The Iowa Division of Latino Affairs wants more Iowans to speak two languages. Latino Affairs Administrator John-Paul Chaisson-Cardenas says one barrier to newcomers is a lack of qualified interpreters to give them work instructions, legal counsel and other important information.One major initiative they’re working on this year is a system that would certify qualified interpreters. He points out any professional working with clients, from a mental-health counselor to a teacher or cop, needs one main tool — the ability to communicate effectively with people. But not just anyone has the skills in multiple languages to work as an interpreter, especially in specialized fields. Cardenas hopes lawmakers will pass a measure to set up state certification for the interpreters. He says it would NOT mean the state has to hire or pay translators. The group hopes to see a “market-based” interpreter system set up, where certified professionals would sell their services, a better system than having the state handle it, he says. The mission of the Division of Latino Affairs is to improve services to support both newcomers and long-established Latino communities, and ensure that Iowans know how many Hispanic and Spanish-speaking people are in the state and what they contribute.
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