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When Change Is for the Best - Interpreting Is Moving Ahead

Published Oct 21, 2017

Our world is awash in negative news right now. From politics to natural disasters to a sense of disruption and uncontrollable change, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

The interpreting profession is no different. The much-used term "disruption" is still the best concept to capture the intense change and adjustment our field is going through. Worse yet, in the minds of many, this change is being forced upon us from outside forces and is largely perceived as negative. We didn't ask for it, it just is.

For many, the best kind of change is always the change we choose: Change we envision, orchestrate and implement. 

Here's the good news: Despite the sweeping cultural, technological and workplace changes impacting almost every profession around the world, our humble profession of interpreting is actually quite good at orchestrated change.

Which is why we are inviting you to be part of the upcoming InterpretAmerica 6 Summit, where we want our field to orchestrate the change we want to see when it comes to remote interpreting.

Remote interpreting is now a fact of life. We cannot make it go away--and in all honesty, we shouldn't. But, if we choose to, we can influence how this change impacts us.

Consider: From Isolation to Connection

At the time we held the first InterpretAmerica Summit in 2010, our profession was separated from itself, each interpreting area operating in its own silo with practically no interaction. Conference interpreters did not engage with legal interpreters who did not engage with or relate to healthcare interpreters.

That has changed. For example, today, the authors of this blog both teach conference interpreting students in MA programs that include healthcare, legal and conference interpreting classes as a part of their degree tracks. Professional associations from across specializations have formed coalitions and regularly collaborate. Many interpreters now work in multiple areas, giving them more work and better incomes. All of that has come to pass in less than a decade.

Consider: From Suspicion to Collaboration

A decade ago, public/private partnerships with the interpreting profession were few and often looked at with suspicion. Agencies who hired interpreters had little contact with professional associations advocating for the best interests of interpreters. Tech companies working on remote communication solutions often came from outside of interpreting altogether, to sometimes disastrous results.

Now, innovative platforms are increasingly coming from developers with roots in (and hence understanding of) our profession. Professional associations partner with companies on initiatives to better the profession. Educational institutions are experimenting, in partnership with new remote interpreting and teaching platforms, to create effective curricula for teaching the new skills interpreters have to learn to work remotely. 

InterpretAmerica 6 is a prime example of this trend. A mix of language service companies, associations and tech companies from the US and Europe have helped us fund the Summit. Thanks to our sponsors' generous support, we are able to put on our traditional onsite meeting AND take advantage of the latest video technology to include online attendees fully able to participate in the day's discussions.  

The Interpret America 6 Sponsors helping to make this critical discussion possible.

Consider: From Ad Hoc to Credentialled

A decade ago, healthcare interpreters in the United States and Canada had no national certification processes. Court interpreter certification often did not cross state lines. State governments had few mechanisms for defining or requiring proof of competency for interpreters.  Training programs were few and far between and public awareness of the need for qualified and trained interpreters was minimal. While much remains to be done, all of these issues have significantly improved.

In all of the above cases, progress was made because of the concerted effort of individuals and organizations to solve these problems.

As individual interpreters, we can't stop the overwhelming change transforming the world around us at ever-increasing rates.  We CAN step up to guide that change and make sure that it is implemented in the best interests of all involved. 

InterpretAmerica 6, takes place on Monday, October 30 in Washington, D.C. Our theme is Labor. Management. Technology: A Call to Action. Our goal, by the end of the Summit, is to have a draft action plan, created by the participants, for the creation and implmentation of best practices for remote interpreting. 

Our onsite registration is sold out, but we still have online attendance spots available and a third option to watch a plenary session livestream and hang out with us on social media. 

Come join us and be part of the change that we, as a profession, seek to influence for the better. After all, we already know we're pretty good at moving forward when we put our collective minds together. 


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