Blog

Read our blog for regular updates on the interpreting business and product updates!

California Interpreters Finally Exempt From AB5

August 31st, 2020 by Interpreter Intelligence

The die is cast. Interpreters and translators in California have been granted an exemption from AB 5. It’s been almost 9 months since the controversial AB 5 bill went into effect, which reclassified independent interpreters and translators in California as employees, and no longer as independent contractors. After a year of petitioning, protesting, and lobbying, interpreters and translators have been exempt from AB 5 through “clean up” bill AB 2557.

Over the past year, we have covered AB 5 extensively at Interpreter Intelligence. You may remember reading one of our previous blog posts on AB 5 and the damage it did to language access in California, not to mention the damage it did to the livelihood of thousands of translators and interpreters:

August 12, 2019: Interpreter Misclassification in California: Why It’s A Huge Problem
January 8, 2020: California’s AB5 Bill Taking Its Toll
April 16, 2020: New Bill To Protect California Interpreters From AB5
June 9, 2020: Freelance Interpreters in California: Where Are We Now?

Lobbyists tried to obtain an exemption for language professionals at numerous times. First, through AB 5 directly, then through SB 900, then through AB 1850, but ultimately, it was with AB 2557 where they finally managed to include the long-awaited amendments exempting independent interpreters and translators from the AB 5 restrictions. Here’s an overview of the most significant amendments in AB 2557:

– AB 2257 exempts translators under professional services
– Exempts, in most cases, sole proprietorships
– Interpreters, must be certified or registered to be exempt IF such a certification or registration exists for their language and domain
– Interpreters continue to fall under referral agencies, but they are no longer required to represent that they perform the work under their own name

For a full overview of the terms of AB 2557, please click
here.

Thanks to the efforts of countless independent interpreters and translators, language organizations, lobby groups, and particularly, thanks to the Coalition of Practicing Translators & Interpreters of California (CoPTIC), California legislators finally came to understand the importance of granting an exemption to language professionals. They play a vital role in California, not only by helping and protecting vulnerable minorities with LEP (Limited English Proficiency), but also by protecting the interests of the many global businesses that make The Golden State one of the most powerful economies in the world.

4 Crucial Operational Strategies for LSPs

August 13th, 2020 by Interpreter Intelligence

Operational strategies refers to the methods companies use to reach their objectives. By developing operational strategies, a company can examine and implement effective and efficient systems for using resources, personnel and the work process. As a Language Service Provider, these strategies are very unique, and the tools you use to implement those strategies are as well. Below is a list of the most important operational strategies you should consider as a Language Service Provider, along with recommendations on how to implement those in your day-to-day operations.

1) Efficiency

First and foremost, the way your team collaborates needs to be as efficient as possible. Preferably, your team should be using a cloud-based platform so that everyone has access to the same up-to-date information. Cloud-based solutions also allow teams to work remotely, which has obviously become indispensable for companies in 2020. Also, by using a centralized platform, your team will have access to all relevant information in one single location. No need to jump from one tool to another. No need to go back-and-forth between your email inbox and the never-ending spreadsheets. 

Secondly, your service delivery process needs to be efficient as well. Language service delivery comprises many different stakeholders (customers, translators, interpreters, consumers, administrators, onsite contacts, etc.). They all take part in the language service delivery process at some point, so it’s important to keep things moving. By allowing those stakeholders restricted and personalized access to your workflow, you can eliminate bottlenecks in the service delivery cycle, and decrease the amount of time that transpires between the service request and the final invoice.

2) Scalability

More business shouldn’t necessarily mean more work! It’s important to operate your business through a tool that can automate your workflow, and perform actions in bulk. Scheduling assignments, sending out communications, processing invoices, generating reports,… Use a system that can automate these processes. Being able to process many requests at the same time, from start to finish, is ultimately how you can truly grow as a company. If you use different systems, most likely lacking integration, then you will never be able to properly scale as a company. It’s important to make the right technological decisions as early as possible to get your business on the right track.

3) Customer (& Language Professional) Centric

Customer experience is paramount for any type of business. As a Language Service Provider, however, you are not only focusing on your customers’ experience, but also on your linguists’ experience. You want to give your customers and linguists direct access to your workflow, in a way that is relevant and intuitive to them. Your customers should be able to directly request language services, either through your platform, or through a form linking to your platform. They might also require white labeling, masking the branding of whatever technological tool you are using. Also, customers often have their own ways of doing things, so make sure the tool you are using has the flexibility to accommodate your customers’ workflow as well.

When it comes to your translators and interpreters, make sure their energy is mostly spent on providing the actual language service. This means making the tools they need to work with as intuitive as possible, and if necessary, providing them with step-by-step instructions on how to use those tools. Use a tool that allows your linguists to interact with your business in a way that is convenient to them. This means making sure your workflow is accessible via mobile as well as via browser. Also allow your linguists to choose how they provide their service: via browser, mobile app, or via traditional phone line (for OPI interpreters for example). The tech you are using needs to be able to cover all these scenarios in order to guarantee an optimal experience for your customers, as well as your translators and interpreters.

4) Future Proof

As the language industry evolves, so should your business. The past few months have shown that the language industry is definitely not immune to change. For example, due to COVID-19, en masse, interpreting service providers were forced to transition their business models from onsite to remote in a matter of weeks. The LSPs that were able to make this transition the fastest definitely came out ahead. Long story short, equip your business with tools that can help you navigate change and keep your company technologically up-to-date.

Apart from remote features and regular updates, partnering with the right technology provider will also ensure your data meets the necessary privacy and security requirements. As a Language Service Provider, you store a lot of sensitive information about your customers and contractors. The guidelines on how to protect that data change all the time. Experienced technology providers think about this all the time, so put your trust in them to bear the burden for you, and make sure your business always abides by the law, and is fully HIPAA-compliant.

Interpreter Intelligence

If you’re an organization that provides interpretation services, Interpreter Intelligence can help. Moving your operations onto our interpreter platform will allow you and your team to work as efficiently as possible, to scale your business quickly, to make sure your stakeholders have an optimal experience, and to future-proof your business. We know that changing the way your business operates can be difficult, but our dedicated support team can make the transition to Interpreter Intelligence as seamless and smooth as possible. Easily migrate your data with our import templates, and get full access to step-by-step training materials for your staff, and if necessary, even for your customers and interpreters. Stop being busy and start being productive! Contact us now to schedule a demo!

Any operational strategies you would like to add? Anything we forgot to mention? Let us know!

Sponsoring Interpreter Education Online’s First International Online Conference

June 26th, 2020 by Interpreter Intelligence

Interpreter Intelligence is proud to be a platinum sponsor for Interpreter Education Online’s first International Online Conference. IEO is an organization that provides quality training and testing for interpreters, helps its clients maintain quality assurance, and is committed to upholding industry standards. On our behalf, Interpreter Intelligence is honored to be involved with IEO’s first international online conference, aimed to tackle questions around language access in ‘the new normal’.

The theme of Interpreter Education Online’s inaugural conference was the transformation of the interpreting and translation profession during and post pandemic. The conference brought together expert speakers from language companies, language associations, political organizations, and hundreds of interpreters and translators. Together, we discussed the current state of the language industry, and how we can all adapt to the current market and political landscape.

Click here to see the full conference program. To see a full recording of the conference, please contact the team at Interpreter Education Online. Interpreter Intelligence being a platinum sponsor for the conference, our CEO, Conor Power, recorded a short video to be played during the conference. Watch it below.

Freelance Interpreters in California: Where Are We Now?

June 9th, 2020 by Interpreter Intelligence

AB5, the bill reclassifying California interpreters as employees and no longer as independent contractors, has been in effect for 6 months now. Given that the bill is detrimental to the livelihood of professional interpreters, not to mention its damaging effects to language access for minorities in California, it has been met with a lot of resistance. SB 900 was introduced to undo the damage of AB5, but that bill fell flat. A new clean-up bill called AB 1850 has now been introduced, but it still doesn’t exempt professional interpreters from AB5 (for now).

A combination of AB5 and COVID-19 has left many professional linguists in California with zero assignments, and zero income. Language industry leaders were quick to act, and Senator Jerry Hill drafted SB 900, a bill providing a set of conditions allowing freelance interpreters to continue to operate in California. However, Senator Hill quickly withdrew from the bill amid union pressure. The livelihood of freelance interpreters was again in danger and we were back to square one.

Soon after, AB 1850 was introduced. AB 1850 is an assembly clean-up bill looking to protect professional linguists in California. For now, though, the bill states that only certified translators are exempt from AB5. Certified translators represent less than 10% of all professional linguists in California. In other words, AB 1850 only covers a tiny sliver of professional linguists and omits all interpreters. The exclusion has huge negative implications for Californians with limited English proficiency, people with disabilities, and millions of Californians who depend on interpreters for reliable language access.

The sponsor of the bill, Lorena Gonzalez, incidentally the same Assemblywoman who sponsored AB5, recognized that the language of the exemption was a work in progress. Still, the road ahead is long and paved with many obstacles. As AB 1850 finds its way to the Senate, it is important for interpreters, language professionals, and language advocates to make their voices heard. Highly skilled interpreters have to be included in the bill, not only to ensure their livelihood, but to ensure language access for those who desperately need it.

If you work in California and feel passionate about this issue, find your legislators here, and email or call them to further educate them on the independent and highly skilled nature of the interpreting profession, and to urge them for an exemption for interpreters.

How Private and Secure Is Video Conferencing?

April 27th, 2020 by Interpreter Intelligence

Video conferencing tools are now part of everyday life. As remote work has become the norm across the globe, tools like Facetime, WhatsApp, Zoom, Hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams have seen online activity explode. But how private and secure are these video conferencing tools? And what type of tool should you consider using for your own business? A deeper dive reveals that the privacy and security of some of these tools are far from perfect.

Privacy vs. Security

The first thing you should know is that privacy and security are two different things. Privacy refers to individuals’ universal rights to control their data. Security is how that data is protected. When it comes to security, companies preferably use end-to-end encryption to ensure that even the companies themselves do not have access to the contents of anyone’s communication. As far as privacy is concerned, you better hope companies aren’t collecting data about your video calls and selling that data to third parties.

Zoom

In its latest privacy policy, Zoom claims it “does not allow third parties to use any personal data, unless you consent.” However, many people skip this part of Zoom’s terms of service, meaning most users unknowingly consent to Zoom selling their data. Also, Zoom recently made headlines when it became clear unwanted users could ‘crash’ random Zoom calls, but recent updates have fortunately added an additional layer of security to Zoom’s video calls.

Microsoft Teams

On the other hand, Microsoft Teams’ privacy policy leaves no questions. It explicitly states that it “collects data from you, through our interactions with you and through our products.” Microsoft is upfront about using people’s information. According to Microsoft, they use your information to personalize your experience and to participate in legal investigations. Microsoft may frame it this way, but make no mistake, all personal data on their platform is fair game.

Skype

For many, Skype was the tool that introduced them to video conferencing. But Skype is definitely not perfect. It shares user data with third parties, across the entire Microsoft family, and even with law enforcement when asked. To up its security, like Microsoft Teams, Skype uses dual-factor authentication, but it also ended up succumbing to Microsoft’s massive customer breach earlier this year.

WhatsApp & FaceTime

WhatsApp & FaceTime both provide end-to-end encryption, and are relatively private and secure. Consumer-facing products are often more regulated, so there is no need to worry about your data when using any of these two applications. So far, the two applications have been without major security breaches. But let’s face it, we do not use WhatsApp or FaceTime for any business meetings anyway.

Interpreter Intelligence

At Interpreter Intelligence, we are committed to your privacy and security. All our video and voice calls have end-to-end encryption, and we never record or store any calls. Interpreter Intelligence is fully HIPAA compliant, and always has been. If you provide remote interpretation services, you can rely on us to run your business. Contact our team for a demo, or for more information on our platform’s privacy and security. And don’t forget to do your research before you click ‘Agree’ next time!

New Bill To Protect California Interpreters From AB5

April 16th, 2020 by Interpreter Intelligence

AB5, which went into effect January 1st, has caused a lot of controversy over the past few months as it reclassified interpreters and translators in California as employees, and no longer as independent contractors. Given that over 75% of practicing interpreters and translators in California are independent contractors, AB5 has threatened the livelihood of many language professionals. However, a newly drafted state legislation bill aims to provide a path to undo the damage of AB5.

SB 900, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Hill, provides a set of conditions, including credentials, whereby practicing interpreters and translators can continue to operate and serve Californians. The bill protects access to essential language service by Californians, including people with disabilities or with limited English proficiency, crucial to every aspect of daily life in California. SB 900 aso prevents cutoff of highly trained professionals, led by women- and immigrant-run small businesses, who are the backbone of a growing $2 billion sector of the California economy.

Language organizations continue to work with legislators to finetune the bill. CoPTIC (Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California) advocates met with Sen. Jerry Hill ahead of the bill’s introduction. Other organizations such as the American Translators Association (ATA), the American Association of Language Specialists (TAALS), and the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) have united in support of the new bill.

“Interpreters and translators are an essential lifeline for Americans in every sector of society, including public health. SB 900 respects the hard-won expertise and restores the capacity to practice by thousands of linguists in California who, like the overwhelming majority of our profession, work independently or self-employed. We look forward to the continued improvement of this bill and its approval this year”, said Bill Rivers, executive director of the JNCL.

If you work in California and feel passionate about this issue, find your legislators here, and email or call them to further educate them on the independent and highly skilled nature of the interpreting profession.