Thursday, November 8, 2012

Proposed Best Practices for Simultaneous Interpreting in Non-Conference Settings

Many in the industry have been following recent developments in the Federal Immigration Courts. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) has decided to start using simultaneous interpreting during immigration court hearings. While this decision is certainly a step forward in increasing language access for the non and limited English-speaking persons involved in immigration proceedings, the move highlights a conundrum that many in our profession face: how to ensure proper working conditions for the interpreter when simultaneous is the required mode.

In response to concern that this innovation would not be accompanied by necessary changes in work policies and conditions in immigration courts, the interpreting profession has recently made a concerted and unprecedented unified effort to reach agreement on what does constitute "best practices" for simultaneous interpreting in non-conference settings.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters (NAJIT), in collaboration with eight national and international interpreter professional associations representing conference, legal, medical, and sign language interpreters, published a joint statement promoting best practices and proper work conditions for interpreters providing simultaneous interpretation in the immigration court system. You can see the full statement here:

Today, InterpretAmerica follows suit with our own statement on Best Practices for Simultaneous Interpreting in Non-Conference Settings. InterpretAmerica worked in tandem with NAJIT and the professional association collaborative, to ensure that our position is in full support of the consensus rapidly forming industry-wide.

In what we plan to be periodic statements on best practices on issues relevant to our profession, we share our Best Practices on Simultaneous Interpreting document with the field. It is our hope that this document, along with the effort of other key stakeholders in the field, will go a long way towards defining proper working conditions for interpreters in sectors where these guidelines are lacking or non-existent.

The Best Practices statement can be viewed here:

We look forward to your feedback!


  1. The role of an interpreter is rapidly growing within both the medical and the legal fields. Communication remains an important cornerstone within both of these fields. When individuals do not speak the same language or there is a communication barrier, such as hearing loss, the ability to establish effective communication can be compromised. This is where an interpreter or translator can prove to be invaluable. In the medical field, physicians and other health professionals may find it difficult to understand the precise problem a patient is experiencing if there is a communication barrier.


  2. thanks for sharing this useful article! i really liked it!

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  3. I haven't seen very many work condition interpreters around, but it sounds like a pretty common thing if they are having conferences. It would make sense that they would be needed in legal, medical and those types of environments. Simultaneous translation seems like a very employable skill set to have.

  4. Nice, All i know is while performing Simultaneous Interpreting, the interpreter sits in a booth wearing a pair of headphones and speaks into a microphone. Strictly speaking, "simultaneous" is a misnomer: the interpreter cannot start interpreting until he or she understands the general meaning of the sentence.

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