The pandemic year has affected interpreters profoundly. The ATA Interpreters Division surveyed the members in August 2020, and the results were clear. From March to May 2020, everyone saw a decline in their income. Over 75% of respondents said their income had decreased by at least 60% during those months.  Just under a third (28%) saw their income disappear – they reported a 100% drop. By June, 33% were seeing their income return.

It has been a difficult year. Interpreters must make up lost income. Some have told me that they are adjusting their expenditures by moving to less costly homes. Others have run through their savings to stay afloat. Many had no safety net.

In this context, many stepped up and provided free training for their colleagues. There were courses on almost anything.

I am working with a team of interpreters with the highest qualifications in their language pairs to provide free continuing ed. We will be providing six hours of skills and six hours of ethics at no cost, starting on March 25. This is targeted to meet the needs of Oregon healthcare interpreters on the OHA roster, which requires these hours of CE to renew the credential.

Click here for training details. This page has links to the registration site for each session.

Do non-English speakers use telemedicine?

Non-English speakers are less likely to use telemedicine. The American Journal of Managed Care reported that “telemedicine access differences may compound disparities in chronic disease and COVID-19 outcomes. Institutions should monitor video visit use across demographics and equip patients, clinicians, and practices to promote telemedicine equity.” Even with remote communication systems available, many did not access the services they needed.

What was done to support interpreters in Oregon?

The Oregon Council for Healthcare Interpreters, where I am Vice Chair, provided helpful resources for the profession. See a summary of our work, where you will find links to the following documents:

  • Infection Control Guidance (use of PPE)
  • Language Proficiency Testing Vendor Application
  • Remote Interpreting as a Specialty
  • Recommendations for Training Interpreter Trainers

Oregon Interpreters in Action distributed surgical masks to interpreters who requested them. As a member, I thank them for their support of the profession.

This year, we saw a lot of solidarity among interpreters. This new CE series is a small contribution.

As we make our way forward, we hope that interpreters can work in person again soon.

In Oregon, healthcare interpreters were in the level 1A priority for vaccination. I hope this helps in the process of providing appropriate access to services for non-English-speaking persons. We can’t lose professionals to the pandemic by making the renewal process cumbersome this year. Providing free CE is necessary this year, when work took such a beating and professionals are still in recovery.

Please review the offerings in the 2021 OHA Continuing Education for Healthcare Interpreters series. We will be glad to see you there!