WFD-WASLI Message of Collaboration

Message of Collaboration Alanne and Russell

Kaisa: I am Kaisa Alanne, World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) Board Member, and you are?


Debra: I am Debra Russell, President of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI).


Kaisa: So WFD and WASLI have a strong partnership and a formal collaboration agreement – why is that needed?


Debra: The agreement is important as it shows that interpreters respect the Deaf community and the Deaf community shows the same respect to interpreters.  The agreement has several key tenets, and while we were here at the WFD Budapest conference, we signed a new agreement that clearly shows where Deaf people lead and how interpreters are to support the Deaf community.


Kaisa: The document is important as it stresses the importance of increased, on-going communication between our organizations – learning about your goals, our goals, and how we can collaborate on common goals.  For example, our OMs have their own strategic plans and objectives and key or behind those objectives is interpreters.  What does look like?


Debra: yes, one way interpreters support the goals of the Deaf communities is that they desire high quality interpreters, and interpreter associations can support that objective by focusing on training interpreters.  The interpreters should also support the strategic efforts of the Deaf community.  And you are so right, communication – sitting down together, face to face, to talk about goals and ways to collaborate is so important.  We can achieve so much together, when we collaborate.


Kaisa: One clear example of collaboration is around sign language instruction.  That is work for deaf people, not interpreters.


Debra:  Right, sign language is your language – you live 24 hours every day as a Deaf person.  I am not deaf, I am hearing, so it isn’t appropriate for me to take that work.  So researching sign language, building language corpus, publications about sign language are the responsibility of the Deaf community.  All of that work builds capacity by strengthening the Deaf community and the sign language. Interpreters show their support by ensuring that Deaf people do that work.  If interpreters take it on, it breaks the trust between the communities. When there is no trust, there can be no collaboration.


Kaisa:  One challenge in the Deaf community is that sometimes interpreters decide to stop interpreting, just drop the Deaf community. What does that mean?


Debra:  We see this problem occurring in several countries.  The Deaf community has given us their language, taught us sign language so interpreters need to be part of the Deaf community – show your support, your “heart”.  WE need to be visible in the community so that we can build trust – if you see me often in the community, you can build trust. To just drop the community – where is the support for the community?  We really encourage interpreters to socialize with Deaf people and show that heart you have for the community.


Kaisa: Another example of supporting the Deaf associations is that many have the goal of offering a high quality, professional interpreting service, which means collaborating with interpreters.  You mentioned socializing, which is great as it improves ones language skills, and Deaf associations also want interpreters to obtain formal training, to be known as people, be ethical, don’t offer their own opinions, maintain the role of the interpreter, so that’s important, too, right?


Debra:  WASLI and WFD wrote a paper about the role of the interpreter, where we describe what it means to be an interpreter, and the ethical aspects.  For example, how to maintain boundaries, that interpreters don’t add their opinion while interpreting, or take over making decisions for deaf people, nor do they patronize or pity deaf people and so on.  As the interpreter, I am there to facilitate the communication, you lead and I interpret.  It is also important that hearing interpreters also welcome Deaf interpreters – in some countries, we are seeing the issue arise where governments think that to be an interpreter you must be hearing, and that it is impossible to be an interpreter if you are deaf.  The point is that we are sign language interpreters, and hearing and deaf people can both be interpreters, working together.  Hearing interpreters need to open doors to work together with deaf interpreters, in order to continue to raise the standard of quality.


Kaisa: So if you would like to know more about WFD-WASLI partnership you can check the WFD or WASLI websites and view the Cooperation Agreement. OR you can contact either one of us.


Debra: Thanks for watching!


Both: Goodbye!