Atlanta hosts the largest gathering of U.S. court interpreters this weekend.
May 16, 2015 § 2 Comments
This weekend many of the top-notch court interpreters in the United States will meet in Atlanta for the annual conference of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT). For this reason, when I was asked by the Atlanta Association of Interpreters and Translators (AAIT) to write a piece for the special conference issue of their publication “Bridges”, I agreed to first publish it there, and post it here later on the day.
Professional conferences are vital to any activity and we are no exception. As you all know, these are the places where we solidify and improve our knowledge, advance our skills, and refresh our ethics. That in itself makes them invaluable, but NAJIT’s annual conference is much more than that.
Those attending the conference will be pleasantly surprised to learn that many of the living legends of court interpreting will be there, and that they will be joined by some local and brand new talent in our industry. You see, the conference will welcome more than court interpreters and legal translators. Conference, medical, community, military, and other types of professional interpreters will be in Atlanta adding value to the event, sharing their knowledge and experience, and developing professional networks across disciplines and places of residence.
I invite you to approach old and new colleagues and have a dialogue with them. I believe that these conferences give us an opportunity to do all the academic things I mentioned above; but they also provide a forum for interpreters to discuss those issues that are threatening our profession. Atlanta is giving us a unique opportunity to talk about strategy on issues as important as the development of technologies and the efforts by some of the big agencies to keep these new resources to themselves and use them to take the market to lows that are totally unacceptable to professionals. We can openly talk about strategy to defend our fees, working conditions, and professionalism, while at the same time initiating a direct dialogue with the technology companies who are developing all the new software and hardware that will soon become the standard in our profession.
Finally, the conference will also help you to get more exposure to other interpreters, and will provide situations where we will have a great time and create long-lasting memories and new friendships across the country and beyond. I now ask you to share with the rest of us your motivation to attend this and other professional conferences. I hope to see you this weekend!
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“I believe that these conferences give us an opportunity to do all the academic things I mentioned above; but they also provide a forum for interpreters to discuss those issues that are threatening our profession.”
Not if the http://www.najit.org/Conferences/2015/schedule.php is anything to go by, yet again. As can always be relied on to be the typical line up at ATA and NAJIT conferences: it’s all the usual “law terminology”, “accent reduction”, “dialectal variations” innocuous type fare. Nothing that even hints at the Big Taboo Topic of how (to the detriment of the interpreter) the dough is divvied up and under what (substandard) conditions it is earned.
“We can openly talk about strategy to defend our fees, working conditions, and professionalism,…”
Yeah, perhaps while muttering under your breath walking the hotel corridors between conference sessions where none of this is being discussed or while sharing a cab to the airport with a colleague…
The one-hour town hall meeting might be the only venue where these topics could possibly be broached (or at least the question asked why they are never addressed in conference sessions in the first place) – if there is anyone present and willing with the cojones to speak up and the relevant background knowledge and insight into How Things Are.
If you find yourself to be the only one or one of the few who fits that description (which in part explains why things are the way they are), you might be better advised not to speak up at all after all – the entities which sponsor these events, whose profit margins and ease of operation are proportional to the docility of their workforce, will not take kindly to those who question their modi operandi.