5th Annual Ramp UP℠ the Conversation Interpreter and ISP Conference  

April 28, 2018 at the Viterbo University, La Crosse, Wisconsin

Fine Arts Center: 929 Jackson Street, La Crosse, WI 54601 CAMPUS MAP

 Keynote Presentation: 

Community Interpreting at a Turning Point: Big Questions Facing the Profession

(Language neutral)

Abstract: 1.5 hours

The interpreting professions in healthcare and legal settings in the United States are approaching a critical juncture. Relatively low fees, irregular job security, a lack of social prestige, few training opportunities, unavailability of certification exams in most language pairs, and difficult access for interpreters of languages of limited diffusion continue to represent challenges. While many of these problems are universal, this presentation aims to critically examine some of the “big questions” facing our profession and aims to look at international training, testing and professionalization models as a possible source of inspiration. This presentation aims to be fully interactive, fomenting an active dialog between practitioners, trainers, and LSPs. As stakeholders, we will vigorously examine questions such as:

  • How can we rethink training, education and accreditation for interpreters in the United States? What can we learn from other models and how can we do things differently?
  • What is the most valid and reliable way to accredit someone’s interpreting skills? What are the alternatives to only using performance-based testing?
  • Does TI studies belong on a vocational track or in the university? Should a university degree be required for certification? What are the risks? Are they worth it?
  • How about multiple pathways to accreditation? Can our current systems accommodate change?
  • What are the characteristics of a profession, and are we there yet?
  • Can we reach consensus about identifying our most urgent priorities? What work needs to be done?

Learning outcomes:

  1. Understand the difference between performance-based and competency-based accreditation for interpreters;
  2. Be able to compare and contrast US court and healthcare certification models with those of other countries, and be able to identify alternative ways of training and testing interpreters;
  3. Identify the characteristics of a profession versus a para-profession in accordance with Trait Theory; and
  4. Identify priorities for professionalization.

MelissaWallaceKeynote Presenter Melissa Wallace, PhD, CHI™

University of Texas at San Antonio

Melissa Wallace received her Ph.D. in translation and interpreting studies from the Universidad de Alicante, Spain.  A certified court interpreter and certified healthcare interpreter, Wallace is currently serving a 5-year term on the Licensed Court Interpreter Advisory Board of the Judicial Branch Certification Commission for the Supreme Court of Texas. She is an active member of the Home for Trainers Webinars Work Group at the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, and is a board member of the Society for the Study of Translation and Interpretation (SSTI), the non-profit educational and research foundation of the National Association of Judicial Interpreters and Translators. Her research focuses on indicators of aptitude on court interpreter certification exams, accreditation exam models, and interpreter and translator training. Wallace carried out research on court interpreting certification models in Finland in 2016 as the Fulbright-University of Tampere Scholar. She is an Assistant Professor of TI Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio where she directs the graduate certificate program in translation and interpreting studies. 


At Full Speed: Addressing the Challenges to Interpreters of Excessive Rates of Speech Delivery

(Language neutral)

Abstract:  1.5 hours

One of the most challenging issues that interpreters frequently encounter is the high rate of source language delivery. Excessively high rates of speech delivery further impede accurate simultaneous interpretation into the target language. Multiple strategies exist for managing less than ideal interpreting scenarios. Strategies can range from direct request for more moderate speech delivery mid-session to indirect management of the encounter by the interpreter. Most interpreters use multiple strategies to address high rate of source language delivery, frequently adjusting and modifying their strategies depending on each unique interpreting situation.

In this presentation we will explore the following questions: How fast do people typically speak? How do context and purpose affect speech delivery? At what point does high speed in speech delivery threaten accuracy of interpretation? Which are the most useful strategies that interpreters can use to manage situations where excessive speed affects the quality of interpretation?

Learning outcomes:

  1. Have fact-based understanding of the role of speed in speech delivery and comprehension.
  2. Know how to respond in professional situations when excessive speed affects interpretation.
  3. Explore and practice some of the most effective strategies for dealing with excessively high rates of speech delivery.


Connecting Undergraduate Research with Practitioners and the Community Agencies

(Language neutral)

Abstract:  1 hour

In this presentation, Michelle Pinzl, assistant professor of interpreting studies at Viterbo University, together with the student research team, will explain the action research that they have carried out in the community this year. Students minoring in interpreting studies are required to complete a Course-embedded Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) with the objective of contributing to the body of research on interpreting and language access in their immediate community. This experience underscores the importance of data-driven research in interpreting practices as students interact with community members about the state of the field, and carry out a consequent research project. Having analyzed their data, students draw preliminary conclusions about language access practices and concerns in their local community and have the opportunity to share these findings with current practitioners working in the area.

We expect that CURE initiatives in the interpreting classroom encourage current students to become informed interpreting professionals as well as future researchers in the field. In addition, we hope that it will inspire more similar research studies across the region by currently practicing interpreters and/or language service providers so as to continue to improve language access in the Midwest.

Learning outcomes:

Following this presentation, students will lead small groups in discussions about ethical practices and dilemmas currently occurring in the field. Students will take the recurring questions and doubt that they have struggled with over the course of the year to practitioners in the field, for a collaborative and interactive session. At the end of this session, potential solutions to the dilemmas presented will be compiled for distribution to participants in the weeks following the Ramp Up Conference.

professional_pic-002Presenter:  Michelle Pinzl

Michelle Pinzl is the Coordinator of the Community Interpreting Certificate and Assistant Professor at Viterbo University where she teaches Spanish, French and Interpreting Studies. She earned her Master’s degree in Foreign Languages and Intercultural Management from the Université de Limoges in France and has been interpreting in the medical field since 2005, now working at Mayo Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She is certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) since 2014 and proctors CHI oral exams. Michelle also interprets for social service agencies, schools, businesses, as well as various sectors of the farming industry in Wisconsin.


Nonverbal Cues in Intercultural Communication

Abstract: 2 hours

Develop skills for placing the culture of the client first – working toward personal cultural neutrality while increasing responsiveness to the nonverbal cultural cues of others. Learn to identify your personal cultural framework and its effect on professional interactions. Begin to make a shift from communications expert to objective conduit.

Workshop includes three elements: group session to create shared language and understanding of cross-cultural nonverbal communication; interactive training in recognition and integration of non-verbal cues within cultural context; small group dialog and scenario work.


Workshop participants  leave  with  tactical  guides  supported  by their  newly-developed  understanding  of  the  impact  of  nonverbal communication  on professional interactions. Most significantly, participants feel connected to their own cultural framework and how it manifests in nonverbal ways.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants will be able to identify universal biological reactions and nonverbal cues that are learned behavior.
  • Participants will develop an understanding of nonverbal cues within cultural frameworks.
  • Participants will leave with a greater level of awareness of how nonverbal language impacts exchanges.
  • Participants will take with them tactics incorporating nonverbal cues into their work as interpreters.




Kate Silsz

Kate holds a BS in Sociology and Communication Studies from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and an MA in Applied Sociology from Illinois State University. She has extensive cross-cultural experience, including two years with the Peace Corps in Botswana, a summer internship in Tanzania, and study abroad experiences in India, Ireland, and Spain. Her work experience includes facilitating the GALAXY program for LGBTQ youth in La Crosse and serving as a Hate Response Liaison for the University of Wisconsin.


Jyoti Grewal

Jyoti Grewal

Jyoti holds a BA and an MA in history from Delhi University and a Ph.D. in history from Stony Brook University in New York. She served as the Dean of University College at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates from 2009 – 2017 and prior to that chaired their Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. She also taught history at Luther College for six years. Her curriculum vitae includes numerous publications, peer-reviewed presentations, and keynote addresses. She is fluent in English, Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi and also speaks Bengali and Nepali.


Conference Schedule – April 28, 2018 (Schedule subject to change)


La Crosse, WI – Viterbo University

9:00-9:25 Check inCoffee and tea available
9:25-9:30 WelcomeShawna Stevenoski
9:30 – 11:00 Keynote presentation Community Interpreting at a Turning Point: Big Questions Facing the Profession (1.5 CEU – Ethics)Dr. Melissa Wallace
11:00 -11:15 Break
11:15 – 12:45 At Full Speed: Addressing the Challenges to Interpreters of Excessive Rates of Speech Delivery (1.5 CEU)Presenter Team
12:45 – 1:15 Lunch – included
1:15 – 2:15 Connecting Undergraduate Research with Practitioners and the Community Agencies (1.0 CEU)Michelle Pinzl and Viterbo University Students
2:15 – 2:30 Break and networking
2:30 – 4:30 Nonverbal Cues in Intercultural Communication (2.0 CEU)Jyoti Grewal and Kate Slisz
4:30 – 4:45 Closing remarks(Attendance certificate and CEUs provided)