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Federal interpreters suffer ‘acoustic shock,’ other concussion-like symptoms

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Nearly one-quarter of the interpreters employed by Ottawa’s Translation Bureau have suffered health issues directly related to their jobs, including acoustic shock caused by sudden, loud sounds.

Seventeen of the bureau’s 72 permanent interpreters have filed a total of 28 complaints over the last three years, according to the federal institution.

It feels as though somebody took a hammer to both your ears at the same time.– Craig Pollocl, interpreter

According to the union representing the workers, the complaints involve concussion-like symptoms including nausea, vomiting, loss of balance, fainting, disorientation and even hearing loss. In six cases, the employees required immediate medical attention.

“We hope that we have a solution within the next 18 to 24 months,” said Stéphan Déry, chief executive officer of the bureau, which falls under the umbrella of Public Services and Procurement Canada. “The health and safety of our interpreters is important to us and we’re working with them, with the union [and] with the international association.”

Déry said the government is asking clients to ensure their own systems are equipped with decibel-limiting technology to help prevent acoustic shock.

Translation Bureau CEO Stéphan Déry says the federal institution is taking steps to address the issue. (CBC)

Acoustic shock

Interpreters working for the bureau translate live conferences, parliamentary committees and debates in the House of Commons on a daily basis.

Déry confirmed many of the cases reported involved acoustic shock, which can occur after exposure to a single extremely loud sound or continual exposure to a sound at a lesser intensity.

Audiologist Nancy Lévesque said sufferers often complain of pain in their ears, sensitivity to sound and tinnitus — constant ringing in the ears.

“It happens often with people wearing headsets,” she said.

Long-term effects

Craig Pollock, who has worked as an interpreter for 19 years in both the private and public sectors, including at the Translation Bureau, has suffered numerous acoustic shocks.

“It feels as though somebody took a hammer to both your ears at the same time and hit them,” he said. “It just leaves you reeling … dizzy [and] nauseous.”

Interpreter Craig Pollock, who has worked for the Translation Bureau, says he felt dizzy and nauseous after suffering acoustic shocks while on the job. (CBC News)

Pollock said he suffers from tinnitus in his left ear and has diminished hearing in both ears.

“I won’t turn up my volume now in order to hear when the level of sound — and the quality of sound — aren’t good enough,” he said. “I will simply say, ‘I’m sorry, the interpreter can’t interpret because the sound quality isn’t there.'”

New system coming 

The federal government has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the development of a digital interpretation platform that better controls sound and protects the hearing of interpreters working remotely.

“The Translation Bureau has experienced a sharp increase in over-the-phone interpretation assignments … [and] the sound quality coming from various devices, such as conference phones and cellphones does not meet the [International Organization for Standardization] standards required for quality simultaneous interpretation and creates other challenges with respect to occupational health and safety for interpreters who deliver the service,” according to the tender notice.

The Translation Bureau plans to spend $450,000 over 2½​ years for the new system, which will include video interface and be simpler for remote clients to use.

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Toronto Book Expo 2020 – Authors, Publishers look forward to a top-notch Canadian book fair

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Diversity has always been a complex issue, no matter where you look.Case in point, world-famous writer, Stephen King, has recently come under criticism for his views on diversity. The best-selling author had stated, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art, only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” Many criticized the novelist as being out of touch and “ignorant,” but one cannot deny that King’s opinions on diversity, mirror the thoughts of a whole lot of people in the creative industry.

The Toronto Book Expo is coming back in 2020, with a multi-cultural concept that aims to include marginalized authors.  The Expo intends to celebrate literary works of diverse cultural backgrounds, and the entire literary community in Canada is expectant. Book-lovers and writers alike, are invited to three days of uninhibited literary celebration where diverse cultural works will be prioritized. At the event, authors will be allowed to share their culture with a broad audience. The audience will be there specifically to purchase multi-cultural works.

Multicultural literary expos do not come every day. In Canada, there is a noticeable lack of literary events celebrating other cultures. This leads to a significantly lower amount of cultural diversity in the industry. The Toronto Book Expo would aim at giving more recognition to these marginalized voices. Understandably, more recognizable work will be prioritized.

The Toronto Book Expo is making a statement that diversity is needed in the literary community. The statement is truly motivating, especially if you consider the fact that this could mean more culturally diverse works of literature.

There is a lot of noticeable cultural ignorance in literature. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and books are one of the best means of improving multi-cultural diversity in literature. The Toronto Book Expo is going to fully utilize books to fight ignorance in the literary industry.

Real progress cannot be made if there is a substantial amount of ignorant people in the industry. In spite of advancements made in education in recent years, there is still a considerable percentage of adults who remain unable to read and write.The Toronto Book Expo aims to bring awareness to social literacy issues such as illiteracy.

It is important to uphold high literacy levels in the community and to support those who are uneducated. A thriving society cannot be achieved if the community is not able to read their civil liberties and write down their grievances.

The major foundation of a working and dynamic society is entrenched in literature. Literature offers us an understandingof the changes being made to our community.

The event would go on for three days at three different venues. Day 1 would hold at the York University Student & Convention Centre at 15 Library Lane on March 19. Day 2 would be held at the Bram and BlumaAppel Salon Facility on the second floor of the main Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto on March 21 and day 3 of the expo would take place at the internationally famous Roy Thomson Hall.

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A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Attention, Canadians! We’re featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit. Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman

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Ottawa doctor pens nursery rhyme to teach proper handwashing

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An Ottawa doctor has turned to song to teach kids — and adults, for that matter — how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Dr. Nisha Thampi, an infectious disease physician at CHEO, the area’s children’s hospital, created a video set to the tune of Frère Jacques and featuring the six-step handwashing method recommended by the World Health Organization.

Thampi’s 25-second rendition, which was co-authored by her daughter and Dr. Yves Longtin, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, is featured in the December issue of The BMJ, or British Medical Journal. 

Thampi said as an infectious disease physician and a mother of two, she thinks a lot about germs at home and school.

“I was trying to find a fun way to remember the stuff,” she said. “There are six steps that have been codified by the World Health Organization, but they’re complex and hard to remember.” 

Thampi said she came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the nursery rhyme on World Hand Hygiene Day in May, when she was thinking about how to help people remember the technique. 

She said studies have shown that handwashing is effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory diseases. 

“So I’d say it’s one of the most important and easiest things we can do.”

The video includes such often-overlooked steps as “wash the back,” “twirl the tips around” and “thumb attack,” which pays special attention to the first digit.

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