August 2001

Important Information Regarding
WCB Interpreter Appointment Process

          The Board’s new rules regarding interpreters, OAR 438-020-0001 through 0020, went into effect on July 1, 2001. These rules implement a law passed by the 1999 Legislature which became effective on July 1, 2001 and which requires the Board to appoint a qualified interpreter when interpreter services are necessary for a hearing. The rules contain a provision for notifying the agency when a party/party’s attorney determines that an interpreter is needed (see OAR 438-020-0010).

          Since the new rules went into effect we have had some problems receiving adequate notice of the need for an interpreter. For example, on one occasion in early July the notice of the need for an interpreter was communicated to the Hearings Division only a few days before the hearing date; on two other occasions the notice was communicated the day before the hearing date. Unless the need for an interpreter does not become evident until closer in time to the hearing date, the Board’s Interpreter Services Coordinator (ISC) needs at least 30 days advance notice of the need for an interpreter. This allows the ISC sufficient time to contact an interpreter on the Board’s contract list, obtain a response from the interpreter (sometimes the ISC will have to go through this process more than once if the first interpreter contacted is unavailable on the hearing date), and then notify the parties/representatives of the identity of the appointed interpreter. This also allows time for the parties, pursuant to OAR 438-020-0010(3), to advise the Hearings Division of an objection to the appointed interpreter. Finally, the more advance notice the ISC has about the need for an interpreter, the greater the likelihood the ISC will be able to appoint a certified interpreter from the Board’s contract list. There is a shortage of certified interpreters (as distinct from qualified interpreters) and it is difficult to obtain the services of a certified interpreter on short notice.

          In sum, we ask for your cooperation in giving the ISC at least 30 days advance notice of the need for an interpreter, if at all possible. This will improve our ability to appoint a certified, or at least qualified, interpreter in time for the hearing and avoid the necessity of postponing the hearing because no interpreter is available. If, at the time the request for hearing is filed, you know an interpreter is going to be needed, please put this information on the request for hearing form and highlight it. Also, when you contact the Hearings Division regarding the need for an interpreter, please be specific about your interpreter needs: for example, the language and dialect, the need for multiple interpreters, and the anticipated length of the hearing if it is reasonably expected to last more than two hours. See OAR 438-020-0010(1)(f).

          Finally, practitioners are asked to make sure that their legal assistants/secretaries are aware of the new rules and the importance of timely advising the Hearings Division of the need for an interpreter and timely advising the Hearings Division when it is determined that interpreter services are no longer needed. See OAR 438-020-0020.

          Thank you for your cooperation in helping us make this new interpreter appointment process work as efficiently as possible.