It’s been officially announced!  John Bichsel, Curriculum and Testing Specialist, is retiring from The University of Arizona’s National Center for Interpretation @uofanci.  John started working at NCI back in 1986 when his academic advisor, Dr. Roseann Dueñas Gonzalez, hired him while he worked on his Masters in ESL. Throughout that period he took leave a few times – once to spend a year traveling in South America and another to serve a two-year Fulbright stint in Mexico – but upon return each time he continued collaborating with Dr. Gonzalez, Victoria Vazquez, Paul Gatto, and the rest of the NCI team to champion equal access for limited- and non-English speakers by developing interpreter quality training curricula and assessment instruments, a mission he continues to be very passionate about.  These are a few accomplishments during his tenure at NCI:     

  • He participated in the development and administration of the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Exam (FCICE) when the program resided at the University of Arizona. This included working with myriad Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole consultants to certify court interpreters for the AOUSC. In addition to writing and revising materials, John was integral to the piloting and validation of these high-stakes examinations. As he will tell you, the privilege of working with Spanish, Haitian, and Navajo language experts was the best part of his job. Sadly, the Navajo and Haitian Creole interpreter certification programs were cancelled, and early plans to certify up to 55 languages were also put on hold.
  • John formed part of the Expert Panel for Fundamentals of Court Interpretation: Theory, Policy, and Practice (2012), by Dr. Roseann Gonzalez, Victoria Vazquez, Esq., and Holly Mikkelson.
  • From 2001 – 2016 John collaborated with the NCI team to develop several sign language interpreter certification exams for the state of Texas, including ASL/English; Trilingual (ASL/English/Spanish); Certified Deaf Interpreter; and ASL/English specialty certifications for legal and medical interpreters.
  • John developed a wide body of curricula for the numerous workshops and trainings offered by NCI and his voice is immortalized on the audio recordings.
  • He also helped develop numerous other examinations, including the Spanish and Cantonese certification examinations for the San Francisco Fire Department; the Kaiser Permanente Spanish examination for bilingual physicians; medical and state legal examinations for Navajo; and NCI’s in-house legal and medical credentialing examinations (the CICP and MICE).

John was born in Tacoma, one of seven children in a family that moved from Fargo to Montana to Minnesota while his father, a mechanical engineer on the intercontinental Northern Pacific Railway, accepted every promotion that came his way. John studied German in high school, not knowing that someday he would end up in the Southwest, work for Dr. Gonzalez, and marry into a Mexican family; in fact, John is my ‘better half’ or ‘half an orange’ as they say in Spanish (meaning that together we form a whole and beautiful orange, which we do!). We’ve been married for 23 awesome years.  John has dedicated his career to professionalizing interpreting and protecting the rights of linguistic minorities.  And for that, we are grateful.  ¡Gracias Juanito!


  1. HIP HIP HOORAY! What a beautiful way to commemorate John’s invaluable contributions to the field. With John gone from the NCI, the golden age has truly come to an end. Thank you John for all of your hard work and sacrifices. You helped change the world for the better and I cannot think of a better way to have spent your time. All of us who work(ed) with you are better for it. Have a wonderful retirement, both of you. Thanks Yvette.

  2. John,
    CONGRATULATIONS. You have been a stalwart contributor to the field of Court Interpreting. I can recall many all-nighters you spent with Roseann and Vickie to meet a deadline for a grant proposal or a book manuscript. You are truly a hero of this grand effort.
    Best regards,

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