Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Announce ASL Festival Denver 2006

From: ASL Festival - May 9, 2006

A Celebration of Language and Culture

Saturday, June 17th

Denver Performing Arts Complex

The American Sign Language Festival is an opportunity for the general public to become familiar with the culture of the group that uses this language. Another aspect of the Festival is a talent show and performances. Exhibit booths will offer information and resources about ASL.

We are pleased to invite your participation as an exhibitor for the ASL Festival,
now in its second year. This rather “uncommon” yet thoroughly engaging event will draw many to The Denver Performing Arts Complex to experience an amazing international array of the world’s most unique amphitheater performers.

ASL stands for American Sign Language and is the native language for approximately 500,000 individuals in the United States and Canada. But that doesn’t explain it well enough. One cannot tell by looking at a person if they use ASL. Many people mistakenly believe that American Sign Language is “English on the hands.” Some think it’s a manual version of English. Others believe that there is one universal sign language used by people around the world. These beliefs are simply not true.

ASL is comparable in its complexity and expressiveness to spoken languages. It is not a form of English. It has its own distinct grammatical structure, which must be mastered in the same way as the grammar of any other foreign language. ASL differs from spoken languages in that it is visual rather than auditory and it is composed of precise hand-shapes and movements. Important to understand is the fact that ASL is a complete language and can convey any idea: abstract, subtle, or complex. Many people mistakenly believe that ASL is only capable of expressing the most basic of ideas. Not true!

Maybe you have seen a sign language interpreter somewhere, and were curious about it... Maybe you know someone who can't hear and/or speak well... Maybe you want to learn a whole new way to express yourself...The American Sign Language Festival presents a unique opportunity for community involvement.

People who use ASL can be invisible in the community. Many people have misunderstandings about ASL users. “Signers don’t speak.” “Deaf people don’t enjoy music.” “ASL users are language impaired.” “Deaf people don’t drive.” But ASL users are the fastest growing language community in the U.S.! Want to know why? This festival gives sponsors a chance to interact with this vibrant community—and for ASL users to learn more about your business or organization. The ASL Festival will show you who we REALLY are—all the different people who use ASL!

www.aslfestival.com

When language is critical

By ABIGAIL LEICHMAN
STAFF WRITER


It's hard enough to explain medical terms and procedures in plain English. Try plain Spanish. Or Arabic, Russian or Korean.

This is the critical challenge North Jersey hospitals face as its population becomes increasingly diverse.

"Providing really good language interpretation is crucial to make a person feel comfortable and to educate them," said Michael Pietrowicz, an administrator at Englewood Hospital Medical Center. "It's a part of the healing process."

In addition to providing forms and educational materials in languages spoken by at least 10 percent of their patients, Englewood and many other hospitals maintain databases of the languages spoken by employees. As a backup, they subscribe to services that provide phone- or video-based live translators, 24/7.

"Some of our staffers are trained specifically as translators," said the Rev. Martin Rooney, director of mission services at St. Joseph's Regional Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson.

"We also have a Spanish-speaking chaplain, a Polish-speaking chaplain and full-time patient representatives who speak Arabic and Spanish."

But the subscription service often comes in handy. Recently, nurses used it to find translators for Hungarian and Vietnamese patients.

"It took just three or four minutes to get somebody on the phone who spoke the language," Rooney said.

At any given time, about 30 percent of the 792-bed hospital's patients are not English speakers. Some speak Indian or Asian dialects. Most prefer Spanish, and a growing number speak Arabic.

"Many of our nurses speak Spanish or Arabic, so any kind of education or orientation can be done by a bilingual nurse," said Pam Schaefer, nurse-manager for the labor and delivery unit. "A lot of the [medical] residents and midwives speak Arabic as well."

In the past, hospital personnel would ask patients' relatives to translate. That's no longer a reliable option since the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy laws went into effect.

"We need to be careful not to assume we can use family members to translate," said Rooney. "We always ask. And if they say yes, we allow it. But some patients don't want their family to know [the details of their condition]."

Outpatient and support programs must also be accessible to non-English speakers.

At Barnert Hospital in Paterson, nurse and Lamaze instructor Julie Melendez has taught classes for expectant and new mothers in Spanish since 1989.

Spanish childbirth classes are given at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, St. Mary's in Passaic and Englewood Hospital Medical Center. Englewood also offers Lamaze instruction in Korean and plans to add a Russian-language childbirth class soon.

Its Visiting Hearts program, which pairs former cardiac patients with people who've just had heart surgery, has Korean- and Spanish-speaking volunteers, said Pietrowicz.

The hospital's speaker's bureau includes physicians fluent in a variety of languages, and its diabetes educators have translated protocols and instructions into Korean.

A variety of health-care institutions are discovering that serving patients of other cultures involves much more than the spoken word.

Because most Arabic-speaking patients are Muslims, St. Joseph's has banned pork products from its menu and respects the wishes of female Muslims not to be touched by males.

Alameda Center for Rehabilitation and Care in Perth Amboy has dedicated units for Hispanic and Indian patients featuring culture-specific decor and cuisine, media services and religious and social activities. Staff members on these units all speak their language.

"We believe that being in a culturally adapted environment promotes physical and emotional well-being," said Sidney Greenberger, CEO of Garden State Healthcare Group, Alameda's parent company.

Food a key component

Just months after the Indian program was implemented last July, its director reported that Indian patients, many of whom hadn't liked the standard fare, all reached a healthy weight on their native cuisine and were generally happier.

Diet is emerging as a key component in caring for non-English-speaking patients.

Since 65 percent of the patients at Barnert's Women's Health Center are Latina, prenatal nutrition counseling is offered in Spanish.

"We see a very high percentage of Hispanic women with gestational diabetes and obesity," said Leny Lopez, a registered dietitian at the center.

Using a Spanish version of the Department of Agriculture food pyramid, Lopez teaches patients to balance their diet and avoid fried and sugary foods.

After they give birth, they may choose nutritious Latino entrees from the hospital menu, such as chicken breast adobo with coconut sauce.

Several other hospitals also have ethnic specialties available.

"The Korean community's cultural beliefs include serving seaweed or miso soups to moms who just gave birth, and we provide that," said Pietrowicz.

Your language spoken here

According to the 2000 census, 67 percent of the families in Bergen County speak English at home, while 10 percent speak Spanish and 4 percent speak Korean, said Richard Fitzpatrick of the Language Access Network, an Ohio-based company that provides video and audio translation services for health-care institutions.

"The country's largest proportion of Korean-speaking people is in Bergen County," Fitzpatrick said, "and there are 80 languages spoken in North Jersey homes. Italian, Polish, Tagalog, Russian, Chinese, Greek and Arabic are next in order of prevalence after English, Spanish and Korean."

Some U.S. hospitals, he said, have 20 or 30 interpreters on staff. About 18 percent of the population -- some 47 million people -- specifies a language other than English as its native tongue.

"If you have just a Spanish interpreter, that won't be enough to meet the needs of people coming into a health facility," Fitzpatrick said.

-- Abigail Leichman

Monday, May 15, 2006

Communication with offenders a top problem

By BOB SHERRILL
Herald Staff Writer

The effect of illegal immigrants from Mexico has created its share of problems for local law enforcement agencies, according to Sapulpa police.

However, the biggest problem is not major infractions of the law; it’s communication between the offender and police.

“Right now, and it’s not just in law enforcement, an English speaking person competent in speaking Spanish can write his own ticket,” said Police Capt. Jeff Gilliland.

He said the department is constantly looking for new officers with bilingual skills.

Under normal conditions, the department has relied on community volunteers to assist officers, but Gilliland said at the present time the department is in urgent need of more Spanish-speaking citizens to aid police.

“We have a list (of volunteers), but often times we just hate to wake them up in the early morning hours,” he said.

Most volunteers have their own job, and it is difficult for them to spend several hours at the department and then go to work later in the morning.

Patrol Sgt. Roger Norris said police contact with Mexican national centers around traffic violations for the most part.

“None of them have valid driver’s licenses, and we have to arrest them,” Norris said. And that’s where the work begins.

Gilliland said field interviews by patrol officers and the routine questioning of jail personnel during processing also suffers from the lack of Spanish-speaking interpreters.

While traffic infractions provide a majority of contacts with illegal immigrants, Sapulpa police officers have been forced to deal with a variety of crimes, including first-degree murder. Ramiro J. Rodriguez, 23, who said he entered the United States illegally, was arrested by police last year on charges he killed his 9-month-old son in a fit of rage.

The problem of communications does not stop at the police station. In processing minor infractions, Sapulpa municipal jail and municipal court workers say the defendants are usually out of jail within a few hours of their arrest.

“They all are given the opportunity to contact the Mexican Council. That’s the law,” said Robin Quinnelly, chief dispatcher with the Sapulpa Police Department.

Those whose offenses take the Mexican nationals into the judicial system are handled in a variety of ways depending upon the severity of the crime.

In municipal court, Sapulpa court workers say they advise the defendants to bring an interpreter with them when they come to court.

In district court, offenders accused of felony crimes are entitled to court appointed attorneys and court certified interpreters.

However, municipal authorities say their encounters with illegal immigrants center around traffic violations, and in most cases the offenders are booked in and booked out of jail in a short period of time.

Quinnelly said usually illegal immigrants make a phone call to a friend or a relative who comes to the municipal jail with cash to bail them out.

In April, police arrested Diana Medrano, 22, of Tulsa, who could not speak a word of English, Quinnelly said. Medrano was booked in at 9:42 a.m. April 24 and was released at 11:49 the same morning after her father ponied up $761 cash for her release.

Another unusual instance occurred on April 21 when two women were arrested at Wal-Mart after store security caught them attempting to leave without paying for $332 in baby formula.

The women told Patrolman Mark Swafford through an interpreter they had been in the United States only 15 days.

Swafford said Tania Bustamante, 22, and Arellano Gonzales told police they intended to ship the baby formula back to Mexico. Both were charged with shoplifting, which carried a $244 fine for each of them.

Records indicated both Gonzales and Bustamante were booked into the municipal jail at 11:33 a.m. and released at 6:37 p.m. the same day after a friend put up the $488 in cash.

Quinnelly said these cases are good examples of the majority of encounters between Sapulpa police and illegal immigrants.

How to interpret confidence breach

Q: Some time ago I was working as a court interpreter, translating what is said in court for the defendant and what the defendant says for the court. During a recess, the defendant confided that he did commit the crime and intended to take the stand and lie about it. I sought the advice of a colleague, who then informed the judge. As a result, I was chastised and lost my job. Was I wrong to divulge this information?

A: You were. Even if you made no explicit pledge of confidentiality, your role as an interpreter invites the defendant to confide in you, a relationship that does not terminate during a recess, out in the hall by the doughnut cart.

The connection you've cultivated -- emotionally, psychologically -- endures. Unless you cautioned the defendant that you might disclose what he said, you abused his trust and your position.

Robin G. Steinberg, executive director of the Bronx Defenders, a public defenders' organization in the Bronx (well, they would be), says of interpreters: "They become the only bridge between the attorney and the client. Those confidential communications can only occur with the interpreter, and those conversations are, indeed, confidential. There would be absolutely no way for a client to know that communications s/he makes just to the interpreter are subject to disclosure."

Steinberg is right. A defendant naturally sees you as a quasi member of his legal team, someone to whom he can speak freely. Moreover, his requiring an interpreter indicates that he has limited facility with English and so is isolated in the court setting, making him even more apt to be candid with someone who speaks his language.

What you could have done was speak to the defendant's lawyer.

Generally, in the United States, if a client baldly announces an intention to lie on the stand, his lawyer is ethically bound to prevent him. Here in New York State, if a lawyer is unable to do that, he or she may, but is not required to, speak to the judge.

While you acted badly, your colleague acted worse, imperiling the defendant and betraying your trust. I'm surprised that the judge spared him a sound thrashing, if that remedy is available under Seattle law.

Q: A marvelously astute and charming 93-year-old sold me a summer home on Cape Cod Bay at a reduced price with the condition that she could keep a portion of the condo until she died or could no longer negotiate the stairs. Now, five years later, she wants to install a stairway lift so that she can more easily get up and down. My partner and I have refused, feeling it is a violation of the original agreement. Were we right to do so?

A We can seldom be sure how we'll judge our own conduct in retrospect, but I'll go out on a limb and say that nobody ever reflected on his past and declared, "I'm darn proud of evicting that 98-year-old woman." That lift might be ugly, but some things are even uglier.

It may be that she has no legal right to make this demand, but the heart has rights of its own, and her 98 years allow her to appeal to kindness, to compassion, to generosity of spirit. There are times when contract law does not embody the highest aspirations of the human spirit.

In any case, the effect of this on you is bound to be minimal. It is a summer place, so for much of the year, she won't even be there. And after all, how many more summers will she be anywhere?

Legal system's plea for interpreters echoes across state

Monday, May 15, 2006
BY KATE COSCARELLI
Star-Ledger Staff
A typical day for Patti Firth, the lone full-time Spanish interpreter in Somerville's state Superior Court, can be described in a word: crazy.

She spent much of a recent morning -- between translating plea deals and divorces -- frantically working the phone outside a fifth-floor courtroom. She already had hired one freelance Spanish interpreter to cover the docket and now needed another for an emergent family case. Even as she dialed the phone, a public defender said she was needed on one more case.

"I need another interpreter desperately," she said into the receiver before dashing into an attorney conference room.

Interpreters have been used frequently for years in Essex, Hudson and Middlesex county courts. Now, however, that need is spreading as more Spanish-speakers settle in suburban and rural New Jersey.

The resulting demand for interpreters is just one way the changing demographics in places like Warren, Hunterdon, Somerset and Monmouth counties are challenging the legal structure.

"The lack of affordable or accessible legal services for this population is huge," said Maria Juega, chairwoman of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund in Princeton, which does not take cases. "There is really no help for them with many issues. The danger is they are very vulnerable to abuse by landlords, by businesses, by gangs -- anyone who wants to take advantage of a person in a weak position."

In Hunterdon County, court statistics show an interpreter was called 270 times in the past court year, compared with 30 about a decade ago. In Somerset County, there was a seven-fold increase in less than a decade. And in Monmouth County, there were 1,775 cases last year, compared with 322 in the 1996-97 court year.

To help meet demand, the state is currently recruiting a handful of full-time Spanish interpreters. Spanish interpreters are being hired for the first time in Burlington and the court's main office in Trenton, said Robert Joe Lee, of Language Services Section at the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Firth was hired full time last year, said Angela Pardo, the operations division manager for the vicinage that includes Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren courthouses. Already, officials are considering hiring a second interpreter, she said. And more requests are coming from the two other counties.

"We're growing by leaps and bounds," Pardo said.

INTERPRETIVE CONFIDENCE

By Randy Cohen
Sun May 14, 8:31 PM ET



Some time ago I was working as a court interpreter, translating what is said in court for the defendant and what the defendant says for the court. During a recess, the defendant confided that he did commit the crime and intended to take the stand and lie about it. I sought the advice of a colleague, who then informed the judge. As a result, I was chastised and lost my job. Was I wrong to divulge this information? -- E.N., Seattle

You were. Even if you made no explicit pledge of confidentiality, your role as an interpreter invites the defendant to confide in you, a relationship that does not terminate during a recess, out in the hall by the doughnut cart.

The connection you've cultivated -- emotionally, psychologically -- endures. Unless you cautioned the defendant that you might disclose what he said, you abused his trust and your position.

Robin G. Steinberg, executive director of the Bronx Defenders, a public defenders' organization in the Bronx (well, they would be), says of interpreters: "They become the only bridge between the attorney and the client. Those confidential communications can only occur with the interpreter, and those conversations are, indeed, confidential. There would be absolutely no way for a client to know that communications s/he makes just to the interpreter are subject to disclosure."

Steinberg is right. A defendant naturally sees you as a quasi member of his legal team, someone to whom he can speak freely. Moreover, his requiring an interpreter indicates that he has limited facility with English and so is isolated in the court setting, making him even more apt to be candid with someone who speaks his language.

What you could have done was speak to the defendant's lawyer.

Generally, in the United States, if a client baldly announces an intention to lie on the stand, his lawyer is ethically bound to prevent him. Here in New York State, if a lawyer is unable to do that, he or she may, but is not required to, speak to the judge.

While you acted badly, your colleague acted worse, imperiling the defendant and betraying your trust. I'm surprised that the judge spared him a sound thrashing, if that remedy is available under Seattle law.

A marvelously astute and charming 93-year-old sold me a summer home on Cape Cod Bay at a reduced price with the condition that she could keep a portion of the condo until she died or could no longer negotiate the stairs. Now, five years later, she wants to install a stairway lift so that she can more easily get up and down. My partner and I have refused, feeling it is a violation of the original agreement. Were we right to do so? -- Harvey Hauswirth, Provincetown, Mass.

We can seldom be sure how we'll judge our own conduct in retrospect, but I'll go out on a limb and say that nobody ever reflected on his past and declared, "I'm darn proud of evicting that 98-year-old woman." That lift might be ugly, but some things are even uglier.

It may be that she has no legal right to make this demand, but the heart has rights of its own, and her 98 years allow her to appeal to kindness, to compassion, to generosity of spirit. There are times when contract law does not embody the highest aspirations of the human spirit.

In any case, the effect of this on you is bound to be minimal. It is a summer place, so for much of the year, she won't even be there. And after all, how many more summers will she be anywhere?