SUBJECT TO INTERPRETATION  Podcast Artwork Image
SUBJECT TO INTERPRETATION
Jacquie Ring
April 03, 2018 Jacquie Ring

For our first guest we interview the Manager of the Language Access Services Section at the National Center for State Courts Jacquie Ring.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1:0:01Hi everyone, my name is. I was team that I'm on. I am your host. Welcome to subject to interpretation. This is my opportunity to share with you a little bit about myself. I was born and raised in Mexico City and about 30 years ago I came to the states, um, became an interpreter. It's kind of an interesting switch because originally I went to school and studied psychology. When I went to, when I came to the states, the first job I had was, was a teacher for a school of languages and one of my students requested that I helped him to do a deposition for one of his clients and it was very interesting. My director encouraged me to go and work as an interpreter for this, a lawyer and the, I will tell you the first thing that I learned was that I had to speak in first person because when I started speaking and saying things like, she says that her sister, I'm her brother.

Speaker 1:1:02It was so confusing that the attorney taught me to speak in the first person. I was hooked to tell the truth. I found it super interesting, exciting, and I was encouraged by that same attorney if you go to the court and offered my services as a coordinator, which I did and I was asked a couple of questions and I told him I was a teacher. I worked for this company and I did a deposition and I was invited to come back and before I knew it I was interpreting in the courts and I had never been in a court of law. I found it all. I felt like I was in a movie or something. It was really cool, but I also found out immediately that I was ill prepared to interpret in the field. I had no idea where to stand or when to start speaking and when not to start, but lucky for me.

Speaker 1:1:54There was a group of interpreters already working in the courses with some Tampa, Florida in the eighties and they took me under their wing and helped me understand the process, understand how to get trained to become a coordinator, which I did. And a few years later I became a certified. I took the first certification exam from the state of New Jersey as according to her butter and then a few years later I became a federally certified court interpreter and after that I. When certification came to the state of Florida, I became certified in the state of Florida. And in 2015 I became a certified medical interpreter. Maybe 2013 actually. So I've been doing interpretation for a long time. I, I find it fascinating. It's really exciting. I've been in the trenches with many of you interpreting in the field, but uh, I also like training and based on the experience that I had when I first started, I thought I would pay it forward and I tried to offer my knowledge and what I have learned about interpreting in the field to others.

Speaker 1:3:00So I opened a training company and we've been actually, we're very excited to tell you this is the 20th year that then I'm more interpreted training is working in the field with the interpreters and helping develop interpreting programs and curriculums for a states and universities. And it's really a lot of fun. So I decided to actually, my team decided for me that we should have a podcast because I don't think there's any or maybe very few places or spaces for us interpreters to talk to each other, to share our feelings and our thoughts and our expectations from the professional to have the opportunity to hear from people who are involved in the field who have been working either as interpreters or administrators or even end users of the services, how are we doing in the field and what is it that we need and what can we do to make it even a better fit for our needs and the needs of the communities where we're working.

Speaker 1:4:10So that's how subject to interpretation was born and I am very happy and excited to tell you that today is our first podcast and we have a great guest for you. The format is going to be always the same. We're going to have a great guest that is working in the field either, as I said, as an interpreter, as an end user of interpreter services, we're going to try to make it all fields. We will talk about medical interpretation, but because of my original field and my formation as an interpreting the country started in the legal field today, we're going to talk about according to reputation and our first guest is Jackie ring. I am super excited, uh, that she agreed to be our first guest. She is the manager of language access services for the National Center for State Courts and I've had the pleasure to known Jackie for many years more than 10 and we serve together in one of the committees for the National Center for State Courts Consortium at the time.

Speaker 1:5:19So she is very knowledgeable. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of interpretation testing and development training, recruiting. She's really a very important part of this process in the United States and today we're going to have a conversation with her. We're going to have the opportunity to talk to her about what are the challenges for interpreters, who are the challenges for the end users, who is using interpreters and why is it difficult to pass this famous tests that everybody's scared about. Anyway, we will have a long conversation with her that will allow us to literally pick her brain regarding this date of cording, interpretation in our country and what can we do as bilingual people who are interested in the field or court interpreters that are already in the field certified or in the process. Uh, I'm sure you will enjoy her, take on the obstacles and opportunities afforded to interpret it in this country. So how about we get started? Let me welcome Jackie ring.

Speaker 1:6:45We are so very happy and pleased and honored to have a great guest for our first podcast. My name is Jackie and Jackie and I have known each other for a long time. She, Jackie is the manager of the language access services section of the National Center for state courts. And before I let her say hi to you guys, I wanted to let everybody know that the fact that she worked for the National Center for State Courts and herself as being our first kids. This does not in any way constitute endorsement or support of any of our training programs. This is just a conversation that we want to share with all of you, so without any further ado. Hello. Hello Jackie.

Speaker 2:7:30Hi. Good afternoon. How are you?

Speaker 1:7:33I'm doing great, thank you. And Jackie, I want to just start by you telling us a little bit about what is it that you do in the National Center for State Courts and what is your, your title? Sounds like very long and very interesting. So could you share with us what is it that you do there?

Speaker 2:7:49Yes, definitely. So I am the manager for the language access services section as you noted for the National Center for state courts or often referred to as n c e s c, um, and we really act as a national repository of court resources and that is for the state courts primarily and that can run the gamut of all the subject areas that courts get involved in. Um, particularly for my work, we are the repository for language access resources, so really providing the courts with information and resources to help them, uh, provide adequate or, um, language access services in the courts. And then we also are the national repository for this state court interpreter exams. So these are the written and oral exams that the state courts use for credentialing, a court interpreters, many of the states use for credentialing interpreter, so certification or in some cases it's called something different, but typically to, uh, to have the court interpreters on a roster. Um, and we are, we act as both the test developer and also, uh, the maintenance piece of testing and then we have protocols for test administration that the states must abide by as well as a recruitment and training of the oral exam graders.

Speaker 1:9:25Wow. That's quite a mouthful. So you guys aren't involved a lot in the process of people becoming certified court interpreter so they can work outside according to a and with some kind of credentialing, uh, around the states. And you mentioned something that, uh, is interesting to me and I'm sure to many of the people that are going to hear this and this is this famous certification exams. And because you and I have been around for a little bit, uh, we know that this exam many times to this day, many people still called. There's the consortium exam. Are we talking about the same exam?

Speaker 2:10:03We are, yes. Thank you for that clarification. So these are also known formerly as the consortium, which was a group of states that came together to, um, historically the consortium came together to develop tests for eight use for credentialing court interpreters and um, it is the National Center for state courts. We now do you refer to those typically as the NCSC tests, but the oral written and oral exam tests. And just, I think a point of clarification and your listeners probably know this. Um, we were not a national credentialing body. Um, so similar, you know, our ID is typically known as the national credentialing body for asl interpreters. The NCSC does not certify interpreters. We develop and provide the exams so that the states can certify. So of course, what that means is that the actual requirements and the, um, specific certification parameters are a do vary by state.

Speaker 1:11:13Exactly. And, you know, now that I kind of really jumped head on on this thing about certification on exams, but I wanted to backtrack a little bit and have you tell us a little bit, uh, about yourself. How did you end up here today with us? How did we, I think it's gonna be very interesting for everybody to know. Are you an interpreter yourself? Yeah.

Speaker 2:11:35And not an interpreter. Um, I have been working with ct interpretation issues now for about 13 years, which is, it's always surprises me when I think back, um, I actually started my career on the other side of the court system, which is I in um, providing direct service to a typically to family court users. So I did work in the with individuals and litigants in the court. I was started out in a sort of a social worker role. Um, at some point in my career I started to be very interested in language issues specifically and with the court population that I was working with and took a detour and began training and working towards a teaching English as a second language, which then bridged into working with larger language solutions and language testing. And I worked for a number of years for, I'm a nationally recognized commercial vendor doing a language testing and language training. I'm following that work. I started to get more involved in testing specifically in the area of interpretation and then ct interpretation and um, that led me to working with the California Judicial Council for a number of years and then now with the National Center for state courts. So I guess the full breadth of my experiences, um, working with a language acquisition language training, then went into language testing and assessment and um, and then I became more specialized in court interpretation.

Speaker 1:13:29Right. So I think that like many of us have an interpreter myself, you ended up in this field almost by mistake. It was serendipity, right? You started out on left field. I ended up over here. I think that that's a pretty difficult with people who are interpreters in this country, especially because up until recently, I don't think anybody was aware of the fact that interpreters existed or what we do, and I always tell a friends of mine that when I travel often people ask me what to do, what do I do? And I tell them I'm a court interpreter. They say, so all those guys with the loan machines that sit in front and I go, no, those are the court reporters. So what do you do? I'm according to her also. How many languages do you speak? It's really interesting that people kind of don't, um, eh, places exactly as to where we belong in the courtroom and many of us just felt I was a teacher myself and ended up here we are talking about code interpretation and now, uh, in your opinion, Jackie, what, what are the changes you've seen in the last 13 years you be doing this?

Speaker 1:14:42Where are we today as a, as far as interpretation goes in this country?

Speaker 2:14:48Um, there's a couple different areas where I think there's been some significant shifts. I think, I think the profession in terms of ct interpretation in court interpreters has really grown in terms of a acknowledgement of, of understanding the importance for court interpreters and I think that's a really amazing shift in seeing the growth. Um, within the state court landscape. There's also a broader use of interpreters. I mean the expansion into using interpreters in all proceeding types, um, potentially using interpreters for events outside of the courtroom and ancillary activities has been a real expansion over the years. And I think that's definitely a really positive growth and evolution. Um, I do think within the 13 years, one thing I haven't seen change very much and I hope to see change is that we really seem to continue to have a need for court interpreters that's greater than the individuals that really are.

Speaker 2:16:02I'm able to meet, meet the demand at the level needed for court. Um, and I think that that it's, it's as if the need continues to outpace the growth of interpreters. So I really hope that there's more avenues for pipeline development and resources and training and, and just overall growth of the interpreters that as a, as a, uh, as a cadre of individuals who can serve the courts because the need is there. And um, I would say definitely within the last 13 years we also see that the need is growing in cities and states that may not have been the traditional gateway states where you would see kind of a stronger integration pattern. So the need for court interpreters is, it's national and it's really even in the smallest cities, um, across the United States and, and, and that really shows that there's a demand for the profession and a real need to continue to develop individuals who are qualified to work in the courts.

Speaker 1:17:16Yeah. I, I agree with you and I think that that is very obvious that the need is there. But don't you think that, uh, the need is very obvious for people like you and me when we're in, in inside or working in the courts? Maybe you talked with Jessica. Yeah. Sometimes, you know, when it comes to this guy and he doesn't speak the language, but I think that the problem or part of the problem might be that outside the courts, outside our universe, there's still not a lot of information or, or decide even an acknowledgement of the fact that interpreters have a job is that is a real job, not only the courts but in, in other fields because like I said, many people out there, when I tell them that I am an interpreter, they really have no idea. Do you think that that's part of the problem that the general public release not aware of our existence as interpreters?

Speaker 2:18:13I do think that's, um, yeah. I think when you think of interpreters, you sort of, um, probably visualize a kind of conference interpreters and the UN level of sitting in a booth and providing the kind of conference interpretation that's been popularized in, in media and such. So I think you're absolutely right. I think the profession of, of interpretation, um, it's not something you think of when you sign up for college courses. Right? Or when you're in high school thinking about what am I going to be when I grow up? And I think that the, the first sort of original wave of interpreters in the US, or at least in my experience of meeting interpreters tended to be individuals like you just opened our conversation with who kind of came into that path through other avenues there's made, have been individuals who had been working in teaching or training or sometimes even like in the medical profession in their home country and then moved here and became interpreter. So, um, it really, historically, the court interpreters that I've met have, have traditionally come to the profession as a second profession or really as something they did later in life. And I think in order to attract individuals to enter that pipeline straight from college, it really does have to become a national, a job, a child that you know about, that you prepare for accordingly.

Speaker 1:19:51Yeah, I think that, you know, uh, they, the song says that you don't want your kids to grow up to be cowboys. I don't know why, but a lot of people say, oh yeah, when I grow up, I want to be a doctor or a firefighter, an engineer, a bunch of stuff, but I don't think you hear kids saying, I would like to be an interpreter. There's not many that I've heard of and even if they're studying languages is still kind of off that field, so maybe we need to do a better job going out there and telling people that is, this is a real profession, not something that you just fall into and then you do it. I keep on telling a judges and attorneys sometimes that might training. When I first started 30 years ago as an interpreter was very thorough. They asked me, do you speak Spanish? And I said, yes. They said, you can you be here tomorrow night? And I said yes, and boom. I was according to her and uh, that night to tell him to. Even then I didn't know that code interpreters existed even though I wasn't bilingual person and I was teaching languages in school. I had no idea that the services were needed. So maybe we need somehow to reach out to the next level, not the people that are already using interpreters. Uh, but people who might become interpreters or something like that. Why do you think?

Speaker 2:21:14Oh yeah, definitely. I think that that having it become a more acknowledged and understood professional path is, would be extremely helpful. And having a national campaign would be great. Are you trying, are you giving me a national task? So leave here with that.

Speaker 1:21:35You don't want to be the PR person also like maybe 20 on commercials and they please become an interpreter.

Speaker 2:21:42Yeah. So I'll put that on my to do list yet

Speaker 1:21:46we can put on it. And as I said, let's, let's go because I think there's obstacles both for the end users of interpretation and for interpreters themselves. Why do you think as end users, you say the courts are aware that they need interpreters. What, why they're having such a hard time finding, interpret.

Speaker 2:22:06Um, but I think there's lots of issues in terms of locating interpreters. I do think I'm in. So in cities and high volume urban areas, there tend to be more interpreters that are qualified at the level needed for courts. So, um, but there may, but there's also more users, so it kind of is still, there's that outpacing issue where even if you have a lot of interpreters available at your fingertips and they're there and available in the urban city settings, uh, there tend to be more individuals who also need the services so it still can be a kind of, um, there, there still can be a demand and supply issue and then what we're seeing in some of the other, um, parts of the country, rural areas or states that didn't typically have, um, interpreter, didn't, it didn't necessarily have the need for interpreters, uh, years ago.

Speaker 2:23:06There, there may be more individuals there who are in need of an interpreter and not as many people who could provide the services at the high quality level needed in court. So I think it's just, it's just pure supply and demand. I do think that courts are starting to rely on other, um, efficiencies to assist. So efficient scheduling systems that allow them to schedule interpreters in ways that would maximize, yeah, maximize their use and maximum really scheduled cases appropriately to maximize the interpreters use. Um, you'll see some of those efficiencies taking place. And then of course there's a definite interest in the use of technology to really help provide more qualified interpreters to two places that just really can't get them otherwise. So,

Speaker 1:24:04right. I, you know, you mentioned technology. I think that's one of the element elephants in the room for many interpreters because some of the working interpreters are not necessarily happy about talking about technology because there's this fear welled and I'll make me obsolete and it always makes me think of this anecdote and I'm, I'm, I'm going to ask you also to think if you can share with us some funny anecdote that you have encountered while you're in this field. But I have to tell you when, when, uh, when we started doing remote interpreting human Florida so many years ago, we had a machine where you could actually hear the interpreter and see them on a screen and have a conversation with them. But the orange on machines that we first had in Florida, I didn't have a video screen, so it was just all audio and uh, I remember that interpreters that are well trained as you know, speak in the first person. So I'm one of the questions from the judge came to the, to the person and the person said in Spanish, the Endo Montezemolo Greasy. So the interpreter correctly said, throw the machine. Of course there's no interpreter present. So the judge was a little confused but was going along with the process and out of the machine comes the words, I don't understand what you're saying. And the judge said, you see the guy doesn't understand the machine.

Speaker 1:25:33So I think that technology has a lot of moving parts because, uh, we're, you know, if we don't understand what interpreters do, it makes it even more complicated. This technology thing.

Speaker 2:25:46Yeah, I mean, I think that technology, I'm not just speaking to interpretation here at court interpretation even I think technology is appropriate for appropriate purposes. So I mean across the board, right? I mean, and in all of our worlds of communication. And, um, I mean, I think that courts and not just courts but other industries are looking to technology as a way to really improve services because in a lot of cases it is, it is appropriate and beneficial to all parties to have a qualified credentialed court interpreter provide services. And um, if you're in the middle of the woods somewhere, you know, and can't. And you know, remember, I mean there are these, there are communities where there will be large, you know, agricultural communities don't speak English proficiently, who may be out in a very rural area. Um, it's if it, if you can get a qualified court interpreter in this and the technology is going to assist that end user, it may be the appropriate solution. So I think that, um, and, and I don't, I don't think technology will, um, if used appropriately. I don't think it will take the place of individuals. I think I'm certainly individuals who are comfortable with technology may end up, um, you know, taking on this, taking on those opportunities that come available. But, um, yeah, I think that, and I think courts are being very cautious. So I, um, I, I, I do think that it can assist with providing a qualified court interpreter if that, if that's the only way.

Speaker 1:27:43Yeah. And I think that that's the key, right? The obviously I think at this point in the game we all would prefer to have a qualified interpreter, certified interpreter right next to the person and live with the, with the judge and have everybody in the same room and that would be ideal. But you're right, I mean there might be situations where I would have nobody in hundreds of miles around that is certified or qualified plus. It's something that requires to be done today. I know I'm thinking about people being in jail for it need to be arraigned or told about what your bond is and they need somebody to give them that information in their language. So at that point technology would solve the problem. I, I, I'm going to quote somebody but I have to apologize. I can't remember who the author of who it is, but somebody said in a conference I attended, they said technology definitely is not gonna replace interpreters, but some interprets might be replaced by other interpreters who use technology. And I think that's exactly what you were saying that uh, uh, that's when we need to adapt to the situation as, as it is. Where do you think we're going with this, Jackie? You seem more interpreters getting certified. W what would you like to see?

Speaker 2:28:58I mean, I definitely think we need more certified interpreters nationally, so I hope that that is part of the solution and where, where we see some growth for sure. I mean we also have just so many different languages around the country, um, and they really can differ in the various states because Spanish is by far number one in most states in terms of volume in and need. But that it can really vary depending on the immigration population and trends in the specific states. And in some cases I'm a refugee resettlement. Some of the other factors that come into play. And so I think we need to continue to, to grow interpreters at numbers. I'm in Spanish for sure. And then, uh, in all of these other languages for which in many cases there may be very, very few people nationally, um, at the National Center for state courts, we are working to build a national database that would allow state courts to really, um, be able to contact interpreters from other states and, uh, be able to work with them in their states.

Speaker 2:30:18And that's an international effort that's underway. And I think that will really help to also, um, particularly in languages other than Spanish, where there may not be, um, individuals in the home state to provide services so that it'll really help to, um, provide more processes and platforms for states to find the interpreters that they need. Um, I don't think the field is going away. I think, um, language and globalization and sort of the solutions that are needed to provide services in many languages is here to stay. I think ct interpretation as a field now has to compete a bit more with, um, globalization in every other industry. So, you know, now it's possible to use your language skills to be, you know, a localization expert at Google or to work for, you know, a national advertising campaigns for Coca Cola or whatever

Speaker 1:31:25conferences. I mean there's more and more conferences around the world and around the United States. I'm very, obviously interpreters are kind of gravitating to that feel too. And uh, so and so it's an interesting competition that we're working hard and I felt that more than once when I was working in the ninth circuit that we would train these interpreters that were no reason. Once they got to be really good at it, that would immediately leave us, go get a job somewhere else because, you know, they found a job as a, a conference interpreter or something like that. So, uh, but I, I agree with you, I don't think that we're going to see any, any in this profession going away, going away anytime soon. Even though my ex father in law used to tell me 15 years ago, you better learn to do something else because machines will be doing your job in about a year.

Speaker 1:32:17Lucky for me, that hasn't happened, nor do I see it happening anytime soon, but it's very interesting and I'm glad to hear that, that I was not aware that he was a project that was under way of reading this national database I think would be a very good service for the court and hopefully that could grow into other areas also because I, that other government agencies, we're talking about court interpretation, but I'm sure other government agencies are facing the same problems, you know, schools, the Department of Transportation and any other entity that has contact with the public. So we just happened to be a leading the way in, in, in many respects us as far as a training and development and testing of course. And while we were talking, have you had any opportunity, do you remember any funny anecdote that you have heard through your, uh, travel? Some trips in this interesting profession of interpretation?

Speaker 2:33:20Any anecdotes? Um, I mean, I don't know that I have any really funny anecdotes. I could probably talk about all of the stories I've heard along the testing road of what people say. But I, I probably won't share those year.

Speaker 1:33:38Fortunately we can share the content of the test, but I'm sure that some of them would be,

Speaker 2:33:43uh, it's quite interesting comments. But, um, yeah, I mean, I think, uh, one thing, what would I share that's comes from my experience of being in this world? Well, I, I'll, I'll share this because I get this a lot. Um, we do of course hear from people about the court interpreter exams, uh, and we certainly take the comments and I'm always a very seriously. And we do appreciate feedback. We do often hear that the exams are too hard. And I, I guess what I share usually in that sense is that I think the job is, is a very complex job. So ct interpretation requires a lot of complex skills and a very thorough broad range of knowledge and vocabulary. So just the knowledge, skills and abilities for ct interpretation are extremely complex. So I, I tried to take, I try to make the focus on the job and then the exam really is designed to measure the skills needed for the job. So the test itself is, is challenging, but that's because the job is extremely challenging.

Speaker 1:35:09Exactly. Exactly. I love that. I, I was in, I done training for interpreters in many states and I remember one of the states that was starting the program, um, invited me to do the orientation and after the orientation the manager told me, you know, obviously that was a fun class and everything, but I think we're not going to invite you anymore. And I said, well, okay, that's fine. Is it something I said? And she goes, well, you know, the problem is that many of the people after the class, they approached us and said that maybe this was not for them because it looks like according chirping is difficult. It is. But then again, somebody's life or liberty is at stake here. And I think this, uh, this, uh, things that we hear all the time, all the test is way too difficult is because there was an underestimation of the skills needed to actually do it correctly.

Speaker 2:36:09[inaudible]. Yeah. I mean, and it's, um, it's, it's really, I mean, as your listeners will probably be interpreters or our interpreters and court interpreter is principally maybe, um, if everyone who listens to this probably already knows that, so it's not something new, but I think I'm right. The job is, it's extremely complex and challenging and I always encourage candidates to, if they asked me about preparation, is in addition to all of the other, all of the preparation and training that's out there that, that they could and should be doing, um, to observe court, to go to court, to watch the way courts operate. It really does help you understand some of those other nuances that make, make the job, um, what it is. I mean, courts are not there. They don't look like what they look like on law and order. They're not quiet, like ordered. I mean there's always a million things going on. It's noisy, it's hard to, um, it's good to just get that. Um, I think to get that further understanding of what court is like.

Speaker 1:37:26Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's more like, you know, um, disorder, right. Well, Jackie, I don't know if you have anything else that you want to share with us. Again, I know that you have things to do and we really appreciate the time that you set aside for us to talk to you. So is there anything, any thoughts that you went to all the people that are there and thinking that they want to be coordinator, they already are and need some more guidance. Any words of wisdom?

Speaker 2:37:57Right? Well I guess I'd say for all of this, those of you out there who are court interpreter candidates or even maybe if you're in the medical profession in or other interpreting professionals and you're trying to think about what to do with your lives. We need you so bad, so keep at it. Maybe I'm practicing my national slogans here so we need you keep at it. I'm you. Courts do need you and then if you're looking for resources or additional information on the exams and various states or other resources related language access or

Speaker 1:38:36court interpreter, you can check us out at www dot and c, s, c dot Org Org. Again, thank you very much. It was a freshman. I was always talking to you. I will talk to you soon. Thank you so much. Bye Bye.

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