Toughening Language Tests for Court Interpreters

Tony Guerra, Director of Interpreting Services at CETRA Language Solutions

Toughening language tests for court interpreters limiting number of interpreters

By Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer Staff Writer

Nothing in Pennsylvania’s beefed-up requirements for court interpreters would have helped administrator Osvaldo Aviles solve the problem he faced last week.

The job? Interpreting for a Nigerian participant in a case in Pittsburgh. “The problem is that we have to find out which of the 57 Nigerian dialects this person speaks,” Aviles said.

That was last week’s challenge. On Saturday, Aviles, who administers the state’s court interpretation program, has another one: He must convince 70 foreign-language court interpreters and translators that the state’s strengthened regulations matter, even if they mean many of them will be out of work.

In 2006, Pennsylvania enacted a law requiring court interpreters to take tests proving they can listen to and simultaneously translate court proceedings as they occur.

The regulations included a grace period to gain certification. That ended Jan. 1, hence the rising anxiety among interpreters.

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