Sign language interpreting services: A quick fix for inclusion?

Autor/a: DE MEULDER, Maartje; HAUALAND, Hilde
Año: 2019
Editorial: Translation and Interpreting Studies (2019)
Tipo de código: ISSN
Soporte: Digital


Traducción e Interpretación


Sign language interpreting services (SLIS), including video relay services, have been vital for deaf people’s access to education, employment, health care, and the justice system, as well as for political participation. In many countries (mostly in Northern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America) institutionalized SLIS have existed for more than four decades. In those countries, SLIS have evolved from volunteer charity work to well-established social institutions and professional services (Scott-Gibson 1991), and where they are being provided by a legal mandate (e.g., disability legislation), national or regional authorities cover most or all of the costs of those services. Sign language interpreting (SLI) has evolved towards a “practice profession” (Dean and Pollard 2005; Haualand 2018) with university-level qualification programs in some countries, more or less standardized certification procedures, and regional, national, and international organizations, conferences, and registries.

This article is first and foremost a call to critically assess the impact and role of SLIS in those countries where SLIS have been institutionalized. Deaf people in most other countries still seek to have their governments recognize the need for and take responsibility for SLIS (Haualand and Allen 2009). We thus do not want to question or delegitimize the need for and use of those services. They are a hard-won right, and in most countries with SLIS there is a shortage of qualified, professional interpreters (de Wit 2016), which means even meeting minimum needs for SLIS is problematic.