Professional Organizations For Interpreters And Translators: CHIA

This post continues a series of posts that shine the spotlight on professional organizations for interpreters and translators. In our last post, we talked about the benefits of joining a professional organization and highlighted one such organization – Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS). In today’s post, we picked another West Coast organization –  The California Healthcare Interpreting Association (CHIA). 


CHIA fact file


  • Originally named California Healthcare Interpreter’s Association, CHIA was founded in 1996. The name was changed to its current name – The California Healthcare Interpreting Association. This change reflected the fact that the focus of the organization is not just in interpreters, but the interpreting itself, as well as the well-being of LEP patients. 
  • CHIA currently has around 1500 members across the whole United States. 
  • In 2002, CHIA released Ethical Principles, Protocols, and Guidance on Roles & Interventions (a.k.a the CHIA Standards), the nationally recognized California Standards for Healthcare Interpreters which are written into the state’s legislation. The standards are an invaluable tool and are being used by interpreters across the United States. 
  • CHIA members include not only interpreters and translators, but also medical providers, members of healthcare administrations, and public health and language access advocates and activists. 
  • Member benefits include discounts for CHIA regional trainings, webinars and annual conferences as well as an opportunity to vote in board elections and volunteer in CHIA committees. 


An interview with current CHIA president, Tatiana Foerster 


CHIA is famous for its annual conference that brings interpreters from across the US and even other countries. What are some memorable moments from past CHIA conferences? 


Tatiana: In my opinion, the most memorable panel/keynote was last year when we had all CHIA past and present presidents at the same table. It was interesting to see a history of the organization and changes of the organization and profession through the eyes of its leaders. The 2020 conference was attended by about 500 participants who came from 20 US states and even from other countries such as Japan! 


What are CHIA’s plans for the 2021 conference? 


Tatiana: The 2021 annual conference is going to be virtual and take place on March 5 and 6. We will try to preserve the CHIA spirit and make it not only educational but also fun! For example, conference merchandise will be shipped to your door this year –  T-shirts, mugs and more! Online registration will open on February 5, 2021. The cost will be $150 for all activities on both days. We’ll be applying for CEUs from CCHI, IMIA/NBCMI, RID and WA-DSHS. 


What are some notable facts about CHIA? 


Tatiana: I would say that the most notable fact is the creation of CHIA standards that are used not only in California but nationwide. Also, CHIA has only one employee.  All Board members are volunteers! They participate in CHIA for the love of the organization and for the love of the profession.