By Holly Mikkelson, MA, CT, FCCI
Slides are linked here.
On October 23, 2020, I gave a presentation at the first-ever virtual conference held by the ATA. Despite all the technological challenges of coordinating sessions and giving access to participants scattered all over the world, the conference was a great success. My session was delivered on the second day of the main conference, so by then participants had figured out how to access the workshops they wanted and we were able to start right on time. One drawback to the platform used for the virtual conference was that participants couldn’t see each other’s entries in the chat box, so answering questions was a little more cumbersome than usual. I had to read the questions aloud before answering them, most of which was done after the main presentation rather than piecemeal as they came up. Dozens of participants tuned in, some with more experience than others. I recognized some names of veteran Spanish interpreters, but there were lots of interpreters of other languages as well, some of them new to deposition interpreting.
The session began with a definition of terms, to make sure everyone knew what a deposition is and the circumstances under which one becomes necessary during discovery. Then I discussed the main features of workers’ compensation law, which is governed by state law but with many requirements imposed by federal statutes, meaning that it doesn’t vary from state to state as much as other areas of the law. Then we went on to review the procedure followed in a typical deposition in a workers’ compensation case (though other types of cases involve very similar steps), from the attorney-client preparation through the swearing-in and the preliminary instructions, culminating in the testimony itself. The issue of consecutive vs. simultaneous interpreting and the impact of remote interpreting was also discussed. At the end of the session I read a typical deposing counsel’s instructions to the deponent to give participants a chance to practice interpreting simultaneously, though of course I was unable to provide any feedback on their interpretation.
Questions at the end of the session ranged from ethics (a constant in any gathering of court interpreters) to team interpreting to marketing tips. I haven’t received the evaluations from the ATA yet, but I believe the session was well received. I think everyone agrees that, although the virtual conference was very fruitful, it is always preferable to meet in person. I hope next year’s conference allows face-to-face interactions!
About the author: Holly Mikkelson, CT is professor emerita of translation and interpreting at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. She is a federally certified court interpreter and ATA-certified translator (Spanish to/from English) with four decades of professional experience. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world. She has written many articles and books on various aspects of interpreting, and is the author of the acclaimed Acebo training manuals for court and medical interpreters.