Following the widespread dissatisfaction with recent consultations from NRCPD, what I would describe as a semi-formal survey of interpreters’ “happiness” about the state of registration in the UK was conducted by Byron Campbell, an experienced interpreter based at a well-known sign language interpreting agency. The results were published to the e-newsli online discussion group and to the ASLI forum: I am reposting them here in the public interest.
208 interpreters participated during the month that the survey was accessible – this is about a fifth of the current register, but that is a decent level of participation and more than double that of NRCPD’s commissioned survey held in early autumn last year. The questions in the survey were narrowly focused on the current provision of regulation from NRCPD.
The results were striking:
|Are you happy with the current register (NRCPD) and the way it is being run?||6%||94%|
|Do you think NRCPD will make changes to address problems with the current system?||18%||82%|
|Do you think a new register should be established?||60%||40%|
Byron qualified these results and gave a very brief insight into the survey’s open question responses with the following comments: The key areas of dissatisfaction were (in order of response): Non-representation of the profession; Cost (value for money); Lack of meaningful consultation; Accountability. In terms of comments from respondents most were in favour of trying to work with NRCPD and try to make changes to the current system. The higher percentage of people saying a new register should be established was IF changes could not be made to the current system/register. There were a lot of comments saying that having 2 registers would be confusing, unproductive and unwanted.
There was no discussion of any shortcomings of the survey: the most immediate one in my mind is that the participants were all self-selecting and motivated to express their (negative) feelings about NRCPD, which might partly explain the extremely high rate of dissatisfaction. Nor is there any breakdown of respondents by demographic (region, domain of work, current registration status etc.)
It’s worth pointing out that “interpreters” already have (at least) two registers. It is interesting to compare these findings, and those of the NRPCD/Cassiopeia survey, with another survey carried out late last year by Professional Interpreters for Justice (PI4J), whose membership includes the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI), NRCPD’s closest analogue in the spoken languages field: they found that 85% of interpreters believed NRPSI were the right organisation to be regulating their industry (and achieved 1,172 respondents, only 71% of whom were NRPSI-registered). So that’s 85% for, versus our 94% against.
So why are spoken and signed language interpreters regulated separately? Is there something fundamentally wrong with the wheel that required us to go back to the drawing board, or is the nature of our work just too different? A discussion about what constitutes “public services” in the context of sign language interpreting domains needs to happen.