Telephonic Interpretation, how important is quality and accuracy?

By Atlas LS

First, interpretation is a very difficult process. It is not just black and white, there are hundreds of items that an interpreter must consider while interpreting which makes our job difficult, other times rewarding beyond belief.  In a recent article published by Fox News, they reported on a case that has recently been dropped due to an improper telephonic interpretation.

What is Telephonic Interpretation?

For those who don’t know, telephonic interpretation is when an interpreter at an offsite location interpreting consecutively via a conference call.  In the article dated June 8, 2011 Fox News stated that the case against Mr. Antonio Martinez-Nunez, [who had nine (9) charges pending, including aggravated murder and abuse of a corpse] has been dropped by the Ohio Prosecutor due to the telephonic interpreter providing “incomplete Miranda warnings of his rights”.

“Police interpreter failed to tell Mr. Martinez-Nunez that he could end the interview at anytime, and Martinez-Nunez also made several requests to talk with his consulate that were not acknowledged” according to Fox News.

Training & Qualifications

Without knowing the intermit details of the call nor the case, it reminded me as to why Atlas Languages Services, Inc. has set such strict standards and quality control on our telephonic interpretation line.  All our telephonic interpreters are 100% U.S. based and trained in multiple specialties including health care, legal, insurance, governmental, educational to name a few.

In additional telephonic interpreters should be consistently trained and qualified.  Add to that interpreters should be HIPAA compliant, Safe Harbor certified and Section 508 compliant, as well as licensed, bonded and insured.  All these steps add to the credentials as well as the knowledge of the interpreter in regards to terminology and protocol.

Telephonic interpretation is very important and since telephonic interpreters can be interpreting for a judge in a criminal proceeding; police, fire or emergency medical personnel during life threatening situations; or for a parent of a school age child, our job as telephonic interpreters is to provide the most accurate interpretation possible and not to exclude or omit any details.

The Importance of Note-taking

Telephonic interpreters must also be highly adept at note-taking.  Considering that telephonic interpretation requires the consecutive mode of interpretation, and because lengths of utterances can be extremely long, it is very common for telephonic interpreters to rely heavily on notes to support their memory and to provide accuracy and completeness in their interpretation.  It is important for an interpreter to request that parties do not speak over each other and not turn away from the telephone’s microphone when speaking nor to rumple papers next to the phone as we cannot interpret what we can not hear.

These are just a few of the issues that telephonic interpreters face every day, it is a clear reminder how important it is to ensure that our interpretation is accurate and that we do not omit any details.  Our job is to interpret, nothing more or less.

Atlas Language Services, Inc., a Chicago based Language Service Provider specializing in language interpretation (spoken), translation (written), globalization, localization and conference interpretation and simultaneous conference equipment rentals and sales.

With over 20 years of industry experience in the legal, medical, corporate, pharmaceutical, engineering and conference interpretation fields as well as expertise in written translations for advertising, marketing, promotions, sales, human resources, publications and technical research material, you can be assured that Atlas can handle all your language needs, not just domestically but worldwide.

Atlas Language Services, Inc. is an A+ rated business by the Better Business Bureau as well as a corporate member of:  American Translators Association; Association of Language Companies; Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce; Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; Midwest Association of Translators & Interpreters; Meeting Planners International; and the Illinois Paralegal Association.

Atlas Language Services, Inc. can be reached on our contact us page.