Now here’s something interesting: as of 2012 the AIIC now accepts sign language interpreters into their organization as full members. Check out this great article here. I don’t know the background to this decision, nor can I explain why it took 60 years to accept ASL interpreters into their organization. But there you have it.
What’s the AIIC, you ask? Well, it’s only the International Association of Conference Interpreters, founded in 1952. Or in the original French: Association internationale des interprètes de conférence. The organization is known for its high standards and global reach.
ASL interpreters may not be familiar with this organization. But many of us are familiar with its most famous member: Danica Seleskovitch. Seleskovitch was one of the early theorists of the interpreting process and was a well-known interpreter trainer, albeit primarily for spoken language interpreters. However, her writings on interpreting – especially Interpreting for International Conferences – mirrored and even foresaw current pedagogy in interpreter training programs. I remember reading that book while I was in my ITP from 2004-2006.
I have always wished that spoken language and sign language interpreters would work together more on systemic issues related to language and access. The time may be more ripe given this recent AIIC decision, as well as the more local work of Janet Dobecki’s work with the Community and Court Interpreters of Ohio (CCIO), a multi-lingual organization trying to bring all interpreters together.