WFD and WASLI have been collaborating closely to promote partnerships between deaf associations and interpreter associations through the years. Through joint attendance at recent international events, we seek to strengthen the cause of improving access to and the quality of sign language interpretation. Our work takes on a greater urgency in the context of the refugee crisis and disruptions caused by technological advancements.
Over 800 delegates convened at the FIT (Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs / International Federation of Translators) Congress 2017. Significant milestones were achieved at this Congress: It marked the first time in FIT’s sixty-year history that sign language interpretation had a presence at the Congress – one of the keynotes was about sign language and was presented by Dr Jemina Napier using Auslan.
Secondly, WASLI’s MOU with FIT was unanimously ratified by 50 of FIT’s member associations, officially reflecting the recognition of sign language as a language and sign language interpretation as a profession in the field.
WASLI President Debra Russell said, “Prior to the ratification, the MOU was already signed at the WASLI Conference 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey. Since then, WASLI and FIT have collaborated with other international non-governmental organisations such as the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), Red T, Critical Link International, to engage in an Open Letter Campaign designed to lobby governments to support interpreters and translators in conflict zones.”
WFD President Colin Allen and Ms Russell were in attendance to bring greater visibility to and enhance the credibility of the work of their respective organisations. For example, the joint WFD-WASLI presentation enabled FIT delegates to learn more about the International Sign Accreditation process, which is rigorous and parallels other international processes.
The Congress also highlighted the impact of technological advances and the internet on interpreting and the digital infrastructure for interpretation services. Topics raised included the challenges of maintaining the quality of relay/remote video interpreting services, how Deaf communities and interpreters should respond to the use of avatars to provide interpretation, and addressing the issue of dominant signed languages influencing national signed languages in a hyperconnected world.
3rd Latin America Sign Language Interpreters Meeting
WFD and WASLI were also present at the 3rd Latin America Sign Language Interpreters Meeting in Panama, during which the ‘Panama Declaration’ was signed. The agreement between the deaf associations, interpreter associations and WASLI regional association was a significant and positive development. It gathered stakeholders to work together on monitoring, researching on, and improving the quality of interpretation services.