Forensic Transcription and Translation Sessions at DVTA Summit

The September 10 East Coast Translators and Interpreters Summit, a first for the DVTA, brought in attendees from ten different U.S. states, representing 14 languages. Nearly one hundred individuals attended the Summit, participating either as attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, students, or speakers. The one-day Summit included several educational sessions that were eligible as CEU credits for certified professionals, and an ATA certification exam on Sunday for those interested in becoming certified.

Among the sessions offered were two lectures given by certified interpreter and translator Judith Kenigson Kristy, an expert in the area of forensic transcription and translation (FTT). Kenigson Kristy’s two sessions were well-attended, and for good reason! Her lecture on this too-often-ignored aspect of language services was enthralling and very informational. Between answering questions from attendees on how to estimate timing for these types of projects, how to know our responsibilities as transcribers, and how to format transcripts for the courts and attorneys, Kenigson Kristy provided DVDs containing helpful resources and practice recordings so that participants could not only learn about FTT but also give it a try for themselves.

Attendees listen eagerly to the lecture on transcription

Attendees listen eagerly to the lecture on transcription

One of the most helpful aspects of the FTT sessions was learning some specific and hands-on tips about transcription techniques and software. For instance, Kenigson Kristy listed several of her most commonly-used abbreviations in transcripts and their meanings ([IA] for inaudible, [INT] for interrupted, [UI] for unintelligible, etc.) and also gave a demonstration of how to reduce background noise in a tricky audio file using Wave Pad, an audio editing software. Additional tips included foot pedal basics, types of headphones that won’t hurt your ears, and a workflow for completing FTT projects: first review the audio and map out who is speaking and when; then do a first pass of the transcription; next, do a second review of the transcript after editing the audio to reduce background noise; finally, review the source audio again to ensure that you’ve only written what you can really hear before translating and editing the transcript.

DVTA appreciates Ms. Kenigson Kristy’s and all of our other speakers’ willingness to share their tips and tricks with Summit participants and we look forward to more great events like this in the future!

East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit – Opening and Closing Remarks

This past weekend DVTA held the first ever East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit at La Salle University in Philadelphia. We are proud to say that the event was a success, drawing in attendees from a variety of places, languages, and fields of expertise and covering a multitude of topics. For those of you who were not able to attend this event, you can find a copy below of DVTA President Tony Guerra’s opening and closing remarks – so you can see a small sampling of what you missed!

DVTA President Tony Guerra welcome attendees

DVTA President Tony Guerra welcomes attendees

Opening Remarks

Welcome to DVTA’s East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit!

I am so pleased to see so many familiar and new faces here today. According to our registration records, we have a tremendous representation of language diversity present, including German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, Italian, French, Portuguese, Indonesian, Russian, Japanese, Turkish, Darfurian, Cantonese and Mandarin.

These participants not only represent a variety of language skills in translation, interpretation, transcription, voice-over, editing, subtitling and other applications but many of you are also experts in multiple fields and industries such as legal, medical, pharmaceutical, engineering, financial, government and military, marketing and so on.

I am reminded of a conversation I overheard between two interpreters on a ship that went something like this:

One says to the other “What happens if the ship goes down? I can’t swim…”

The colleague responds, “I can’t either, but I know how to yell for help in nine languages!”

Such talent in one room! Our membership is not limited to just freelance linguists but also agency representatives and project managers. Our Summit is a national and international affair, boasting participants from not only PA but also MD, OH, NY, NJ, DC, DE, TN, OR and even from the Middle East, Jordan!

You can’t imagine how proud I am to be associated with this unique association made up of remarkable skill, intellect and accomplishment. This year marks the 55th year that the DVTA has been in existence. DVTA past president, Helge Gunther, who is with us here today and set the bar very high during her tenure, a few years ago wrote an article for the ATA Chronicle on the history of the DVTA.

Established in 1960, a group of translators from Philadelphia and Camden started to get together for meetings, created some programs and even put out a newsletter. One year later, the newly formed American Translators Association (ATA as we now know it) formally accepted the DVTA as its first Chapter.  Currently there are over 15 Chapters and Affiliates nationwide, with DVTA still regarded as one of the most vital and prolific amongst all.  This reputation is well earned due to the tireless commitment and efforts of our outstanding board of directors, our committees and volunteers and the essential participation of all of you in the programs and events we organize on your behalf – as evidenced here today!

Another driver of our vibrant and dynamic culture is the continued sponsorships that we frequently receive from our corporate and institutional members.  Today’s Summit was made possible in part through the support of the Hispanic Institute, facilitating our use of their beautiful facility here at La Salle; our Platinum Sponsor, Nationalities Service Center; Gold Sponsors Language Services Consultants and Cross Cultural Communications; and Silver Sponsors Magna Legal Services, Accent Interpreting, Ricarti Group, and Magna Voce. Please be sure to stop by their exhibition tables in the Lobby of Holroyd Hall, say hello and introduce yourselves. We are also delighted to have the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) as a special exhibitor.

Now, I would be remiss if I neglected to also acknowledge the American Translators Association, which is our umbrella organization and which provides the DVTA not only with some financial support annually but also guidance, structure and resources to make these types of quality educational programs possible.

DVTA’s affiliation with the ATA, and in particular our Board’s and members’ participation in the ATA Annual Conference, allows us to tap into and bring to you the leading thinkers, teachers and pioneers in the language industry.  These conferences are designed to inspire us to be better translators and interpreters, to sharpen our linguistic skills, refine our technical abilities, and streamline our business practices. We recognize that not everyone has the time or budget to travel to San Francisco for four or five days, so what we try to do here today is to bring you a sampling of the types of fantastic international programming that comes together every year at ATA. The DVTA Programming Committee has done its best to create solid, distinct and enriching sessions in a way that will allow you all to get the most out of a single day.

I’d like to tend now to a bit of housekeeping and logistics regarding the Summit.. Please take the time after each session to fill out the green evaluation form so that DVTA’s Programming Committee is able to ensure that your interests, feedback and preferences are well considered in shaping future events.

In conclusion, I’d like to congratulate all of you for taking the time out of your weekend and for investing in your professional development by participating in our Summit. Not only will you leave enlightened, inspired and better connected to other professionals and agencies, but hopefully, the rewards will also manifest financially.  In other words, attending this Summit makes good business sense.  The May/June Chronicle in your folder has an article on a recent industry survey which reports that translators and interpreters who have some form of certification or accreditation earn about $5K to $10K more per year than those who have none. Quality, precision, education and business savvy do make a difference! Now without further ado, I’d like to present our keynote speaker and my good friend, Ms. Dorothee Racette.

2016-summit-group-dvta-la-salle

Group photo at DVTA East Coast Summit

Closing Remarks

Thank you all for your valuable participation in our Summit.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our Programming Committee for their very hard work to make this Summit happen: Maria Emma Weir and Carlota Dalziel, DVTA Programming Co-Chairs. The Programming Committee: Rudy Tellez, Anne Connor, Eliane Markus and Eileen Haag, for tirelessly lending their time, creativity and energy towards making this happen during the last 6 months

I also want to thank those volunteers that came forward at the 11th hour to help in the actual execution of the event: Marina Fayanova, Melissa Chaves, Laurie Lane and Christine Verduin.

It was my distinct pleasure to work together with all of these volunteers and watch this amazing program take place. Thank you, thank you!

The work began last March, with planning and reviewing feedback from our members. After identifying topics, from there we reached out to potential speakers who were experts in the fields we wanted to include. The venue, the logistics and details all followed over the past seven months.

Please note that in October, we will be conducting elections for three positions which will be opening up on our board of directors and are currently accepting nominations of colleagues – or you may also self-nominate. We will be voting on a new Secretary, as Anne Connor will be stepping down, as will our Program Chairs Maria Weir and Carlota  Dalziel.  Interested candidates may contact Rita Weil or Yongmei Li for more information. We will be sending out reminder emails with details on the elections.

Safe travels and we hope to see you at our next event!

Tony Guerra.

President, DVTA

My Experience as a Volunteer Interpreter

As a freelance translator, my opportunities for personal interaction (or even getting out of my office at all during the day) can be limited. While I appreciate the flexibility of the job and love the work I do, let’s be honest—it can get lonely! I also enjoy volunteering my time for people who are in need. This is why I decided to offer my time as a volunteer interpreter for Philadelphia VIP.

While my main business is translation, I have received training and had some experience as an interpreter as well. A course at the graduate level introduced me to the interpreting world and showed me what an amazing opportunity interpreters have to be the missing link in the chain of communication for so many individuals, so when I heard about Philly VIP’s need for volunteer interpreters, I jumped at the chance to work with them.

Philadelphia VIP is an organization that offers pro bono legal services to low-income Philly area clients. Volunteer attorneys aid the organization’s clients in a wide range of civil cases, and in some of these cases the attorneys need volunteer interpreters to assist with client-attorney communication for those with limited English proficiency. These volunteer interpreters are never asked to interpret in court.

Interpreters are assigned on a case-by-case basis, so I am working to facilitate communication between one attorney and one client as they work on and discuss the case. In my current case, I have had the opportunity to meet with the client and attorney both in person and over the phone, spending no more than one hour per week on the case. I have had the chance to enable communication as they deal with the client’s tax issues and try to sort through what kind of legal help he needs.

One of my favorite things about this experience has been the gratitude I sense from both the client and the lawyer. It’s very rewarding to hear both of them say that they don’t know what they would do without me, and it’s great to know that I’ve helped give someone peace of mind and a better future.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering as an interpreter for Philadelphia VIP, contact Rida Haq at rhaq@phillyvip.org or complete the volunteer enrollment form at https://phillyvip.org/content/language-access-volunteer-enrollment-form.

DVTA Looks Back at 2015’s Successes and Makes Resolutions for 2016

This past year saw some great success for DVTA at the hands of our very involved and hardworking board members and volunteers. Not only did the Association hold its regular annual events, such as the Winter Luncheon at Cabrini College, the Summer Picnic/Networking Event at Appleford Estate, and the Annual Business Meeting at Magna Legal Services, we were able to move forward with other efforts and events that have greatly benefitted the membership as a whole.

The first major accomplishment DVTA enjoyed this year was to get its new website and member portal up and running in early April. The new site features a single platform (WordPress) for all of DVTA members’ needs, making it a great one-stop shop for everything related to the Association. Now, members can access the event calendar, DVTA blog, directory of language services professionals, and members-only forum all in one place. This effort would not have been possible if not for the hard work of many board members and other individuals, whose work is also lessened by this new site through automated membership notifications and reminders. A long-awaited relief!

DVTA’s second big news from 2015 was the Spring into Action event held at La Salle University. The two-day conference brought in attendees from a variety of different locations for a weekend of great sessions on Spanish translation and interpreting, as well as excellent networking opportunities. This joint effort by DVTA, the Hispanic Institute at La Salle University, and the ATA Spanish Language Division attracted over 130 attendees, some of whom sat for the ATA certification exam offered the second day of the event.

Another key success for DVTA in the past year has been its increased media exposure. Board and corporate members of the Association were interviewed for an August edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, offering insights about the translation industry and the future of language services. DVTA was also featured on the cover of the September 2015 edition of the ATA Chronicle, which highlighted the Association’s efforts in conjunction with the First Judicial District Court to develop and implement an ongoing shadowing program for judicial interpreters.

The year to come also holds great promise for DVTA. Elections for three new board positions (one secretary and two events/programs co-chairs) will be held in September, and the Association will host its annual Winter Luncheon on March 13 (once again this year at the magnificent Mansion at Cabrini College) and Summer Picnic/Networking Event in August. The Association is also planning to hold the first East Coast Translation and Interpretation Summit in September. This Summit will be non-language specific and an ATA certification exam will be offered during the event. If you are interested in helping to plan and coordinate this exciting new effort, please contact our Programming Co-Chairs: Carlota Dalziel (rc4dalziel@comcast.net) and María Weir (maria@mariaweir.com).

Managing the Ups and Downs of Freelancing

Managing the Ups and Downs of Freelancing

Written by Jamie Hartz

The choice to be a freelancer comes with a lot of fluctuation—there are slow times and busy times, and there are stressful projects and easier projects. The ups and downs that come with freelancing are aplenty—we often deal with loneliness, the stress of making all our own decisions, the struggles of having a home office (with the distractions of children, neighbors, pets, and housework)—and yet the majority of freelance translators and interpreters report that they are very satisfied with their work. How is that possible, you ask? It’s possible because we learn to manage the ups and downs.

The “ups” of freelancing tend to be easy to manage. We prioritize and make lists (dozens of lists, all over the house and home office!). We learn not to overbook ourselves, taking each project as it comes and planning our time effectively. We learn to leverage work we’ve done in the past, using old glossaries and TMs from previous projects. The “downs” are trickier, but managing the slow or discouraging times as a freelancer is the key to making your career sustainable and rewarding. Below are six tips I’d like to offer on managing the ups and downs of freelancing; take it from someone who’s riding the ups and downs at this very moment!

  1. Use downtime to market yourself.

A colleague recently reminded me that devoting 50% of your time to well-paying work and 50% to business development is better than devoting 99% to low-paying work and 1% to business development. If you have downtime you can devote to developing your client list and gaining better-paying clients, use it wisely! Create a marketing plan that will allow you to complete small, specific tasks related to marketing yourself on each day that you have downtime. Personally, I’ve found that downtime is the perfect opportunity to work on developing my website and adding in keywords that will help my site’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

  1. Keep good records and update them during slow times.

Keeping good records is important for any business, but as a freelancer it’s absolutely vital. In order to leverage previous work and plan for the future, you need to have client lists, rate sheets, and project databases organized and ready to work for you. Take advantage of slow times to organize a spreadsheet or a computer folder that has been accumulating junk for a few months, or to set up a new invoicing system that will streamline your billing process.

Keeping records will also help you to plan ahead. By looking back at your records kept from previous months or years, you may realize that a certain week is slow every year and you should plan a vacation for that time next year. During a recent slump in my work, I was encouraged to look at my records and find that I was still meeting my goals even though I had a few slow weeks towards the end of the year.

  1. Develop new skills or hone old ones.

Downtime can be a good opportunity to try new things. During slow times, consider volunteering your language skills for an organization in your area or a volunteer translator website. Volunteering can help you develop new skills; for example, if you are a translator, you may consider volunteering in a subject area you haven’t worked in before (with the understanding that a qualified professional should check your work). If you’re looking to begin offering a new service, such as transcription or interpreting, this can be a good time to hone those skills as well. I recently took a training course in interpreting but haven’t had much opportunity to practice it professionally, so one of the things I’d like to do in my downtime is volunteer as an interpreter for an immigrant and refugee center in York.

  1. Build your network.

Try building up your network during downtime, not only as a way to fill your time, but also as a way to get new work. Get to know other freelancers, whether in person in your local area or through social media. My experience has been that fellow freelancers are incredibly supportive and will be happy to give you tips to carry you through the rough times. Some of the people you meet may even become informal mentors or may refer work to you at times. Some ways to meet and connect with other professionals include chambers of commerce and meet-up groups. I personally plan on joining a Young Professionals Network here in Lancaster after the holidays to meet other like-minded people and expand my network.

  1. Keep a list of things you want to do “someday”.

When you have some downtime and have exhausted all of your professional efforts to market yourself, keep good records, develop new skills, and build your network, pull out this list. One of the perks of freelancing is that there’s no boss to tell you that you can’t go for a jog in the middle of the day or pull out that craft project you’ve been working on since 2002. I consider myself lucky to have had enough downtime in the last few weeks of the year to work on making Christmas gifts from ideas I found on Pinterest; this is the first year I’ve actually had time to do that!

  1. Hold a “Do It Day”.

One final suggestion I have on managing downtime is to gather a few freelance colleagues and hold a “Do It Day” (shout-out to freelance translators Corinne McKay and Tess Whitty for this idea). This is a day that you dedicate exclusively to cracking down on that list of tasks you’ve been avoiding for too long. You and your colleagues (I would limit it to three or four) connect once each hour to tell each other what you did in the last hour and what you plan to do in the next hour. My group uses ooVoo, a free video chat software. I have found that this is a great way to take advantage of downtime in a fun way that will hold you accountable to cutting down on that ever-growing to-do list.

Managing ups and downs isn’t easy, but if you leverage them to your advantage, your career will be far more rewarding and the busy times will return before you know it.