Interpreter Community

CWCIA was present at InterpretAmerica’s 5th Summit held June 12‐13, 2015 at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California.

   IA5 Summit    

 Approximately 125 attendees from all over the country visited CWCIA’s booth, speaking with President Gilbert Calhoun, and learning more about the association’s work. Board member Robert Duran and his wife Yolanda, were on hand to field questions about the Poster, which showcased CWCIA’s accomplishments and highlighted its goals. The booth and Poster were in the same hall alongside those of other industry leaders such as the American Translator’s Association (ATA), the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI), and the California Healthcare Interpreters Association (CHIA).

Lorena Ortiz Schneider, board member and IP&O member was one of 7 speakers presenting the Interpret-ED talk “Interpreter Pay & Working Conditions: Who is in Control?” The 15-minute talk was meant to stimulate thought about the wisdom of working for the large conglomerates offering interpreting as just another item in their bundled services. It was well received, and even tweeted about as a topic of great concern industry wide.
All plenary sessions and talks were live video streamed by VoiceBoxer, and viewed by an additional 80 people remotely.
CWCIA’s attendance was very well received, and many expressed delight that we were there. Others didn’t know who we were, so it was a great opportunity to get on the industry map. Though the conference was small, it was attended by leaders of the interpreting industry nationwide who tirelessly work towards bringing all sectors together for a common goal: to have a voice in shaping our profession.
InterpretAmerica collaborates with GALA, and will hold a conference, Think! Interpreting, in New York from March 20‐23, 2016 and the InterpretAmerica Summit will be back in California in the spring of 2017.

CWCIA was invited by the California Federation of Interpreters (CFI) to present at their annual conference in 2014, which was held in Los Angeles and was titled: Focusing on Our Future


From left to right: Maria Palacios, Veronica Perez, Gregoria Lara (CFI conference organizer), Gilbert Calhoun, Lorena Ortiz Schneider

The California Federation of Interpreters (CFI) was interested in bringing unity across interpreting sectors in California and thus reached out to CWCIA at a time when court interpreters are increasingly seeking work in the Workers' Compensation arena. CWCIA believes that we all share the same goals when it comes to improving working conditions, bringing wages into the 21st century and protecting the interests of the interpreter community (which includes Language Service Providers). CWCIA’s intention as an association is to include all interpreters, whether they lead small to mid-sized local LSPs or work as freelancers, because without one, there wouldn’t be the other. The presentation was about how interpreters working in the field of Workers’ Compensation are facing the same challenges as are court interpreters and offered solutions for finding common ground for supporting each other in the face of the increasing use of non-certified/qualified interpreters by large LSPs or by those who don’t understand the importance of professional interpreters.

 The presentation,  Grace Under Fire was a joint effort, with the IP&O Committee contributing information, that then became a power point presentation. Lorena Ortiz Schneider was the presenter, with President Gilbert Calhoun, IP&O Member Veronica Perez and CWCIA Secretary Maria Palacio in attendance. The substance of the presentation was to offer a sampling of the hybrid medical-legal language and in particular acronyms, that work comp interpreters must know, and then to describe the best practices used in our field. The message was that while, as interpreters, we share many things in common, interpreting in the work comp setting brings with it its own set of challenges and procedures that court interpreters wanting to enter the field must know about in order to meet with success.

 Notable is that CWCIA was invited to present alongside such well-known speakers such as:        

  • Marjory Bancroft of Cross-Cultural Communications

  • Caitilin Walsh, President of the American Translators Association

  • Holly Mikkelson and Laura Burian, faculty at the Monterey Institute of International Studies

  • Claudia Villalba, on behalf of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators

  • Tony Rivas, lead trainer on behalf of the National Center for Interpretation at the University of Arizona

  • Agustín de la Mora, on behalf of de la Mora Interpreter Training based in Florida

  • Tony Rosado, well-known interpreter trainer and author of The Professional Interpreter blog

  • Katharine Allen, co-president of InterpretAmerica

Oakland comments

CWCIA leadership at the public hearing in Oakland submitting public comments in oposition of SB863.


Thank you to our members/contacts

Dear Colleagues,

 Thank you SO MUCH for sending your comments in!!

 On April 11, 2018, CWCIA sent out an appeal to all of the major interpreting associations, including ATA, NAJIT, AIJIIC, InterpretAmerica, ALC, as well as to CCHI, MIIS and CCC, urging them to comment on the proposed fee schedule the DIR came out with earlier this month.

 They all pushed out our message to their contacts, in the thousands as was the case by CCC (their newsletter reaches 1100) and InterpretAmerica (their posting online got over 800 views). Information was also sent to SLATOR, which published an article about it and that newsletter gets world-wide readership.

 There were only 22 pages of comments posted on the Forum website by April 13, 2018, the deadline. Then, on Monday, there were 290 pages! The DIR was certainly hard at work over the weekend.

 As I sat down to read them over the following days, another 100 pages were posted. This is nothing short of remarkable: a total of 394 pages. Yes, I read them all.  And all of you played an integral part by commenting, posting to your social networks, spreading the word and encouraging others to defend our profession.

 Comments were made not only by dozens of freelance interpreters in and out of CA, but also agencies, association leaders, educational and training programs, attorneys, physician associations (CSCIMS) and advocates for injured workers CAAA.

 SCIF, Zenith, Liberty, OneCall, as you may have expected, all commented in favor, but the overwhelming majority of comments were against the proposal.

 We have given the DIR/DWC a lot to chew on and hopefully this sends them back to the drawing board for a long time.

 Thanks again for your commitment to our profession,

Lorena Ortiz Schneider for CWCIA


California Interpreter Fees: Filing a Petition for Costs Deemed Unnecessary in Certain Situations

LexusNexis issued the following article:






Interpreters voice opposition to proposed fee schedule

Many Interpreting organizations and other industry professionals voiced their opposition to the the proposed fee schedule. 

Slator: Language Industry Intelligence

 California Interpreters Push Back on Proposed New Fee Structure

Is USD 448 enough compensation for a full day’s work for a certified interpreter servicing a hearing and deposition in California? What about USD 225 for half a day’s work?

The California Division of Workers Compensation (DWC) wants to know so it is seeking public comment on the proposed interpreter fee schedule regulations it posted to its online forum on April 2, 2018. The chief objective of the proposal is to create a uniform fee structure, which it said is based on the federal court system.

Interpreters’ compensation has become a thorny issue in California ever since amendments have been introduced in the Labor Code and other state laws over the past three years to curb the incidence of medical fraud.

In May 2017, a group of interpreters even took the DWC to court over the new system of compensation for interpreters. In June, the same group led the fight against allowing “provisionally certified” interpreters to work if certified legal and medical interpreters are not available, which the group claimed has led to the undercutting of fees.

The new regulations submitted for public comment appear to correct this loophole since the proposed professional fee for “certified” and “provisionally certified” were markedly different. The DWC said in its announcement that the higher rates proposed for “certified” interpreters are meant to encourage the use of certified interpreters.

‘Certified’ Vs ‘Provisionally Certified’

Under the proposed fee structure, an interpreter who renders a service in hearings and depositions would be paid USD 225 for a half day’s work and USD 448 for a full day’s work. However, a provisionally certified interpreter would only get half of the amount at USD 121 for a half day’s work and USD 234 for a full day’s work.

Meanwhile, there are specific rates for interpretation at a medical treatment appointment or a medical-legal evaluation, which is priced at USD 86.50 per hour for a certified interpreter, while provisionally certified interpreters would only get USD 57.75 per hour.   

The DWC said that the organizations approved to certify interpreters remain unchanged from the current regulations. A certified interpreter for hearings and depositions is defined as an individual listed on the State Personnel Board website or listed as a certified interpreter on California Courts website.

Meanwhile, a certified interpreter for medical treatment appointments and medical-legal evaluation must be listed in the above government websites and hold a valid Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) certification or a valid and current National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (National Board) certification if they are working in certain specified languages.

The regulation is also introducing a streamlined process for claiming payments, which includes detailed invoice information and billing codes. It also requires full documentation on the process of selection and arrangement of interpreters, especially if “alternative” interpreters were selected in the absence of a certified interpreter.



We are in receipt of the proposed interpreter fee schedule from the California Division of Workers’ Compensation which was released for public comment on April 4. On behalf of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT), which I serve as Chair of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to submit these comments.

As a national association, we are concerned whenever we see proposals with the potential to lower the quality of services provided by language professionals. Of course, our focus is on the populations that rely on quality language services for equitable access to the justice and healthcare systems. We have a number of concerns about the proposal which mirror those of the California Workers’ Compensation Interpreters Association (CWCIA). We are in full support of their recommendations for changes and urge you to consider all of them carefully.

We are particularly concerned that state and federal certification processes that assure that language professionals meet high standards for services to the public be supported and strengthened. California has an excellent certification process in place, but the proposal would undermine it in important ways.

There are two specific recommendations we would like to emphasize: 

  1. §9934. Requirements to Perform Interpreter Services at Medical Treatment Appointments and Medical-Legal Evaluations: (c) The medical provider shall determine if a proposed provisionally certified interpreter has sufficient skill to be provisionally certified to interpret in the required language. Even a cursory examination of this proposal shows how it undermines the principle of quality assurance through certification. The point of quality assurance is that clients (in this case medical providers) cannot, for a range of reasons, determine the level of skills held by language service providers. This is the very reason certification was created. 
  2. §9931 Selection and Arrangement for Presence of Interpreter. The proposals in this section are problematic because they would make it far too easy for both clients and language service providers to bypass the quality assurance process.  In a nutshell, provisional certification should be reserved only for those cases where certified interpreters are not available or there is no avenue for certification. The proposed rules would make it possible to use non-certified interpreters only when it is inconvenient to use a certified one, and that is too low a standard. It is very important to note that one of our concerns is that this proposal would incentivize interpreters to not seek certification. Given the financial incentive to use non-certified interpreters, we are concerned that more assignments would go to interpreters who do not make the considerable effort required to gain certification.

 I do not wish my focus on these provisions related to quality assurance to detract from the concerns expressed by CWCIA regarding working conditions and fair compensation for interpreters. We are fully supportive of their position on these issues.

Thank you very much for allowing us the opportunity to comment on the proposal. Please let us know if there is any way we can be of help during the next stages of the review process. 

Intersect Cross-Culturual Communications

Out of California comes bad news—a new fee structure for interpreters in workers’ compensation.
It’s not too late to make a difference. Send your comments today. The deadline is Friday, April 13, 5:00 p.m. PDT (8:00 EDT).
Do you want healthcare providers and hearing officers to decide who is qualified to interpret?

Do you think provisional (not-yet-certified) interpreters should get paid less than half what certified interpreters get? (Most languages have no certification. Many U.S. providers prefer less expensive interpreters to qualified ones.)
Do you think interpreters should be paid a one-hour minimum instead of a two-hour minimum?
If not (and there are many more concerns—take a look) then make your voice heard. Speak for the profession, even briefly. Take ten minutes today and comment!


CSIMS California Society of Industrial Medicine


CAAA California Applicant Attorney's Association

Jason Marcus, Esq., President, California Applicants’ Attorneys Association

The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association(“CAAA”) offers the following comments regarding the draft regulations for the Interpreter Fee Schedule which are currently posted on the DWC Forum.

§9930. Definitions.

Clarification is needed on “daytime” and “evening” hours in subdivision (f). We recommend the following revisions.

(f) “Half-day" means:

(1) When appearing during normal business hours, 8 am to 5 pm, at any hearing of the appeals board or an daytime arbitration, for all or any part of either a morning or afternoon session; or

(2) When appearing at a deposition, all or any part of 3.5 hours; or

(3) When appearing at an evening arbitration after 5 pm, all or any part of 3 hours.

§9931 Selection and Arrangement for Presence of Interpreter.

Proposed regulation §9931 (a) allows for the use of non-certified individuals to provide interpreting services. Non-certified individuals are not required to have training in interpreter ethical requirements or standards of practice, or education in either medical or legal terminology. Demanding that all interpreters be certified (in the 16 languages that are presently certified) is our only assurance that our client’s rights will be protected.

In subdivision (c) (1) the party producing the witness for the deposition should be responsible for providing the interpreter at a deposition consistent with Labor Code section 5811 (b) and 8 CCR section 10564.

The selection of the interpreter for an injured worker’s deposition is a very important issue. The interpreter sits in with the attorney and the injured worker during a privileged conversation preparing for the deposition.  Allowing the noticing party/insurance company to pick an interpreting agency that it has exclusive contracts with undermines confidence in the process and gives at least the appearance of impropriety.  The interpreter should be selected by the injured worker’s attorney at a deposition as the party producing the witness consistent with Labor Code section 5811(b).

Further, we recommend that subdivision (c) (2) be revised to delete “prior to signing” and add “for purposes of correction” to more accurately reflect the practice of deponents reviewing their deposition transcripts after a deposition.

We also recommend that “immediately” be deleted from (c) (2) as in some circumstances preparation for the deposition may need to take place the day before to accommodate an injured worker’s schedule.

Our recommended revisions are below.

(c) Depositions.

(1) The party noticing producing the witness for the deposition shall select and arrange for the presence of an interpreter.

(2) This subdivision shall include the preparation of the deponent immediately prior to the deposition, the reading of a deposition transcript to the deponent for purposes of correction prior to signing, and the reading of prior volumes of a deposition transcript in preparation for continuation of a deposition.

While we oppose the level of control by the employer set forth in §9931, we believe at the very least an injured worker should retain control of the selection of an interpreter at a deposition, including preparation time with their attorney.

Additionally, in subdivision (e) (3) and (4) when an injured worker must select an interpreter for a medical appointment from the MPN all interpreters should be individually listed by name in the MPN Provider list, and not just by the name of the company or service provider. For an injured worker who has multiple medical appointments they may want the same interpreter to accompany them to all appointments, and the individual listing by name will allow for this. Further, this will allow the injured worker to be able to check if the MPN interpreter selected is certified.

 Finally, nowhere in the proposed language in §9931 is there any assurance that all communications between the applicant and his or her attorney remain strictly confidential, despite the involvement of an interpreter. 

The regulations should explicitly state that the interpreter is required to protect the sanctity of the privilege by refusing to disclose, either directly or indirectly, any communications between the applicant’s attorney and the applicant, and shall not express any opinions, or impressions, that derive from those communications. These standards should be observed regardless of which party is responsible for selecting the interpreter.



Our letter to the DIR/DWC


We hope to reverse the current trend to replace certified interpreters with non-certified individuals by imploring the DIR to review its proposed definition of provisional interpreters and think twice about allowing a two-tiered fee schedule. Our immense appreciation to those sister associations who have joined us in this appeal by adding their signatures to the letter.

Read Opposition Letter


California Healthcare Interpreting Association

CWICA at CHIA Workshop April 30, 2016!
CWCIA Executive Secretary Maria Palacio and Membership Chair Lupe Manriquez, both attended last weekend’s CHIA Workshop on Interpreting in Workers’ Compensation expertly presented by Johanna Parker. The workshop was held in Downy and was very well attended.