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ATA Conference Report, NY, October 2009

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The ATA has 11,000 members and the conference attracted 2,300 participants from dozens of countries. There were 150 educational sessions including panel discussions, expert presentations, training workshops, and scholarly papers.


sites/default/files/November2009 005.jpgNational Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters - exhibited. Interest was high with a constant flow of interpreters, trainers, providers and others - inquiring about the certification process and registration. There were many discussions on certification at the other events, receptions, meals, and in the corridors, as certification for medical interpreters is a hot topic.

Open Dialog on National Interpreter Certification: Possibility or Pipe Dream? - This presentation discussed the status for the ASL, community, medical, conference and legal interpreter certification. Katherine Allen from CHIA moderated and attempted to give a balanced presentation admitting the challenges concluding that just a couple of years ago “leaders” in the field were saying national medical interpreter certification was years away. She said this development is positive, since it will afford a framework for the profession as well as a baseline for competency that will evolve in future iterations of the test. The room was packed with interpreters, trainers and association leaders among others. An attendee suggested including languages where no certification exists – in her case, Hebrew pointing out that there is a “hunger for credentials.” Janet Erickson Johnson refuted the concept that the certification tests are simply “tweaked” extensions of previous exams. She also answered the idea that for-profits somehow “taint” the process – and emphasized that it takes everybody to do a project of this magnitude and we need to work together and not exclude anyone.

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