Here are seven things to remember when booking an interpreter — from Sue at Executive Linguist Agency, a Workers’ Compensation translation agency that has been servicing California since 1978.
- Providing as much notice as possible for jobs allows time to accommodate special circumstances – such as requesting a specific interpreter.
- Know if a state or nationally certified interpreter is needed for the appointment. For example, medlegals, depositions and WCAB hearings require interpreters with different types of certification.
- Make sure you know the correct name of the language. Karen and Korean sound similar over the phone, for example. Chinese is the written language, but the spoken language can be one of hundreds of dialects, the most common being Mandarin and Cantonese. Some but not all Chinese interpreters speak both, so knowing the dialect is helpful. Be wary of Hispanic names; while the vast majority of these claimants speak Spanish, occasionally a Portuguese or Filipino dialect interpreter is needed. If someone needs a Filipino interpreter, ask which dialect the claimant speaks. Many Filipinos speak Tagalog, but not all.
- Give as much notice as possible of changes. Forgetting to tell the interpreter usually ends with double billing – for the original interpreter and the emergency interpreter for the rescheduling.
- Having the complete billing information, date, time, location and special requests ready when you call prevents follow-up phone calls and emails. Beware of doctors with multiple offices; ensure the claimant and interpreter are going to the correct address for the appointment.
- Checking if the interpreter needs to arrive early for paperwork or other preliminaries forestalls disruptive phone calls informing you the interpreter has not arrived and he was supposed to be there an hour early.
- Encouraging everyone involved in a case – examiners, assistants, paralegals, nurse case managers, investigators, etc. to update the file notes promptly and read them before ordering an interpreter prevents double bookings caused by different defense representatives calling different interpreting services for the same appointment.