fear that they’ll encounter unscrupulous colleagues who will try to undermine them and steal clients. These individuals are out there, but they’re much easier to sniff out than you think, and there are more good colleagues than there are bad ones. Believe me when I say the risk is worth it, once you build a great, reliable network.

Second, start educating your current and potential clients. They don’t work in our profession and are probably not familiar with the education, training, and effort that it takes to provide professional interpreting services. You don’t need to lecture them, but you need to be prepared to explain why you’re asking for things like team interpreting, why it’s much better for them to find their interpreters ahead of time, and the importance of giving them the information and materials necessary to prepare for the assignment. Educate them about the mental gymnastics we go through to output that nice sounding interpretation that they hear. When you watch top actors perform after months of rehearsal as a company, you forget that they’re acting. Similarly, the best interpreters are the ones who are so well prepared and know how to work on a team, you’ll forget you’re listening to an interpretation. I promise you, once most clients learn about this, they’ll trust your judgement and work to get you everything you need to do the job.

Third, be firm with clients and referral agencies. I’m familiar with that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that starts when you don’t hear back from a prospective client after giving them a proposal for an assignment. Knowing that they probably went with someone else that gave into their demands is incredibly frustrating. It takes a while, several years in fact, to find and keep good clients, but once you begin to do so, you’ll have much more job satisfaction knowing you’re allowed to work within the standards of practice.

Lastly, as a profession, we need to work hard to make sure that our standards of practice are enforceable. Other professions have oversight bodies in place to make sure that professionals are complying with standards of practice and ethics. We must work together at the state and national level to get our professional standards on the books so that hiring unscrupulous and/or uncredentialled individuals is no longer an option. As a profession made up of mostly independent contractors, this is going to take more effort. But if we don’t do this, we’ll find ourselves facing the exact same issues time and again.

How can you, the client, be our ally?

The fight to close the gap between our standards of practice and real legal interpreting practice is going to be long and hard. Interpreters won’t be able to fix this overnight. This is where you, the client, have the biggest potential to be our allies in the profession.

Educate yourself on interpreting, translating, and the importance of language access. Our two largest professional organizations, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators and the American Translators Association have a wealth of articles and resources that explain how our profession works. Here are a few resources that I recommend you read over before hiring a court interpreter:

Check to see if there’s a local interpreter and translator’s association chapter in your state. Network with them about opportunities to promote education on interpreting and translating in your profession and community.

Many of our colleagues provide client educational resources on their websites and also run blogs where they talk about the current issues in our field from the perspective of a working professional. My personal favorites are run by Helen Eby, a veteran certified translator and interpreter, and Tony Rosado, one of the top conference and legal interpreters in the country.

Reach out to certified interpreters you’ve worked with in the past and ask them about what’s happening in the profession at the local level. Ask how you can support their work.

After educating yourself, the best way you can be our ally is by making some tweaks to how you approach finding a professional court certified interpreter to meet your needs. First, if your firm has a contract with a referral agency, that doesn’t mean you can’t help. Many of our best colleagues work through these agencies. You can take all of these steps, whether you’re contracting through agencies or directly.

When working on private civil matters, set the standard of practice early in the case. Ask that the court and opposing party follow the same standards of practice as they do in state-paid criminal cases: team interpreting, provide the materials for interpreters to prepare for the case, and only use interpreters with the right certification and experience.

Stop requesting interpreting services mere days (or even hours!) before the deposition, civil trial, etc. Make sure that you do so ahead of the event to allow the interpreters enough prep time. My advice: as soon as you have the date, book your interpreting team and start meeting with them to figure out prep and logistics. (Here’s an example of the intricacies of coordinating a complex remote deposition.)

Ask for a team of at least two up front, no matter how long you think the assignment may take. If working with an agency, set the terms for the assignment and the interpreters you want. Insist on using only state or federally certified interpreters (depending on the type of case) and that you won’t accept anyone without those credentials. Let the agency know that you’ll be asking the interpreter to state their credentials on the record. Tell the agency that, once assigned, you want to be able to contact the interpreters directly to arrange any pre-session meetings and delivery of prep materials. Make it a standard of your practice to always have the interpreter state their credentials on the record, even if it’s the interpreter being used by the opposing party. This will also help you protect your client.

Speaking of the opposing party, even in the most contentious cases, coordinating interpreting services is the one area where legal counsel on both sides can work together to make sure the right professionals are hired. This is done in criminal court all of the time. The judge, state, and defense will get together with the interpreters to organize the team and interpreting logistics for trial. That way, the interpreting portion is taken care of and it’s one less thing to worry about during the trial. You’ll feel much more at ease knowing who is coming in to interpret, their credentials, and that they are prepped on the subject matter of the case. The need for “check interpreters” will go out the window, because the latent interpreters on the team will be fulfilling the quality assurance role while the active interpreter colleague is working. It’s one more thing that can make an otherwise tense litigation less stressful.

Don’t go for the cheapest bottom line. Now is not the time to bargain hunt or haggle. You absolutely have every right to call around and get different quotes. But good, high quality legal interpreting services shouldn’t be inexpensive. Believe me when I say you’ll get what you pay for. If you have a strict budget, talk to the interpreters and see what arrangements can be made. If you see that not enough funds were set aside for interpreting services, be prepared to ask for more money.

If you’re already working with a professional, credentialed interpreter or translator, don’t be afraid to consult with him or her on services that you need. We love answering these questions, but are almost never given a seat at the table. A pro is an amazing resource that you shouldn’t let go to waste.

If you work at a larger firm and get a sense that your current language provider isn’t cutting it, talk to your bosses about this. You can explain the risks that come with contracting with a provider that doesn’t adhere to best practices. Take what you’ve learned and shop around for other options. There may be great independent providers sitting right under your nose.

If you end up finding a local professional, certified interpreter that you like working with through an agency, there aren’t any restrictions that keep us from providing you with our contact info. After all, as independent contractors, noncompete clauses don’t apply to us. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission explicitly prohibits customer allocation and agreements to restrict advertising. However, as a courtesy to the referral agency, most interpreters will avoid networking with you at that assignment. But keep in mind that most professionals have their own websites, LinkedIn profiles, and are listed on the state and federal registries of certified interpreters. You’re more than free to look up that interpreter’s contact info and network with them after the assignment. If you encounter us in the wild at professional networking events, you’re also free to approach us then.

Colleagues, I know we have a long and arduous struggle ahead of us, but I also know that we can pull together and get to the point where complying with our standards of practice no longer seems like a dream that’s out of reach. I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as the perspectives of our medical, conference, and translation colleagues on this topic.

Lessons from the Pandemic: Give Freelance Interpreters a Seat at the Table

Some dear friends and colleagues of mine from Washington State dropped this article from Crosscut, a local publication, into our group chat:

COVID-19 delays justice for King County inmates who need interpreters: Non-English speakers are receiving substandard legal representation because interpreters won’t appear in person, attorney says

As I read the article, I began to feel my colleagues’ indignation over what can only be characterized as a scapegoating of Washington’s freelance court interpreters. This article is timely, as I was preparing my next post about the “Invisible Freelancer”. While this article made me and my colleagues fume, it serves as the perfect example of problems I see time and again when it comes to any state court providing their interpreters with the working conditions they need to practice professionally within a state judicial system.

The problem is rarely the interpreters themselves. Every interpreter worth his or her salt whom I know wants to provide professional grade services and will turn down work when they cannot do that. In state compensated cases, the culprit tends to be the court administration and their tendency to leave out interpreters from the conversation when setting up interpreting services. Those airing their grievances in the article may be surprised to learn that pandemic friendly solutions already exist and are in place across the country so court interpreters can provide a truthful, complete, and accurate rendition without having to risk getting COVID-19.

From the article, there seems to be a huge misunderstanding of how court interpreting works shaping the outside perception of the problem. The two main complaints in King County are: 1) a backlog is being created because interpreters do not want to accept in-person assignments, especially those in jails and prisons; and 2) the remote interpreting set up in King County is faulty, unorganized, and cumbersome to the point of affecting the quality of the legal representation Limited English Proficiency Defendants are receiving.

Those cited in the article are correct in stating that many court interpreters across Washington have assessed the risks and benefits and decided that they cannot risk getting sick by taking these assignments. This is not unique to Washington State and is happening nationally. Unfortunately, as the rising number of cases reflects, even with all the precautions in place you cannot eliminate the contagion factor. Thus, many professional freelancers have opted not to take in person work, knowing that their business will take a financial hit. Remember, most court interpreters are freelancers. Like any other independent professional, they have no safety net or employer to support us if they get sick, can no longer work, and as a result, no longer afford health insurance or our other living expenses. While freelancers can’t work in person, they still want to work and have taken the time to quickly get up to speed on the technologies and protocols we need to put in place on our end to provide professional grade services from home. It’s not ideal, but it works and it works well.

The individuals quoted are also correct in their assessment that Washington’s current ad hoc system for remote interpreting in client meetings is downright awful. Interpreters have also noted these factors and have decided to decline these remote assignments because under those conditions they cannot uphold their duty to provide faithful, complete, and accurate renditions. Again, interpreters aren’t refusing these conditions because they don’t want to work. It’s because we cannot comply with our professional responsibility; when this happens, we have to let you know that we can’t continue in the current conditions and decline the work.

Attorneys need to understand two things. First, there is absolutely no reason for remote interpreting to be this ineffective. As I read through the “make-shift solutions” a defense attorney cited, I asked myself why on earth is it being done this way when there are plenty of acceptable solutions already in existence? The jails and prisons in my home state of Alabama, which is not exactly known for being at the cutting edge of technology or social progress nor for having deep pockets, seem to have figured out how to get an appropriate set up. Between Zoom, WebEx, interpreter/attorney prep sessions, and good ole fashioned 3-way calls, I have had close to no problems providing interpreting services to inmates remotely. Sessions are a bit slower because we’re working remotely, but attorneys and their clients still manage to get in a full session and I feel satisfied with the level of service I provided. These sessions also include going over paperwork, like plea bargains or pre-sentencing reports. Sometimes, the attorney will share the document on their screen in a session. Other times, they’ll send me a copy of the document to be either returned or destroyed after the meeting. And some will go over the document with me in a pre-session so I can have terminology prepared ahead of time. Each jail and attorney’s office have their own system, but so far it seems that the jails have provided the resources needed in order to interpret successfully without risking the attorney or interpreter’s health. I will concede that quality still varies a little, but so far everyone is doing what they need to for me to be able to uphold my oath and professional responsibility as an interpreter.

Second, and most importantly, the freelance interpreter is just one side of the equation and has very limited power in shaping the system the state chooses to adopt for remote interpreting. All a freelancer can do is tell the state, “I have all of my equipment, am now familiar with the platforms, and am ready to go.” It is up to state and local governments to make sure that courthouses, prisons, jails, and any other court facility have the proper equipment and conditions in place to make remote interpreting successful. Believe me, if it were up to freelancers, we would always be included in the conversation. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Rarely are freelancers, as the professionals in the field, asked what they need in order to do their job even though we do have existing solutions. If freelancers were asked, we would immediately shut down holding up a cellphone to thick plexiglass in a room with poor acoustics.

I spoke to my friends and colleagues in Washington, and every single one of them is ready to work with the courts to get the proper set up in place. Washington State need only ask for this. But as is the case in other states, freelance interpreters are rarely given a seat at the table to shape policy and procedure. When we try, we’re usually shut down because, as the interpreter coordinator cited in the article stated, our profession is seen as a mere “side-gig”. As a whole, we are constantly trying to get recognition as working professionals, not gig economy workers. Contrary to the interpreter coordinator’s comments, we actually do this work full time; our respective state courts are just one of our clients. Right now, Washington appears to be acting like a bad client for their interpreters. The bottom line is that, as freelance professionals, all we can do is look at the working conditions any prospective client may offer us and weigh the risks. If they outweigh the benefits, then we have no other option than to decline the offer. As long as our client, the state courts, refuses to consult its interpreters and make the necessary changes, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’ll keep turning down the work.

As an attorney who used to work on the other side of the equation, I sympathize with how the pandemic has upended defendants’ constitutional rights. It’s, quite frankly, disgusting and infuriating that the administrative office of courts in many states have really dropped the ball in terms of language access. I support any action to hold the courts accountable for their lack of consideration that has resulted in a violation of rights. However, suing to get judges to order freelance interpreters to take on work they’ve declined due to dangerous working conditions is not the answer. I’ll even go so far as to say that suing to get judges to order staff interpreters to work in jails also isn’t the solution. It’s not only disrespectful to our profession, it’s a completely baseless request. All this will do is infuriate court interpreters and make them even more reluctant to keep the courthouses as clients, even after the pandemic is over.

Mischaracterizing professionally interpreted legal proceedings as “lost or fragmented” communication based off of a “simulation” also doesn’t help. When done by a trained certified court interpreter, an interpretation is smooth, complete, and pleasant to hear. Yes, there are small aspects that do get lost in translation; that is just the nature of cross-lingual communication. And yes, remote interpreting does complicate things. In past posts I’ve even emphasized how once we’re out of the pandemic, we need to make sure interpreting in person goes back to being the norm. However, we are in an exceptional situation where being there in person is not possible.

Rest assured that certified court interpreters make sure that as little as possible is lost in translation. They cannot pass a certification test if they can’t do this. They work very hard to continue improving their renditions and make sure that they are using the best terminology so that the exact idea being expressed is communicated to the LEP. While I understand how relying on an interpreter in court proceedings can be scary for both the attorney and the LEP client, you must trust certified interpreters to do their job. I understand that this aspect is out of your control, but I promise you that we want to do the best professional quality job possible.

Court interpreters are not the enemy. As professionals, all we want to do is provide faithful and accurate interpretations so that any Limited English Proficiency Speaker going through our justice system can access it as equally as English speakers. We also want the justice system to move as efficiently as possible. Remember: when we can’t accept a state assignment, that also affects our livelihoods. Interpreting is not a “side gig”; it’s our career. However, we also do not want to get COVID-19, risking our lives and those of our loved ones.

Attorneys, the solution to your problems isn’t trying to force an interpreter to work in person against their will; nor is it lamenting perceived interpreters’ reluctance to risk their wellbeing. You have the power to demand that the state consult with its freelance professionals to make sure the proper set-up is in place so that interpreters can start taking these assignments.

Much like this article, the professional freelance court interpreter’s voice is nowhere to be found. The spokesperson of the King County Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention is quoted as saying, “Going forward, we’ll continue to work with public defenders, the courts, and other criminal justice partners to ensure that people in our temporary custody have their rightful access to legal counsel and interpreter services, given the considerable constraints and health concerns we face during the COVID 19 pandemic.” Demand that the state makes their freelance court interpreters a part of that conversation, as they will be your best ally for professional, competent remote interpreting solutions.

Note: Our staff interpreter colleagues in many states also face these problem and are often left out of the conversation when it comes to remote interpreting protocol during the pandemic. Courts everywhere will benefit from consulting both staff and freelance interpreters. They are the only experts that will understand what successful remote court interpreting entails.