2 Comments

  1. Tashi says:

    12 August 2014 at 4.47 pm

    Thank you. So often people overlook the fact that “sign language interpreters” ARE interpreters, and are also spoken language interpreters. The vast majority of BSL interpreters work with BSL and English (a spoken language). So, there should not be such discrimination (noting a difference between) them and Urdu-English interpreters, for example.
    In Australia, Auslan-English interpreters are organised under the umbrella association of The Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT), “the national association for the translating and interpreting profession”. I’ve long wondered why other countries have such a divide between interpreters that work with signed languages and those who don’t.
    If you go here: http://www.ausit.org/AUSIT/Home/AUSIT/Home/Default.aspx?hkey=06a18068-1f22-47ea-9333-d95e376b6c19
    and click on “find an interpreter”, you’ll find a drop-down list just a click away of many languages to choose from in your search for an interpreter, including Auslan (Australian Sign Language).
    What I find interesting is that when you perform the same search via “find a translator”, no names pop up for Auslan-English. Thanks to technology, translation between signed and spoken/written languages is becoming more common, something that I do myself in my own work. Bear in mind that “translation” deals with frozen forms of language (print/writing/video) while “interpreting” deals with live, on-the-spot production of language. It is a somewhat different process that requires different skills, though it is not uncommon for interpreters to get training in translation and do that work, and vice-versa.

  2. Éva, spoken language interpreter says:

    7 September 2014 at 4.23 pm

    1. Thank you for this blog entry, I’ve found it rather invigorating. I couldn’t agree more with its clarion call for unity; it also displays a tremendous depth of knowledge of the sign language interpreting profession on the ground that’s impressive and your commitment is laudable. However, from a spoken language professional’s view point, it seems that your insight into that arena is limited therefore your comparisons and conclusions drawn from them are rather wobbly.
    2. So let me put my couple of penny’s worth of comments, if I may. I’d like to start with something that you might call a matter of opinion: you call the co-operation against the MoJ sub-contract “impressive”. I don’t know what measure you used before you reached that conclusion but if we simply take the end result and its consequences, I would call it ‘much-a-do-for-nothing’. The contract came in, stayed in, as a result spoken language interpreters’ actual income was halved or, on certain shorter assignments they even could be out of pocket, I mean that they could be earning less than their fare which is not paid for under the new t&c. The same DID NOT happen to sign language interpreters. But as you indicated the dismal contract is hailed nonetheless as a success and gave rise to ‘augurs’ of a National Framework contract to encompass all fields of public service interpreting. Some of us clearly considered that outcome as discriminatory against foreign language interpreters and took legal action accordingly. In the course of research for the case it transpired, of course, that even under the old National Agreement, although the monetary element of t&c might have been similar, everything else was much better for sign-language interpreters: cancellation fees, and most crucially, the taking of turns during a longer assignment.
    3. Frankly, for me, it’s baffling to see why any sign language interpreter would want to join the NRPSI? To get paid less and work twice as hard for their money? The NRPSI and most of the current organisation who claim to represent public service/justice interpreters were set up/ run by people who have seen very little interpreting practice. None, in my knowledge, has ever worked on a long trial. You are strictly WRONG when you state that the “NRPSI primarily exists to protect, support and promote its registered professionals” – the NRPSI, unlike AIIC, is NOT a membership organization, we are mere ‘registrants’ the NRPSI desperately tried to position itself as a quasi-regulator, which they were not, and they have less and less chances of ever becoming. They have always been subservient to the powers that be, it’s always been a top-down structure, individuals working for it making sure that they made money before any of the ‘registrants’.
    4. I’d be curious to hear the H&S concerns of sign-language interpreters, partly because it is yet again a topic that is currently featuring in a legal challenge against our current t&c, and on H&S grounds we are demanding the same t&c as sign language interpreters currently enjoy, that is the taking of turns.
    5. Statutory regulation is a huge topic, I think you are wrong to come to the conclusions from the health service examples that they’re directly applicable to interpreters.
    6. Nonetheless, I believe that strong representative bodies, like AIIC, are very important. Spoken language interpreters working in the Justice System certainly don’t have them. If they did they wouldn’t be reduced to running to employment tribunals to try and seek humane enough working conditions. And of course, UNITY is, or rather, would be, of crucial importance.
    7. I’d love to have a chat at some point, and perhaps ask you to state your professional opinion in a more formal way.

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