(FINAL VIDEO WITH VOICE OVER TO COME)
ASLIA is the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association.
So, really my role is to organise a number of things such as professional development events for interpreters. We aim to make sure through involvement and consultation that we are across what it is the industry requires and meeting these needs to ensure quality, continually improving service provision.
So, what is the process for those in the wider community to become qualified interpreters?
There are a number of different pathways.
Some people are raised by Deaf parents therefore have Auslan as their first language as a necessity
There are also those who have grown up without Auslan but wish to study it as a language, or those who have Auslan as their first language and may wish to pursue the linguistics of their language. Melbourne Polytechnic offer progressive certificate courses that once successfully completed and a level of fluency attained, allows you to apply to undertake the interpreters qualification course at RMIT in Melbourne.
This is one way you may progress toward becoming an interpreter. Alternatively, you could complete the language course then apply directly to NAATI to sit for accreditation. NAATI is the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters.
NAATI are responsible for the testing and awarding of accreditation to applicants who have successfully passed the required test.
There are three levels of accreditation beginning at level 2 – Para Professional, level 3 –Professional and the most recently introduced, ‘Conference level Interpreter’.
There is also a Deaf Interpreter qualifiaction, however, this is yet to be recognised as equivalent to Para Professional. We are hopeful that this will soon be part of the NAATI’s accreditation. So who knows? In the future there may even be the opportunity for Deaf Interpreters to become qualified specialist translators.
If you wish to consider studying Auslan, perhaps you are a newcomer to the language or already know a little, or perhaps you are from a Deaf family and would like to pursue the linguistics of Auslan, MPT have certificate courses on offer specific to this area. However, if you are hoping to become an interpreter, it is important that you carefully consider whether it is a career well suited to you.
Consider first, whether you have good memory retention skills, conduct yourself in a professional manner and enjoy working with a variety of people.
If at some stage your aim is to specialise in a particular field, for example medical or court interpreting, it is necessary to have studied sufficiently and have an excellent breadth of knowledge. As an interpreter, your job is to interpret the information rather than just manually reproduce it like a machine. Information needs to be properly understood and translated therefore fluency in both Auslan and English is very important. You will also be expected to have a strong academic foundation in order to succeed as an interpreter.
Attitude is also important. Historically, Deaf people have been ‘helped’ whereas now, Deaf people want to independently manage their lives. Interpreters now are seen as vehicles for communication rather than as one who steps in and assumes responsibility. It simply isn’t the role of the interpreter to ‘look after’ the Deaf person.
Involvement in the Deaf Community is also very important. As with any spoken language, Spanish as an example, one would visit the country, immerse themselves in the local culture and community, learn the language until fluency is achieved at which point, one could consider becoming a Spanish interpreter.
Likewise with Auslan interpreting. You need to involve yourself with Deaf people, learn the nuances of the language because not all Deaf people sign the same.
Deaf people have widely different experiences of Auslan depending on the education they received growing up and whether they were raised by Deaf parents. Some Deaf people didn’t start to use Auslan until they were 18, 19, 20 years of age, perhaps even older therefore their use of the language will vary greatly.
Similarly, lexical variations occur throughout Australia. For example, there are dialects specific to Northern and Southern states of Australia. So mixing with the Deaf community enables you to familiarise yourself with these differences and therefore understand how the signs used to express ideas can vary greatly depending on local dialect.
Mixing with the Community helps Deaf people to know you, too. Regular contact with the Community will allow Deaf people to become familiar with you and therefore enable a sense of trust to develop over time.
So, if you’ve been encouraged or inspired by what you have seen so far and think you’d like to pursue a career as an interpreter, you can begin by becoming a member of ASLIA!
ASLIA offers workshops to both established interpreters who wish to further their professional education, to those qualified but newer to the industry or to individuals yet to gain their interpreting qualifications.
Unaccredited interpreters are welcome to join as Associate Members, while those with qualifications can join as Full Members.
Please feel free to contact us either on line or via email. We would be delighted to have you join our association. Good luck!