ATISDA Blog (Association of Translators and Interpreters in the San Diego Area)

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Interview with ATISDA’s Deborah Wexler, Acting Administrator of the Audiovisual Division

Our high-achieving ATISDA members consistently take on leadership roles in American Translators Association (ATA) Divisions. Sometimes they even help found new ones!

ATISDA member Deborah Wexler serves as the Acting Administrator in the new Audiovisual Division (AVD), which she and other audiovisual language professionals helped found.

We were lucky enough to have Deborah discuss this new Division with us in the following exclusive interview with ATISDA.

As she tells us about this work, “It’s what I wanted to do when I was a little girl and used to see the translator credit ‘Translated by Perla Moctezuma’ at the end of subtitled movies on television.” Read on for more information about the new Division’s creation and Deborah’s extensive background in audiovisual translation.

ATISDA: What is this new Audiovisual Division all about?

Deborah Wexler: We want to support and mentor audiovisual linguists, and build bridges between our profession and media content providers through high-quality education and professional networking.

And because technology will keep reshaping our industry in the immediate future, it’s very important to help audiovisual content processing agencies recognize the need to work closely with computational linguists, technology providers, and universities with one goal in mind: to educate and retrain media professionals on the intricacies of the field, and to do this alongside audiovisual linguists, giving them a say in what works best for them while respecting their sociocultural role in this rapidly changing landscape.

Who are the members of the Audiovisual Division?

We have two officers, Ana Salotti, Acting Assistant Administrator, and me, Acting Administrator, as well as a Leadership Council:
Ana Gabriela González Meade, Publications Coordinator
Mara Campbell, Website Coordinator
Fernanda Brandao-Galea, Professional Development Coordinator
Britta Noack, Mentoring Coordinator
Michelle Bradley, Newsletter Proofreader
María Delgado, Forum Moderator

The difference between the officers and the Leadership Council is that the officers are elected and the Leadership Council is appointed by the administrator.

How are the officers elected?

When a new Division is created, the two officers are not elected, but rather appointed by the ATA, hence the “acting” part in our titles.

After that, officers are either elected by votes or win by default, depending on the situation:
1. If there is more than one candidate in the running, there is an election. And the new officer is elected, not by the Leadership Council like some people believe, but by all Division members.
2. If there is only one candidate in the running, the ATA elects them by “acclamation,” which means by default.

What do you envision for this Division?

We want to foster more participation of audiovisual linguists in events organized by ATA, like the association’s annual conferences, chapters’ continuing education programs, and regional events.

We want to help provide continuing education opportunities specific to the audiovisual linguists’ careers.

And, of course, we want to bring about more visibility and recognition for the audiovisual linguist.

What role did you have in creating this Division?

Four of us have shared equal roles in the creation of the AVD: Mara Campbell, Ana Salotti, Gabriela González Meade, and I.

A group of Argentinian translators thought that there should be an Audiovisual Division in the ATA, and Mara Campbell was one of them. Mara shared this idea with her friend, Ana Salotti. Two years ago, at the ATA Conference in San Francisco, Ana spoke with Gabriela González Meade about the idea, and then both of them talked to me.

Last November, the four of us decided we were willing to put in all the time and work needed to get the Division off the ground. When we were choosing the roles, I offered myself for any of them, as a member of the Leadership Council or as an officer, including in the administrator position, which I’m honored to hold. Regardless of our titles, we have all participated equally in the creation of the AVD.

What background do you have in audiovisual work?

All of my background is in audiovisual work. I have been dedicated to audiovisual translation for more than two decades. In Mexico, I started in a state channel called Imevisión that later became Televisión Azteca. Then I worked for Televisa, Mexico’s leading media company, and for PCTV, the largest cable TV distributor in Latin America. Immediately after I immigrated to the United States, I started working for Captions, Inc., where I later became the Director of Translation Services, in charge of over 500 linguists. I have also always been a freelance audiovisual translator and worked for the largest agencies specializing in streaming and theatrical content.

What do you enjoy about this work?

Everything. It makes me smile when I wake up in the morning. It makes me laugh and cry during the day when I am immersed in the stories. And it makes me smile when I go to bed at night. It’s what I wanted to do when I was a little girl and used to see the translator credit “Translated by Perla Moctezuma” at the end of subtitled movies on television. I still remember Perla’s name, even though I never got to meet her.

Who would benefit from this Division?

First, audiovisual linguists. Old-timers could join the Division, share their knowledge, and network. Non-audiovisual translators and translation students could come to find a mentor. All of us could benefit from teaching or learning from each other.

Second, media content providers. This is the place to come for advice and to ask any questions.

Third, translation agencies or audiovisual content processing companies. They can come looking for professional and knowledgeable audiovisual linguists.

How can interested people get involved in the Audiovisual Division?

There are many things they can do to get involved:

  • Volunteer to be part of the Leadership Council, particularly in the roles of Social Media Coordinator and Public Relations Coordinator. If anyone’s interested, please contact us at!
  • Share their expertise and knowledge by volunteering.
  • Suggest a speaker for the audiovisual sessions at the Palm Springs Conference (ATA 60).
  • Suggest a venue for an off-site event at the ATA 60 conference: sightseeing tours, bars or restaurants, etc.
  • Write a short article about one of the sessions in the audiovisual field they attend in either Berlin (the Languages and the Media conference that took place on October 3-5 in Berlin) or New Orleans (ATA 59) for the blog.
  • Write an article for the newsletter.
  • Post links of interest and start discussions on the Google Groups forum for Division members.
  • Join our Facebook page (open to both Division members and non-members).
  • Plan a session for the audiovisual track at ATA 60.
  • Let us know what professional development or networking opportunities they would like to see in the future.
  • Let us know if they would like to be paired with a mentor.

Anything else you would like to share about the AVD?

We just published our website. We plan to add more and more content both on our static pages and on our blog, so we encourage our members to submit blog articles for our consideration.

We also intend to publish the first issue of our newsletter, Deep Focus, with articles, software and book reviews, resources, and other references relevant to the audiovisual profession, in December 2018. We encourage submissions of articles. The publishing guidelines can be found on our website.

And regarding the 2018 Annual ATA Conference, we’ll have our first annual meeting in New Orleans on October 26, and we’ll be hosting an off-site happy hour event at Backspace Bar & Kitchen on October 24, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Visit our website for more information.

Where can people get more information about the Division?

They can get connected:

  1. Website:
  2. Anybody can join us on Facebook: AudiovisualDivisionATA
  3. Anybody can join us on Twitter: @ATA_AVDivision
  4. ATA members can join the Division:
  5. Audiovisual Division members can join the Google Groups forum: send an e-mail to


Deborah Wexler

Deborah Wexler

Deborah Wexler was born and raised in Mexico City and immigrated to the United States in 1999, where she settled in Los Angeles. She is an ATA-certified English-to-Spanish translator and editor with over 20 years of experience, specializing in audiovisual translation and Spanish orthography. She has translated over 6,000 program hours for television, VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, streaming media, and the big screen. She works for a media processing company that provides translation services for Hollywood features and series, and independent and art-house films and documentaries. She is also a freelance audiovisual translator and quality control specialist. She is a frequent speaker at international conferences, and she is an educator that has mentored and trained many translators wanting to get into the subtitling field.

Cover image courtesy of the AVD website.