Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 11

Justice for All:

w w w.BERKSBAR.org

The Case for the BCBA
Interpreter Training Program

I

started working at the Berks County
Bar Association in April 2017. My
first event was the Bar Association's
annual Bench-Bar Conference and Spring
Meeting.
During the Spring Meeting, Donald
F. Smith, Jr., then executive director,
introduced me to everyone at the dinner
table as the person he had found to help
him move forward the court interpreter
training program.
I was sitting next to the Honorable Jill
Gehman-Koestel, who at that moment
turned to me and said: "Don't let us down."
What did I get myself into?
"The basic fairness of the Pennsylvania
court system is jeopardized if litigants with
limited English proficiency (LEP) are unable
to have access to competent interpreters and
other language assistance."

- Final Report of the Pennsylvania Supreme
Court, Committee on Racial and Gender Bias
in the Justice System, March 2003

The United States Supreme Court has
held that failing to take reasonable steps
to ensure meaningful access for limited
English proficiency (LEP) persons is a
form of national origin discrimination
prohibited by Title VI. Furthermore,
the Pennsylvania Interpreter Act and
regulations require free interpreters in civil
and criminal cases.
Berks County has a large non-English
speaking population. Our courts reflect
that reality. Every day dozens of people
from all around the world find themselves
at 633 Court Street for their court
appearances. A large number of those
people don't speak English. Our courts
are in dire need of trained interpreters.
The BCBA leadership saw that need and
sprung into action.
Surely it can't be that difficult to
interpret? Oh, but it is. Think about it this
way: In the United Kingdom a jumper is
a sweater. However, in the United States
a jumper is someone you need to call

By Ana T. López Vives
911 about to prevent a real tragedy. A
biscuit is a cookie, trainers are sneakers,
chaps are guys, and football is soccer. It is
still English, but somehow, you've found
yourself lost in translation. All languages
have that same quality. If you translate
without context or understanding of the
nuances of regionalism, you will be doing
a dishonor to the language and to your
intended audience.
Why do interpreters need to be trained?
Imagine you are talking to your nonEnglish speaking client, and you decide
to use the idiom "beating a dead horse"
to emphasize that something is a waste
of time. An untrained interpreter would
translate that literally, and now your client
believes you are accusing them of animal
cruelty.
Gabriel García Márquez, the most
celebrated Columbian writer and
Noble Prize winner, was concerned
that translating "One Hundred Years of
Solitude" in a language other than Spanish
would not do it justice. Translating and
interpreting from one language to another
is an art, and just because you can speak
more than one language does not mean
you are an artist.
Properly trained interpreters are
needed, and that is why competent court
interpreters must go through a certification
process.
Becoming a certified court interpreter
is not an easy task. You have to attend a
two-day orientation where you will be
asked to think long and hard if indeed
court interpreting is the career path for
you. If you decide that it is, you have to
take four tests to measure and test your
interpreting and translating abilities:
written examination, simultaneous
interpretation examination, consecutive
interpretation examination and sight
translation examination.
Berks County is in need of interpreters
and for the longest time there were no
resources, education or incentives for
potential interpreters. The Berks County

Bar Association has filled that gap, but it
has not been an easy journey.
We had many frustrating meetings
that ended up nowhere. There were many
phone calls and emails filled with good
intentions and nothing else. It wasn't until
attorney Gabriela Raful introduced me to
Tom Grant, a Berks County certified court
interpreter, that I knew we could create
something that would work.
Tom and I spent weeks going back
and forth on what materials and resources
we could use to teach a court interpreter
training class. With the invaluable help
from Natalia Petrova and Osvaldo Aviles of
the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania
Courts Interpreter Program, we came up
with a very simple strategy: we were going
to teach to the test. Sometimes simple is
best.
Last Fall we ran our first training
session. Out of three candidates, two
became qualified and can now serve as
interpreters in our courts. We did it, but
rest assured we aren't quite done yet. We've
proven that our program works, and we
are now doubling down on our efforts to
provide trained interpreters to our courts.
The BCBA Interpreter Training
Program strives to provide accessible
and adequate training to aspiring court
interpreters in Berks County. Is it a
Bar Association responsibility to train
interpreters? No, it is not. But as Don once
said to me, it is part of the Berks County
Bar Association's mission to improve access
to justice for all, and this program is one of
the many ways we at the Berks County Bar
Association are doing just that.
If you or anyone you know is interested
in becoming a court interpreter, have them
reach out to me at ana@berksbar.org and I
can point them in the right direction.
Ms. López Vives is a former Community
Services Manager for the Berks County
Bar Association.
Spring 2019 | 11


http://www.berksbar.org

Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019

Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 1
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 2
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 3
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 4
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 5
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 6
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 7
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 8
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 9
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 10
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 11
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 12
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 13
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 14
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 15
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 16
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 17
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 18
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 19
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 20
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 21
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 22
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 23
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 24
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 25
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 26
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 27
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 28
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 29
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 30
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 31
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 32
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 33
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 34
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 35
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 36
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 37
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 38
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 39
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 40
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 41
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 42
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 43
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 44
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 45
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 46
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 47
Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Spring 2019 - 48
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Springr2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Fall-Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Summer2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/BerksBarrister_Springr2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Winter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/Berksbarrister_Summer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/BerksBarrister/berksbarrister_winter2017
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com