Outreach Report

Certification: Translators’ and Interpreters’ Professional Development Workshop

Evelyn Yang Garland, ATA Director

Once again, ATA took advantage of an opportunity to educate nonmembers about what we do and of the importance of certification as a signal of professionalism that can be easily communicated and recognized by the public.

ATA was invited to speak about its Certification Program at the 2015 Translators’ and Interpreters’ Professional Development Workshop, sponsored by Multicultural Community Service (MCS), a nonprofit organization promoting language access in the nation’s capital.1 The workshop was held in Washington, DC, with the support of the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs and in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank.

MCS stated on its website that the goal of this full-day event was to “highlight and embrace the work, skills development, and best practices that many language practitioners are seeking to diversify and maximize their language skills, including the dual role of interpreter and translator.” Session topics included post-editing and translation software, as well as best practices for interpreting in various settings. A highlight was a keynote address by ATA member Diane de Terra, a master conference interpreter and former dean of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

As a local ATA member and Board director, I participated in a panel discussion geared toward those seeking a better understanding of the certification exam process, including those wishing to pursue court certification. I discussed the nature and benefits of ATA’s certification exam, as well as the registration process and how to prepare. I also gave a brief overview of other benefits of ATA membership. I encouraged participants to take advantage of local resources, including the National Capital Area Translators Association, ATA’s DC chapter. Representatives from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the International Medical Interpreters Association were also part of the panel.

More than 50 workshop participants attended the panel discussion. The audience was a diverse group—translators and interpreters of various experience levels, as well as individuals who were considering careers in translation and interpreting. Overall, there seemed to be a strong interest in ATA certification, even though over half of those present had never heard of the exam.

The majority of questions I answered after the panel concluded concerned the specific conditions under which the exams are administered and how to prepare. A few ATA members in the audience shared their experiences, encouraging nonmembers to join the Association and participate in its activities, especially the Annual Conference.

I was impressed with the strong spirit of teamwork that pervaded the event. My fellow panelists and I worked together to make sure participants understood the importance of becoming certified, whether through ATA or another organization. We provided them with enough specific resources to pursue a path toward professional advancement well-suited to their individual needs. This type of collaboration between groups seems to be one of the most effective ways to reach out to potential members.


1Multicultural Community Service, www.dccommunityinterpreters.org.

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