In the last two months, the interpreting profession has undergone radical change on a scale not seen since the mid-20th century with the birth of conference interpreting. Initially, as the pandemic began to spread, conference interpreting all but disappeared when travel restrictions were imposed. Legal interpreting was put on hold as courts and law firms closed their doors in response to social distancing orders. Face-to-face medical interpreting became more hazardous than ever before as hospitals and clinics began to swell with COVID-19 patients and thousands of educational interpreters were initiated into remote everything overnight as schools went online.
As the interpreting profession undergoes radical change, InterpretAmerica is also evolving and changing. Today we announce that InterpretAmerica co-founder Barry Slaughter Olsen will be stepping down as co-president to join the executive team at KUDO Inc., a cloud-based collaboration platform that enables web meetings and live conferences with real-time multilingual language interpretation.
Because we have worked across our profession in public-facing venues, we know that many see InterpretAmerica as an organization larger than it is. But it has, in actuality always been a unique partnership between Barry and Katharine, without supporting staff or profit motive. Both of us have always had full-time jobs outside of InterpretAmerica, even as we collaborated in our many projects and events together. With the exception of several ongoing projects, Barry's taking the next step in his career means that InterpretAmerica will hit the pause button for the immediate future as we decide how to move forward from here.
One of those projects is the commitment we made at the end of the InterpretAmerica 2020 virtual event last March to launch RemoteInterpreting.Info. That project is alive and well and close to completion. We hope to launch the site by June 1st. The website is a free resource we offer to the profession we love as a way to provide some support for the overwhelming shift to remote we are living through.
Throughout InterpretAmerica’s decade-long history, we have always sought to identify emerging trends affecting the interpreting profession. From the advent of remote interpreting technologies to the thorny issue of employee misclassification in a profession dominated by freelancers, we’ve sought connection, first among ourselves, and then with all those we serve. An exploration of our website gives testament to the public events we've organized and the resources we have shared. Key to it all has been our desire to raise the profile of our profession in service to all who work in it and who benefit from our professional expertise.
As we stop to take a breath, we want to thank everyone, with profound gratitude, who has supported us, sponsored our events, collaborated with us on our crazy leaps of faith, or even pushed back and criticized our efforts. All of you have helped us become who we are professionally and our lives have been immeasurably enriched along the way.
Rest assured. We aren't going anywhere. Stay tuned for our next announcement of how InterpretAmerica's vision will move forward in the future.
Barry S. Olsen and Katharine Allen