Language Service Terms and Acronyms Defined

Recently, there have been a lot of questions in the field surrounding terms and acronyms floating out there in the language service industry. Time for a review.

Translation vs. Interpretation

Both translators and interpreters work with languages with the end goal of providing meaningful communication. The difference between translation and interpretation lies in the medium. Translators work with written words while interpreters work with spoken words. While there is a clear division in the work at play, the two terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably.


Individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English are considered limited English proficient. As required by the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as Section 1557, LEP individuals must be provided language services at no cost to them.


Hard of hearing refers to individuals who may only hear specific frequencies or sounds within a certain volume range. Usually hard of hearing individuals rely on spoken or written language and may use sign language as supplementary support.


This is a past term that refers to our first generation software. Although some of our customers still use the word to refer to our Stratus Video Interpreting app, our current platform outperforms it in leaps and bounds.


Video remote interpreting utilizes videoconferencing technology to provide the services of a qualified video interpreter to LEP, Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.


Video relay service allows Deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired individuals to communicate over video telephones with one another and/or hearing people in real time.


Over-the-phone interpretation provides the services of a qualified telephonic interpreter to LEP individuals in a different location over the telephone.

Qualified vs. Certified

The American Translators Association (ATA) differentiates qualified vs. certified with respect to interpreters as follows: a certified interpreter is an interpreter who is certified as competent by a professional organization or government entity through rigorous testing. A qualified interpreter is an individual who has been assessed for professional skills, demonstrates a high level of proficiency in at least two languages and has the appropriate training and experience to interpret with skill and accuracy while adhering to the National Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice published by the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care. 

Note that some language combinations do not offer certification in the United States. The ATA only offers certification for 16 languages. Many times, the interpreter has the training and experience to be considered qualified and therefore does not need to provide proof of certification.

Stratus Video provides high quality language services, bringing meaningful access to patients and providers via video remote interpreting, over-the-phone interpreting and on-site interpreting. Click here to learn more about our language services.

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