COVID-19 has exposed a long-standing issue within the U.S. healthcare system: lack of access to language services for people with limited English proficiency (LEP). As hospitals struggled to manage rising caseloads, LEP patients risked missing out on life saving care due to language barriers. Yet the shortage of medical interpreters and translators began well before the pandemic.


According to a 2016 survey by the American Hospital Association, only 56% of hospitals offered linguistic and translation services—up from 54% in 2011. To put this into perspective, a 2010 study found that 97% of doctors have non-English speaking patients. That gap between patients’ needs and the availability of language services can prevent them from receiving appropriate treatments or even seeking care at all.


Federal Funding and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act


However, the need for medical interpreters and translators is well known among healthcare professionals. Organizations that receive financial assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must provide access to language services under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Recipients of this assistance include:


  • Healthcare providers that participate in CHIP and Medicaid programs
  • Hospitals and nursing homes (recipients under Medicare Part A)
  • Medicare Advantage plans (e.g. HMOs and PPOs)
  • Human or social service agencies
  • Insurers that participate in Marketplaces and receive premium tax credits


So, why do so many healthcare organizations fall short? The answer lies in insurance reimbursement.


Interpreting Services and Healthcare Reimbursement


Despite federal assistance, few insurers directly reimburse for interpreter services. Aside from some Medicaid plans, healthcare providers typically pay the costs—ranging from $30 to $400 per patient. Meanwhile, Medicaid programs pay only $30 to $50 per patient, which means providers often lose money by treating LEP patients. Unsurprisingly, 25% of clinicians considered interpreting costs a barrier to care. And as revenue falls due to COVID-19, more providers may consider cutting interpretation services as a cost-saving measure.


Telehealth and More Affordable Interpreting


Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad. Due to the pandemic, the HHS has expanded access to telehealth to keep patients and healthcare professionals safe. Using a platform like BoostCare Telehealth, healthcare providers can connect with remote medical interpreters who charge lower rates than onsite interpreters.


Our video remote and over-the-phone (OTP) interpreting options give you access to interpreters who speak over 200 languages within minutes—without the travel expenses. You can easily treat patients via telehealth or onsite without waiting for an interpreter to arrive. All you need is internet access and a mobile device or computer with a webcam.


Think BoostCare Telehealth may be right for your practice? Contact us today to start your free trial!



Anthropologist and linguist Edward Sapir wrote in 1929 that, “In the state of California alone, there are greater and more numerous linguistics extremes than can be illustrated in all the length and breadth of Europe.” You could even narrow that down to Northern California—or just San Francisco, where 112 languages are spoken. And while each of these languages has a unique history and culture, let’s take a look at the five most widely spoken ones in NorCal.


  1. Spanish


It should come as no surprise that Spanish takes the number one spot. With over 10.6 million speakers state-wide[i], 28.5% of the Golden State’s population communicates in Spanish. In Northern California, the agricultural countries of the San Joaquin Valley and the San Fernando Valley are home to the majority[ii].


  1. Chinese (Including Cantonese and Mandarin)


Chinese speakers make up 2.8% of the state’s population, with over 1.2 million speakers state-wide.1 Most Chinese speaking NorCal residents live in the Bay area—primarily in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.2


  1. Tagalog


An estimated 2.2% of California residents speak Tagalog, a language native to the Philippines. The majority of the roughly 796,000 speakers live in Southern California, but the San Francisco Bay area also boasts a thriving community.2


  1. Vietnamese


Did you know San Jose is home to the largest percentage of Vietnamese speakers outside of Vietnam? With around 559,000 residents, Vietnamese speakers make up 1.43% of California’s population, most of whom live in Northern California.2


  1. Korean


Korean rounds out the top 5 languages with around 368,000 speakers state-wide. Korean speakers make up about 1.08% of California’s population. The largest communities are in Orange and Los Angeles counties, but about 1.3% of San Jose residents and 1.1% of San Francisco residents identify as Korean.[iii]


Honorable Mention


Persian, Japanese, Russian, and Armenian round out the top 10 most commonly spoken languages (along with English) in NorCal. The first three are primarily spoken in the Bay area, while Fresno is home to a large Armenian community.


A Note on Native American Languages

Although the state’s pre-colonial indigenous communities spoke over 80 different languages, the vast majority are now either extinct or severely endangered. Languages such as Karuk, Hupa, and Yurok, which were once common in Northern California, now only have about a dozen speakers.[iv] Chukchansi and Luiseño are also native to the region, and languages from larger groupings such as Athabascan, Algic, and Uto-Aztecan are spoken in small numbers. The San Francisco area has a small number of Navajo speakers as well.


Yet despite the shrinking number of speakers, organizations such as Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival are working to keep these languages alive through education and community building.


Language Support from Boostlingo


As you can see, Northern California’s linguistic diversity spans across urban, suburban, and rural areas of the region. While each of these communities add to the state’s unique culture, language differences can also pose barriers to communication.


Fortunately, Boostlingo makes it easy to access interpreters for over 200 languages. Our interpretation platform let’s you schedule an onsite interpreter or connect with an over-the-phone or video remote interpreter in minutes.


Want to learn more about how Boostlingo works? Start your free trial today!








911 interpreters

If you or a loved one has ever had a medical emergency, your first reaction was likely to dial 911. Now imagine you didn’t speak English. What would happen then? Ideally, the operator would quickly connect you with a 911 interpreter.


These specialized medical interpreters must remain calm in even the most stressful situations. In this blog post, we shine the spotlight on these sometimes-forgotten interpreters and the vital work they do.


What It Takes to Become a Boostlingo 911 Interpreter


First things first. Medical interpreters who join the Boostlingo Professional Interpreters Network (BPIN) are not employees, but are independent contractors. Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t require them to meet strict requirements before accepting emergency assignments.


Below is a partial list of our medical interpreter requirements:


  • A minimum of 60 hours of medical interpreter training.
  • A minimum of 3 years of medical interpreting experience.
  • Completion of required CEUs.
  • Evidence of current HIPAA compliance (must be updated every 2 years).


Given the sensitive nature of emergency calls, we also ask our interpreters to follow a strict code of ethics for the calling environment. It must comply with HIPAA regulations for security and privacy, i.e. no answering calls in public places or in a room where others are present.


How 911 Interpreting Works


When someone places an emergency call, it’s routed to the requested language and type. An interpreter will answer the call with the greeting, “Hello, my name is NAME and my ID number is NUMBER and I am your language interpreter. How may I help you?”


All interpreters who accept these calls are prepared to take them.


Meet Our BPIN Interpreters


The 911 interpreters who join our network have varied backgrounds, but all of them are well trained and meet requirements above. Here’s a brief introduction for just two of them:


Andrea Lane, a Portuguese-English interpreter based in San Diego has a degree in nutrition and previously worked in a hospital. Now, she not only interpreters 911 calls, but provides legal interpreting for government agencies and immigration.


Andres Wallace, a Spanish-English interpreter based in Costa Rica, studied translation before becoming a medical interpreter. Throughout his seven years of experience, he’s taken 911 calls due to domestic violence, stabbings, shootings, and motor vehicle accidents.



During our interview, he recalled a harrowing incident that involved a collision with a heavy motor vehicle. A passenger had fallen unconscious, and Andres had to walk the driver through removing the passenger, ensuring they were still breathing, and interpreting for the EMTs.


Both interpreters emphasized the importance of remaining calm and adhering to the code of ethics they’ve sworn to follow, regardless of the scenario.


Partnering with Boostlingo


As you can see, our 911 interpreters undergo a rigorous training process, and must sometimes interpret during life or death situations. Because of this, our BPIN interpreters are some of the best in the industry.


Want to learn more about how Boostlingo can assist your emergency call center? Contact us today!


Voice Interpreters

Interpreters, along with professionals such as teachers, singers, and call center operators work with their voices which means that an interpreter’s voice is their most important instrument, and, like any other tool of the trade, should be maintained and protected. In this article, we’ll look at some ways of protecting our voice – from keeping hydrated to learning breathing techniques. 


Don’t whisper… 

Chuchotage, also known as whispered simultaneous interpreting, involves performing simultaneous interpretation in a quiet voice while sitting or standing next to the party or parties one is interpreting for. Despite what the name implies, you are not actually supposed to whisper. According to one research study, for some people, whispering may be overworking your larynx. One of the reasons for this is that people often strain their voice while whispering and trying to be heard, which may be as taxing on your voice as shouting! 


… and don’t scream 

Speaking of shouting, speaking in a loud voice, such as when you are trying to speak over a loud voice or project your voice when speaking at a public event, can put a strain on your vocal cords. If you need to be heard by many people at once, consider using a microphone. If you are speaking on the phone or in a video meeting, find a good headset which allows you to be heard without straining your voice. 


Take regular breaks 

If you spend most of the day speaking, take a vocal nap – that is, take intentional breaks from using your voice and allow it to rest for a short period of time. When your voice is hoarse due to a cold or overuse, avoid speaking to allow your voice to recover. And iIn addition to resting your voice by avoiding speaking and singing, remember to rest your whole body – overall fatigue can also adversely affect your voice


Don’t get dry 

Staying hydrated is always a good idea – and having a good water balance is also a good way to take care of your vocal cords. In addition, consider placing a humidifier in your home and/or office. Having a humidifier can be especially helpful as we head into colder months, when heating can make the inside air particularly dry. Humidifying the air can help prevent things like having a dry mouth and needing to cough or clear your throat, which can be stressful for your vocal cords. 


Support your voice with breathing 

Taking a leaf out of singers’ books and learning breathing exercises and proper breathing techniques can help interpreters have more control over their voice. This can be especially helpful now, when many of us are straining to be heard through masks and at a distance of 6 feet. This article goes over some basic vocal techniques and voice control methods, while this video shows some easy exercises for beginners – give it a try! 


We hope these tips will help your voice stay in top shape so that you can keep doing what you love! 


video remote interpreting

Navigating the 2020 election season is a challenge. From extended registration deadlines to early voting to mail-in options, it’s hard to keep up with the changes due to COVID-19. That’s why we’re extending our video remote interpreting (VRI) hours to ensure voters have access to the information they need—regardless of their language.


Why Interpreters Matter  


Interpreters help make voting accessible. Limited English Proficiency (LEP) speakers and deaf individuals who use American Sign Language (ASL) rely on interpreters to assist them with the process. Below are just three reasons why someone may need an interpreter:


Voter Registration


Voter registration rules vary by state. The way you register, the documents you need, and the deadlines all depend on where you live. These rules can be confusing for U.S. natives, but pose an ever hurdle for immigrants who are eligible to vote. Someone from a country with a different system may need an interpreter to walk them through the process. And don’t forget about deaf and voters who rely on ASL and may need assistance.




While ballots are typically translated into multiple languages, it isn’t always enough. People often have questions about what’s on the ballot. Voting on a proposition or an amendment may be new for LEP voters, and they may need an interpreter to explain that portion.


Older voters and those with vision problems may struggle to read what’s on it and need someone to read it to them. Other voters may have limited reading skills. While others still may not even get a ballot in their native language. An interpreter can help by walking them through what’s on it.




Like voter registration, the way you vote depends on where you live. Some states rely on electronic voting machines while others use paper ballots. Since ballots must be filled out and submitted properly, voters may need help following the instructions. Interpreters can help LEP and deaf voters by relaying those instructions and answering any questions they have.


The Advantage of VRI


While onsite interpreting is often the best option, VRI has its advantages. Firstly, it allows for social distancing. Voters who need assistance can access an interpreter without putting themselves—or the interpreter at risk for COVID. Secondly, interpreters are available on request for many languages. While some districts hire interpreters in advance, that isn’t the case everywhere. And finally, voters who speak a less common language can access an interpreter regardless of where they live. An LEP voter who lives in a small town or rural area won’t need to wait for an interpreter who lives several hours away.


Requesting an Interpreter


Fortunately, the Boostlingo platform makes it easy to connect with an interpreter via remote video. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or mobile device with a webcam to get started. Our Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network (BPIN) supports over 200 languages—many of which are available on-demand. For a complete list as of October 2020, click here.


Want to learn more about how Boostlingo can help out this election season? Contact us today!


Sign Language Interpreters

The California State Senate and Assembly passed AB 2257 to include exemptions for translators, interpreters, and dozens of other professionals under the AB 5 “gig workers” bill. People in exempt occupations can now classify themselves as self-employed as long as they qualify under the pre-AB 5 standards. Although this is great news for most, it’s nothing to celebrate for many sign language interpreters.


Why AB 2257 Fails Sign Language Interpreters 


AB 2257 only recognizes one organization for sign language certification, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). By limiting certification options, the bill disproportionately affects interpreters who are Deaf and/or Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). Below are just three reasons why the bill should be amended to be more inclusive.


Firstly, the current membership of the Maryland-based RID doesn’t reflect California’s diversity, as:


  • Only 4% of members are Deaf.
  • Less than 15% identify as BIPOC.
  • Less than 13% are native ASL signers (people who grew up with Deaf parents).


Secondly, certification through RID is unaffordable for many. Total fees for certification exams and retakes can cost over $1,000. This creates financial barriers for BIPOC and Deaf interpreters in a state that already has an interpreter shortage.


Thirdly, only 14 interpreters received RID certification in California and 20 received it for the 9-state western region in the past 18 months. With just over 1,000 RID- interpreters in the state, they can’t meet the need for interpreting services in schools, hospitals, courts, and other organizations. Limiting certification will create an even greater shortage.


Amending AB 2257 for Sign Language Interpreters


The Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and California Association of the Deaf (CAD) have asked the Assembly to avoid naming a specific organization. They recommend that “Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) be replaced with: “Any local, state or national entity officially recognized to evaluate and determine qualified sign language interpreters.”


This definition also aligns with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which uses the terminology “qualified” interpreters. Under the ADA, qualified interpreter is defined as: able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively (i.e., understanding what the person with the disability is saying) and expressively (i.e., having the skill needed to convey information back to that person) using any necessary specialized vocabulary.


Representatives from these organizations plan to return to the 2021 legislative session to request these changes be made with Governor Newsom and the California Legislature’s support. We will keep you updated as the story unfolds.


Thanks to video remote interpreting (VRI), individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can access a sign language interpreter regardless of their location. However, this technology poses an important question. Does VRI comply with the requirements established under the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) act? The short answer is: it depends.


What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?


The ADA is a U.S. civil rights law that prohibitions discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. That includes jobs, schools, medical facilities, transportation, and all establishments that are open to the general public.


Under the ADA, many organizations are required to provide access to an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter when a deaf individual needs one to communicate. However, an ASL interpreter may not always be available to come onsite. And while VRI may seem to be the perfect solution, this isn’t always the case.


What Are the ADA Requirements for VRI?


For VRI to be considered ADA-compliant, it must meet certain requirements. These include:


  • Providing real-time, full-motion video and audio over a dedicated high-speed, wide-bandwidth video connection or wireless connection.
  • Delivering high-quality video images that don’t produce lags, choppy, blurry, or grainy images, or irregular pauses in communication.
  • Providing sharply delineated images that are large enough to display the interpreter’s face, arms, hands, and fingers as well as the individuals face, arms, hands, and fingers—regardless of their body position.
  • Providing a clear, audible transmission of voices.


Yet despite these requirements, many deaf individuals still face technical and communication issues when it comes to VRI. In some cases, it has even impacted their ability to receive appropriate medical care.


Best Practices for ASL Interpreting via Video Remote


Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to minimize these issues. Recommendations from the National Association of the Deaf include, but aren’t limited to:


  • Connecting to a dedicated high-speed, wide-bandwidth connection.
  • Using a flat-panel LCD monitor with a minimum screen size of 19.5 inches.
  • Using devices with cameras that provide a minimum video resolution of 720p. (The ideal resolution is 1080p60.)
  • Testing your microphone beforehand and using noise canceling features.
  • Placing the video screen no further than two feet from the person who needs an interpreter.

Don’t forget to check in with the person periodically, either. To ensure he or she feels comfortable using VRI, you may need to make adjustments to the video screen or the environment.


How Boostlingo Can Help


Now that you know how to meet the ADA-requirements, you may be wondering how to find a remote ASL interpreter when you need one. Using our VRI platform, you can connect with someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All you need is an internet connection and a device with a webcam to get started.


For more information about video remote interpreting for ASL, contact Boostlingo today!

Medical Interpreting

Accuracy is often one of the first cannons in interpreters’ codes of ethics, and there is a good reason for it: in order to trust the interpreter, both parties have to know that their message will be rendered faithfully.  On the face of it, this makes absolute sense – all you have to do is interpret everything you hear exactly as it’s being said. However, in practice, interpreting is fraught with challenges – including those that may affect accuracy. To help with this, we have prepared a helpful list of tips on ensuring accuracy in medical interpreting. 


Beware of idioms! 

We all know that literal translation isn’t always the best translation. This is especially true when it comes to idioms and other examples of figurative language such as phrasal verbs. The thing about such figures of speech is that, quite often, their meaning cannot be understood from interpreting each individual part of such phrases – you have to treat each figure of speech as a whole. Consider this: would these phrases make sense if they are interpreted into your working language(s) literally, or word for word? 

  • a game plan
  • rule of thumb
  • between a rock and a hard place
  • the early bird catches the worm 
  • to cost an arm and a leg

When interpreting idioms, be strategic and either find an appropriate equivalent in your working language(s), or interpret the meaning behind the idiom or other figure of speech.


Don’t censor rude language 

Sometimes the message interpreters have to render into another language contains language that is less than polite.  Rendering harsh words, critical opinions or expressions of frustration may be uncomfortable business. However, according to the National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care, “The interpreter renders all messages accurately and completely, without adding, omitting, or substituting. For example, an interpreter repeats all that is said, even if it seems redundant, irrelevant, or rude.” So, if an interpreter finds themselves struggling with interpreting something rude, it might be helpful to remember that they aren’t the ones saying these words – they are simply doing the job of facilitating communication between parties, without changing the content or making judgements about its quality. 


Don’t  ‘clean up’ an unclear message 

The example from the National Standards of Practice for Interpreters in Health Care cited earlier in the article mentions interpreters repeating everything that is said – even those parts that may seem redundant or irrelevant. Some examples of this could be somebody answering a simple yes/no question with a long rambling story, or speaking incoherently using unconnected words (‘word salad’). While it might seem reasonable to pick out only the pertinent information, or try to order an incoherent speech segment into something more comprehensible, doing so would violate the accuracy cannon. So, once again, interpret everything, change or omit nothing. 



As interpreters strive to interpret everything accurately and completely, they should remember that literal translation is not always the best translation and that, no matter how difficult or incoherent a message is, interpreting it exactly as it is said is the most ethical thing to do. After all, as Jim Rohn, a prominent motivational speaker once said, “Accuracy builds credibility.” 


Interpreting clients

Building a client base is an ever-present challenge for interpreters. Whether you’re just starting out or having been in the business for years, you always need to be on the lookout for new opportunities. Fortunately, there are several ways to market yourself as the right person for the job. Sometimes a well-crafted resume is enough, but sometimes you need to get a little more creative. Below are five ways to get more interpreting clients—from traditional methods that still work to outside-of-the-box ideas.


  1. Highlight Your Area(s) of Specialization


Language and interpreting skills are only half of the equation when it comes to getting hired. Potential clients also need someone who understands their industry and has the required credentials. Getting certified in your field is one the best ways to do just that. In some industries, such as healthcare and legal, you may need a state or national certification to qualify for most jobs. If your area of specialization doesn’t have a certification program, highlight your professional training, any continuing education courses, and/or membership in industry-related organizations.


  1. Build Your Remote Interpreting Skills


Remote interpreting is quickly becoming the norm in healthcare, business, and even legal settings. Yet it poses some unique challenges that onsite interpreters don’t face. From more difficulty building a rapport between participants to trouble with technology, it takes some adjusting to make the switch. However, with a little practice you can improve your remote interpreting skills. If you already have experience, be sure to highlight that when you market yourself to potential clients.


  1. Network, Network, Network


As with any field, people prefer to work with someone they know and trust. While COVID-19 has made it more difficult to make new connections, virtual events and conferences are still great ways to find new clients. By attending virtually, you’ll also keep up with industry trends, learn about the latest technology, and even earn continuing education credits.


  1. Film a Video Introduction


If you really want to stand out from the competition, film a short video introduction to send to potential clients. This lets you showoff your professionalism—and language skills—in a more personable way. Potential clients will get a better feel for who you are beyond your resume. If you have a website, be sure to upload it there as well.


  1. Use an Online Interpretation Platform


As an independent contractor, you’re responsible prospecting, scheduling, and tracking your finances. Staying organized is of the utmost importance if you wan to succeed. And here’s where the right software can help. Built with interpreters in mind, Boostlingo’s interpretation platform lets you manage your schedule—and your income all in one place. And thanks to our web/mobile app, you can accept new assignments no matter where you are. You never have to worry about missing an opportunity.


Want to find out if Boostlingo is right for you? Start your free trial today!



The United States is the land of linguistic diversity—with at least 350 languages spoken at home. Although Spanish, Chinese, and French round out the three most common after English, millions of residents speak a language of lesser diffusion. While each of these cultures add to America’s diversity, language barriers can make it difficult to access healthcare, legal services, and more.


If you need an interpreter who speaks Spanish, even on short notice, you’ll likely find one without much trouble. Yet what if you need someone who speaks Swahili? Or Telugu? Depending on where you live, this can pose a major challenge. Fortunately, remote interpreting options make it easy to find an interpreter regardless of your location—or theirs.


But before we get into the benefits of remote interpreting, let’s take a look at the linguistic diversity across the country.


Language Diversity Across America


The U.S. Census Bureau released a set of its most comprehensive data on languages in November 2015. Based on American Community Survey data, it includes information on 350 languages. Below are some statistics from five of the largest metropolitan areas.


New York


  • At least 192 languages are spoken at home.
  • Bengali, with 105,765 speakers, is one of the area’s smaller language groups.


Los Angeles


  • At least 185 languages are spoken at home.
  • Indonesian, with 12,750 speakers, is one of the area’s smaller language groups.




  • At least 153 languages are spoken at home.
  • Serbian, with 17,490 speakers, is one of the area’s smaller language groups.




  • At least 156 languages are spoken at home.
  • Telugu, with 12,630 speakers, is one of the area’s smallest language groups.




  • At least 146 languages are spoken at home.
  • Malayalam, with 10,370 speakers is one of the area’s smallest language groups.


The Benefits of Remote Interpreting


As you can see, even languages of lesser diffusion may make up relatively large communities, especially in metropolitan areas. However, there may still be a shortage of professional interpreters who speak that language. Here’s where remote interpreting comes.


There are two methods of remote interpreting: over-the-phone and video remote. Both methods let you work with an interpreter without bringing them onsite. This not only helps you save on travel expenses, but can help you get an interpreter on short notice.


So, how do you connect with a remote interpreter? One way is through Boostlingo’s easy-to-use interpreting platform. All you need is a phone or webcam and internet access. There’s no need to download any software. Plus, you’ll gain access to the Boostlingo Professional Interpreter Network, which includes interpreters who speak over 200 languages.


Want to find out if Boostlingo is right for you? Start your free trial today!