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U.S. Department of Education awards $20 million in grants for ELL educator development

September 28, 2017 Compliance

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition announced earlier this month the awarding of $20 million in grantsto support and develop educators of English language learners (ELL). The grant was awarded under the National Professional Development Program.

Nearly 10% of public school students during the 2014-15 school year were learning to speak English according to statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics.The vast majority of those speak Spanish as a first language, followed by Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese.

The National Professional Development program provides grants to institutions of higher education and public or private entities to implement activities that will improve instruction for ELL students. Activities may include preservice or in-service programs for educators, including teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and others.

“Our English learner students represent an incredible asset for our country, yet they also face unique challenges. We need to keep shining the spotlight on them and building our capacity to better serve and teach them.” said OELA Assistant Deputy Secretary, José Viana, in a news release.

It is estimated that the grants will assist nearly 12,000 preservice and in-service educators.


Hispanic student enrollment more than doubles over 2 decades

September 14, 2017 Compliance

The population of Hispanic students enrolled at all levels of education has more than doubled since 1996, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau.

From 1996 to 2016, Hispanic student enrollment grew by 9 million, representing a 102 percent increase. As of 2016, Hispanic students represented nearly 23 percent of the total population of all people enrolled in school from pre-kindergarten through graduate school.

Overall, total student enrollment in 2016 was 77 million, which represents 9.9 percent growth since 1996.

Part of the increase in Hispanic student enrollment is a factor of population growth. According to the Census Bureau , “More than half of the growth in the total population of the United States between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the Hispanic population.”

The other big factor in Hispanic student population growth is the decline in high school dropout rates. Dropouts among Hispanic students fell from 34.5 percent in 1996 to 9.9 percent in 2016. The national average is 6.4 percent.

Spanish was the home language of more than 77 percent of all English language learner (ELL) students during the 2014-15 school year,according to the National Center for Education Statistics These individuals are entitled to meaningful access to federally funded educational programs under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Executive Order 13166.

The growth in Hispanic enrollment just underscores the need for language access solutions in our schools. Volatia Language Network works with school systems and institutions of higher education to facilitate live communication among teachers, administrators, parents and students, and to translate critical documents into the languages of the student population.

Contact us todayto learn how we can help your institution provide meaningful access to educational services and be in compliance with federal law.


Hospital agrees to settlement in ADA language access case

August 28, 2017 Compliance

A Washington state hospital agreed earlier this month to a settlement to resolve alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

Highline Hospital of Burien will pay a total of $45,000 to settle a case involving a deaf complainant who alleged that the hospital failed to provide him and his wife, who is also deaf, with American Sign Language interpreters following the man’s spinal surgery. In addition, the hospital is required to implement a plan to ensure full compliance with ADA requirements in the future.

"There is very little as important in the hospital than being able to communicate effectively with treatment providers," said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. "The Americans with Disability Act ensures that at critical junctures in medical care those who need it – including those who are deaf or hard of hearing – have access to services such as ASL translators."

According to the settlement, the man was was a patient in January 2014 and had requested an ASL interpreter before his surgery. However, an interpreter was not provided at "critical junctures in his care," such as immediately following surgery and during discharge instructions.

The lack of interpreter also meant the man’s wife was unable to communicate effectively with medical staff about her husband’s condition, "including the extent of spinal damage that was discovered during surgery, the patient’s level of pain, information about post-operative care, and potential side effects from medication," the news release says.

Read the rest of the release.


VOLATIA gets mention in Entrepreneur article about co-working spaces

June 06, 2017 Media

"Coworking is growing at a dizzying pace," according to an article this month by Entrepreneur .

The Volatia Language Network team works largely in coworking spaces, including the Roanoke CoLab. The Entrepreneur post points out four advantages of coworking, including recruiting and employment, and discusses how VOLATIA is a part of that ecosystem at its coworking space in Richmond:

"Similarly, Kate Ayers with ReEstablish Richmond, a non-profit that connects refugees to services and aids in their transition, has referred several of her clients to [Senior Account Executive] Andrew Crotts with Volatia, a company that supplies interpreters in more than 280 languages. As Kate said, ‘Our clients need jobs. This is a win for our clients and both organizations."

Read the rest of the article.


Language access conference spotlights mental health services

May 21, 2017 Events

Mental health and medical professionals, first responders and language services providers gathered at the South County Library earlier this month to share experiences and discuss challenges and opportunities that arise when providing mental health services to those with limited English proficiency.

Del. Sam Rasoul opened the Second Annual Language Access Conference with words of support for the efforts of the participants. He also introduced Diane Kelly, former executive director of Mental Health America of Roanoke Valley, and presented her with an award for her career-long dedication to promoting a community response to mental illness.

VOLATIA CEO Baraka Kasongo was one of many conference presenters who offered ideas and solutions. Kasongo discussed the role of technology, such as the VOLATIA Rover, which provides instant, on-demand video access to remote interpreters.

Conference sponsors included Roanoke Refugee Mental Health Council: Mental Health America of Roanoke Valley, New Horizons Healthcare, Family Service of Roanoke Valley, Roanoke County, Office of Newcomer Services VA Department of Social Services, and Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

Photo by Alan Hale


VOLATIA featured in Roanoke Times special section

May 21, 2017 Media

VOLATIA is among 10 Roanoke-area businesses featured in a Roanoke Times special section, Business Briefing, on May 28. The section was produced to commemorate Virginia Business Appreciation Month.

Reporter Sandra Brown Kelly writes this about the company:

"Volatia, headquartered in Grandin Village, supports 280-plus languages and has become a strong competitor in one of the country's fastest-growing industries. The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics has projected a 29 percent growth rate for the industry from 2014 to 2024."

The article features VOLATIA CEO Baraka Kasango, who told Kelly about his early experience starting the company:

"The best business advice I ever received was to hire professionals … hire the right person. You have to pay the price."

Read the rest of the article.

Photo by The Roanoke Times


Entrepreneur article explores cultural differences in talking about failure

April 25, 2017 Media

Talk to an entrepreneur in the United States, and you'll likely hear about his or her biggest failures. After all, failure comes with the territory.

But in entrepreneurial circles across Africa, failure has long been stigmatized and not discussed, according to an April article by Entrepreneur. This lack of communication causes detriment to individuals, businesses and communities.

VOLATIA CEO Baraka Kasongo talked to Entrepreneur about the difference in cultures:

"You'll find this common thread through any third world country,' says Baraka Kasongo, CEO of an on-demand translation company called Volatia, who's originally from Rwanda. "We're taught to not let anyone see you complaining, to have a positive outlook and be grateful."

According to the article, conversations among African entrepreneurs about their struggles are just beginning, teaching business owners that in failure is resilience.

Read the rest of the article.


Volatia CEO named RBTC Entrepreneur of the Year

April 25, 2017 Events

Talk to an entrepreneur in the United States, and you'll likely hear about his or her biggest failures. After all, failure comes with the territory.

But in entrepreneurial circles across Africa, failure has long been stigmatized and not discussed, according to an April article by Entrepreneur. This lack of communication causes detriment to individuals, businesses and communities.

VOLATIA CEO Baraka Kasongo talked to Entrepreneur about the difference in cultures:

"You'll find this common thread through any third world country,' says Baraka Kasongo, CEO of an on-demand translation company called Volatia, who's originally from Rwanda. "We're taught to not let anyone see you complaining, to have a positive outlook and be grateful."

According to the article, conversations among African entrepreneurs about their struggles are just beginning, teaching business owners that in failure is resilience.

Read the rest of the article.


Health and Wellness Interpreters program grows rapidly

March 20, 2017 Media

A new partnership among Roanoke-area organizations to provide interpreters for victims of domestic violence has already assisted dozens of residents with limited English proficiency.

Health and Wellness Interpreters of the Roanoke Valley has worked with more than 30 people since the program began in November through Family Service of Roanoke Valley. The interpreters come from VOLATIA.

"It helps refugees that come to the United States, much like my family did. … Having equal access to public information, and to be heard is truly the ingredient of communication in any culture," VOLATIA CEO Baraka Kasonga said about the service.

Watch the segment by WSLS (Channel 10).


VOLATIA CEO named inspiring leader by WFXR

February 27, 2017 Media

VOLATIA CEO Baraka Kasongo was named February's inspiring leader during the Feb. 27 edition of WFXR's Virginia at Work segment.

Cortex Leadership Consulting CEO Lynda McNutt Foster explained why, despite his relatively young age, Kasongo an example of strong, inspiring leadership:

"What separates him [Kasongo] is a lot of leaders are confident and then there are other leaders who are competent. He's confident and competent. He's been learning leadership from the time he was going to college, and he never stops learning."

Kasongo said he was humbled by the honor but said it reinforced the importance of connecting people and building relationships. His advice for other young leaders is to focus on those relationships.

"Sometimes we get lost in the transactions instead of focusing on the relationships that we are building with people. … Always focus on the relationship and never sacrifice that to get a transaction," he said.

See the rest of the segment.

Read the companion piece:Virginia at Work: Young leader survives refugee camps to become successful CEO

Screenshot from virginiafirst.com..


VOLATIA to provide interpretation services for crime victims

November 22, 2016 Media

Four Roanoke Valley organizations have joined in an effort to provide interpreters to Roanoke-area crime victims with limited English proficiency.

Family Service of Roanoke Valley,Salvation Army's Turning Point,TAP Domestic Violence Services and Sexual Assault Response and Awareness received a $280,000 grant from the Department of Criminal Justice to provide interpreters for refugees who need services, including counseling and crisis intervention.

The interpreters for Health and Wellness Interpreters of the Roanoke Valley will come from Volatia Language Network.

"There has always been the need," VOLATIA CEO Baraka Kasongo said in an interview. "And we certainly, all of us, have recognized the diversity of our region, but at the same time we are getting to the point where organizations are realizing that this requires a collaborative effort."

Roanoke is home to more than 100 nationalities, and area agencies will now have access to interpreters in more than 280 languages.

"We are making a commitment to not make any victim of a crime feel isolated or hopeless because they are not able to access services in their primary language," Sharon Thacker, president and CEO of Family Service, said Tuesday in announcing the initiative.

Read the story from The Roanoke Times

Watch the segment by WDBJ (Channel 7)

Watch the segment by WSLS (Channel 10)

Listen to coverage from WFIR (960 AM)

Screenshot from wdbj7.com.



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