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InterpretAmerica 6: New Date, Same Focus on Labor and Management Best Practices

Pubished May 11, 2017

Many have been asking for information on InterpretAmerica 6. We appreciate your patience as we've been revamping some of our programming for 2017. The big change? InterpretAmerica 6 has a new date!

We have moved the Summit to Monday, October 30, 2017.

The Summit will take place at the Middlebury Institute Offices in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C. The topic is still the same:

Labor. Management. Technology: A Call to Action.

Our primary goal with this year's Summit is to spark a collaborative, results-oriented conversation between interpreters, those who hire them, and those designing the technologies that many interpreters are now expected to use. We've all seen how disruptive the roll out of remote interpreting platforms has been for working interpreters. But we also see the potential for highly positive outcomes for increased language access and expanded work opportunities for interpreters. 

The crucial missing piece we will focus on at InterpretAmerica 6 is best practices for remote interpreting. Our profession needs guidelines for the employers who put interpreters on remote platforms, for the interpreters who work on them and for the technology designers who create them.

InterpretAmerica 6 will invite key players from all sides to help jump start a more positive effort towards establishing best practices. We will explore what is happening now, what needs to change and come up with recommendations towards concrete change for the better. We are not proposing to be the authority that ultimately creates and oversees best practices. That is the purview of professional associations and other governing bodies in our field. Rather, we simply seek to convene the conversation and hopefully create momentum towards concrete action.

It is not hyperbole to say that the interpreting profession is at the center of today's changing society. Mobile video and cloud technology have eliminated most barriers to communication. Language barriers are all that remain. Despite the mad rush among technology companies to find the ultimate machine translation replacement for human interpreters, that day is still very far away. In the meantime, people need to communicate and we need to be there to fill the need. 

The crucial missing piece we will focus on at InterpretAmerica 6 is best practices for remote interpreting.

Currently, our profession is experiencing a climate of conflict, fear and division in in many arenas. We are increasingly splintered and disempowered at the very time when we could be raising our profession to new levels of visibility and abundance. 

For these reasons, we have moved our Summit to October 30 in part to take advantage of the large convening of interpreting players that will take place in Washington, D.C. for the annual ATA conference, taking place between October 25-28, 2017. 

InterpetAmerica 6 will be scaled down from previous Summits to make a working conference possible. There will be fewer onsite attendees but we still plan on making remote attendance possible. Let's take the passion we have for the work we do and channel it into helping our profession move into this new reality we find ourselves in. 

More on the Need for Remote Interpreting Best Practices for our Profession

At InterpretAmerica, we monitor trends in our profession very closely. For years we have communicated about the disruptive change that has swept our profession, as interpreting has been caught in the much larger technological and societal changes sweeping our world. Many forces are at work over which we have little control and the consequences have been very disruptive indeed.

In many cases, our entire work paradigm is changing. Onsite interpreters are being asked to go remote. Jobs are now assigned via text message. Language service companies face a severe shortage of qualified, professional interpreter talent. Interpreter training and education is struggling to train interpreters with the skill set that will fit actual market demand. Misclassification issues are forcing freelancers to formalize business practices and language companies to ponder whether to move to employee-only hiring models.

As 2017 has progressed, conflict and tension between the key parties in our profession has continued to intensify. A quick tour of recent headlines proves this point:

Steve Lank recently published a blog for the ATA Interpreters Division titled: Couples Counseling: Reimagining the Freelancer–Company Relationship, Part I. In it he writes:

For me, this is a topic of supreme importance to our industry and one we should not take for granted. While I understand that processes and technology are important, the freelancer–company relationship is at the core of everything we do, so it really deserves our focused attention. Like all human relationships, it requires understanding, communication and cooperation, yet there is an inherent tension in this relationship that I don’t quite understand. I find it very frustrating that as an industry we cannot seem to get this key relationship right.

We couldn't agree more with Steve Lank. InterpretAmerica 6 is our contribution to helping our profession "get this key relationship right."


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